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Friday, 1 May 2015

M'aidez on May Day - Getting Help

I've been meaning to write about the rest of my Japanese adventures, and they will come. This week has been interesting, though, for a number of other reasons, as I've returned to a semblance of normality with the working week, weekend and so on. And with those normalities come some of the 'normal' feelings of depression and anxiety that at times I feel that I want to run away from and at times just bury myself in the sand (i.e. the duvets) and hide from the world.

Saying this out loud has taken me a long time. But I've got there.

I may have mentioned this before, but a lot of people who have not previously been diagnosed with depression don't recognise the symptoms, in their infancy, for what they are. A change in appetite, a few bad nights' sleep and a lack of interest in doing things might slip by unnoticed for a while. Added to this the fact that many people who suffer from depression (and I would include myself in this 'many') are people who push themselves fairly far towards (and sometimes past) their own limits to 'succeed' in whatever way they can, whether it's at work, with a partner or in social situations.

Being superwoman isn't possible, and the kryptonite that gets me every time is depression coming back to remind me that I need to balance what I can do with what's realistic for my health.

There have been many posts and articles this week elsewhere which have sparked my interest in writing about my own situation again. This week is a pinnacle in my long road of depressive episodes as I can feel myself getting worse and worse towards next week when I have a planned hospital recovery period in the calendar for the whole of next week, and know that I will benefit hugely from some rest, some structured help, and just by being around other people who are freely talking about their struggles in a safe environment where there is no potential for shame, stigma, or having to pretend to be something that one is not.

I've now stopped pretending, but I still expect people to dislike me a lot of the time,
 and am a work in progress towards accepting myself

The fact is that when we can recognise the symptoms sooner we can stop the depression getting so terrible that we need to take many weeks off and have years of recovery ahead. It's hard to spot the signs and do something about them when you're feeling absolutely dreadful, but if you can do anything towards this it's a real bonus.

I've stopped pretending now - to a large extent: as difficult as I find it to accept myself to be myself, the real myself and not the garrulous 'great pretender' for whom everything is joyous, funny and to be made into a grand joke,, but I am trying to be just me whether it's me not having a great day or something else.

Sometimes plugging in or distracting is the safest way to get through to tomorrow

Here's a comment I wrote just now for a piece published recently in the Guardian:

Quoted from article: "People suffering from long-term conditions, such as mental health problems, will spend most of their time outside of NHS and social care settings."
[My comment]: I first realised I was depressed aged 20 when I sat in my university room, crying and crying but pushing my fist into my mouth or my head into the pillow, hoping my roommate couldn't hear and hoping that she could.

Fifteen years later I understand I was depressed and anxious as a young child, with the dreadful dread in my stomach, aged three or four.
My help has rarely come from the NHS; I'm not 'bad enough' or 'Ill enough' to qualify for anything more than a gp appointment. So I saw a (private) Ed Psych when I couldn't go to school anymore; I saw a wonderful (private) counsellor who helped me get back to university and complete my degree; I took pills from the NHS when I couldn't get (afford) help elsewhere. I had therapy again (privately) which was terrible and didn't help. And last year I was in hospital (privately) because I didn't want to live but - again - I wasn't ill enough for NHS help of the kind I needed. And now my GP remains supportive but my major support comes from (private) medical care. This weekend and next week I'll get some more of this kind of help to keep me going, to not take the worst step. Thank you to my brain for just about enabling me to study, work and pay for my life in private mental health care.
Thank you to all of those charities mentioned above. Although I have not benefited from you directly my knowledge of others who can't afford care privately need you now more than ever. You are amazing and I pledge to continue to support Mind and Time to Change and others as much as I can. Because not everyone is as lucky as me and can afford this care or have it covered by private medical care. And for goodness sake, we're still working hard to get it recognised as with equal rights to those with non-mental health conditions. It's already so hard. Let's help each other. And by the way, #GE2015 candidates, I'd gladly pay extra tax to support the NHS to be able to survive and serve us all - mental health and other patients - better. Just give me a call. @volette or via my blog Laptop on Tour.
Thank you Guardian for publishing this piece. I believe the third sector is critical for helping those in need struggling with all the debilitating effects of many mental illnesses. Thank you.

There's a third element that supports recovery that is not mentioned here, and I think is truly, critically important, and that is the support that comes from one's friends and family. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friends and family for their unswerving support for me through all the difficult times that I've experienced. I continue to need them (and this is challenging, as I ask myself, "When (soon surely) will people become sick of my sickness and my need for support?" I don't know the answer but I hope it lasts a bit longer than my illness does...and in return I hope that I try to be a good friend when I can, and answer texts or send them, make phone calls or meet up when I'm well enough, and when not that I'm accepted to do that. I hope so. 

I find these positive statements hard to hear, but I'm glad some one is saying them.

I don't think it matters whether it's a friend or a family member (or indeed a partner) who is your go-to person when struggling. I hope that everyone can have someone, and if not someone in their personal or professional lives, then I find all the more reason to support the vital charities mentioned in the Guardian piece and many more who do so much. I am an advocate for supporting one another, and for feeling free and able to go in search of that support without fear of judgment or censure. With that said, I wish you all a healthy weekend ahead, and hope that if you need help you can find it from your friends, your support networks, third sector organisations or medical professionals. After all, we all need a little help sometimes, and we can share in the mutual support of others and ourselves by working together. Take care. x
With a little help..this can be true.

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