This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and having been through a fair bit in my little life, I thought I would share my road, bumpy as it has been…
Life can be hard, then something tips the balance and pushes you just that bit too hard. For everyone their story is different, their illness is different and their treatment will be different. As a sufferer of depression, I have tipped many times into the black abyss that is my depression, learning each time the triggers, if I can manage this time or if I need help. For me, life’s stresses have often been the trigger with an adulterous husband who left me with a baby and a 5 year old, diagnosed with bowel cancer a few years later which resulted in eighteen months of intensive treatment that left me so, so tired followed by a business that imploded on itself … I have been extremely lucky as I had amazing support from family and friends and good counselling from a variety of sources.
That first time that you go is terrifying … mine was and usually is a steep cliff into a black well, no end, no way out, cold, lonely and terrifying. The fear is gut wrenching and completely debilitating.
My other manifestation, usually triggered by stress, is a merry go round that I can’t get off, this is often accompanied by overwhelming tiredness and complete inability to make sense of any arrangements, time keeping or day to day tasks.
As I say, I have been lucky to get the right treatment when I needed it. Very lucky.
The black dog still comes from time to time and sits on my shoulder, he still looms when I hear of others who are suffering and have not been as lucky as I have. For me one of my savings is making, without the ability to touch fabric, to sketch, to make something, I am completely lost and the times when I couldn’t make due to the pressures of life were the darkest. I know that often “crafts” are used as therapy but for me they are an essential part of my mental health. My mum even commented that she know when I am well as I have a project, or normally two on the go.
I share the black dog with many friends, work colleagues and family, all dealing with him in different ways, different times and with different sizes. He is always there.
Whether you are a sufferer or know of someone who suffers or is suffering, be kind, be thoughtful and be there for them. Mental Illness can strike anyone, at anytime and sometimes just sitting with someone, holding their hand and watching endless episodes of Come Dine With Me (as my sister did with me, every Saturday, for weeks on end while I was ill) is all you need to do. Just never, ever, ever say “Pull yourself together”. Ever.
Thanks you to everyone who has helped me over the years from friends, family, counsellors, doctors, and the person who randomly asks if you are ok – just in case you’re not.