Today is #timetotalk which is set up to get people talking about mental health issues, to combat the stigma and make those of us who experience them feel less alone, and to encourage people to actively try to get help.
Some of you who know me personally may be aware that I experience a wonderful combination of anxiety and depression with additional sprinklings of rage. I have panic attacks generally triggered by crowds or similar claustrophobic moments.
I've had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and found it useful. I've never been able to get talking therapy on the NHS but I'm lucky as I have a conversation based podcast that has really helped. I'm currently not interested in medication although I know many who it works very well for. I do drink far far less often than when I was younger as people occasionally note. That's helpful.
I've always been very open about the rage part because I like to wallow in guilt and put people in positions where they can think the worst of me (whilst desperately hoping they won't.) Although ironically that's the part I've always had the most success in controlling. It took me years to admit to myself I suffer from depression and anxiety, partly because since I "cope" I've never felt those labels were mine, knowing so many friends and family members who suffer those conditions more acutely or other conditions that are life debilitating. Even writing this I am battling the thoughts telling me I'm a fake who is appropriating others pain. But I know that is just my self-loathing and anxiety talking.
The thing about trying to deal with these things alone (still my default instinct sadly) is it makes you isolated as well as anxious and depressed. Also it means that the only person who sees me at my worst, who has to deal with all the shit I'm holding back and hiding it my partner, which in turn makes me feel guilty about that too. It amazes me that she's stuck with me these last 13 years considering how terrible I have often been to live with.
And let's be clear when I'm talking about depression I'm not talking about feeling sad, I'm talking about wishing that I didn't exist, that I was rubbed out, that nothingness could embrace me. It's not sad it's empty, it's numb, although inside that numbness or maybe behind it are the squirming maggots of anxiety telling me I'm worthless, toxic, ugly, weak, pathetic etc...
Anyway, there we go, that's me. Or rather one facet of many that form me. Not one I want to be defined by but one that I am sick of denying.
I think talking is good. And the more we talk about difficult issues the better it is for everyone. But not everyone is ready. Not everyone has access to safe ears to listen. Attitudes out there are pretty shitty. Let's try and talk more and listen more. Let's try and be understanding.
Here's a conversation I had with my Aunt that talks about her much more severe mental health issues.