I asked Bloggers to tell me what it was like to live with a mental health condition. Some of these stories are hard to read and I cannot thank the bloggers enough for sharing their stories. Please remember if you need help to contact your GP or the Samaritans on 116 123. You are not alone.
Emma, @LiterateElf – Depression
One of the things that still amazes me is how many people think mental health is ‘cute’ or ‘quirky’, without having any greater understanding of how it affects a person. I’ve suffered with issues since my preteen years, and yet I never fully understood what was going on until I hit my early 20s. That’s a long time to be clueless about yourself. Not that I’d say knowing has made any difference, in all seriousness; I became medicated, but that never stopped the depressive episodes. Never prevented me from being escorted by the police on my way to hospital.
I probably paint a bleak picture, but that isn’t my intention, all I want to do is paint an honest one, one that illustrates how individual an experience mental health can be. As I grow older I learn to accept this part of me, while never allowing it to define who I am; I’m more than my mental health. There’s still dark periods in my life, moments where getting out of bed is too great a burden, but they pass eventually, leading to brighter days. It’s hard to offer advice or help to other sufferers, so all I’ll say is that you should try and remember that, while this journey is hard, it’s not always going to be so shitty. You can make it through.
Fears Come to Life (a short story of depression)
Do you ever feel like you’re teetering on the edge, with the abyss staring back at you, your entire being barely holding on as the engulfing waves wash over you once more. That’s my personal prison that I experience everyday, the minefield of emotions rigged to go off at the slightest unbalance. Try as I might to stem the never-ending tide, I’m always consumed by that which I fear.
Droplets of salt water cascade down my face, splitting apart and splashing my cheeks as they descent to my rounded chin. This is the face that greets me from inside the mirror, her expression blank and cold, sorrow bubbling out of every pore. She should be unfamiliar, but I know her all too well.
I’d seen glimpses of her growing up, a whisper of a form, shrouded in black, but it was never more than fleeting visits. As soon as I’d see her, she was gone, her suffocating aura stolen away along with her. The simplicity of those days weigh down on me now, their irony raw and bitter, just like the pills I swallow to forget the truth of myself.
Stepping away from the reflection, the one I hate to recall so clearly, I lift my form up and into the bath. The water is so warm, stinging as it lightly scolds, red blemishes pricking at my skin. As it washes over me, my being submerged in a metaphorical baptism, I wonder whether my visits from this grave soul, so troubled and shattered, will ever stop.
Opening my eyes under the water, I sense a stirring inside me; she comes for me tonight.
Anon – Psychosis
“I had a period of psychosis when I was at university. I’m still not sure whether it was brought on by stress (I was in an abusive relationship, was being stalked and my dad was dying at the time) or a severe lack of nutrition (thanks to aforementioned relationship I was existing on a chocolate bar a day and a bowl of rice once a week.) In any case, I was having auditory and visual hallucinations daily; I’d hear people calling my name, see snakes and bugs crawling over the floor and on my skin and occasionally would see and feel branches reaching out to get me, among other things. I told no one at the time, I didn’t feel like I could because of the stigma my family has towards mental illness because of my dad’s mental health problems. I was working full time while at uni and it began to affect my work because I would ask colleagues and customers why they were calling for me and struggled to tell when the voices were in my head and when they were real. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because I’d be hearing what sounded like a 1950s radio broadcast at night and once I became so convinced that my hands were out to get me that I tried to break my own wrists on my bedpost. I vaguely remember trying to tell people outside of family, but in hindsight I suspect I was so vague about my symptoms that no one really understood what was going on. I haven’t hallucinated since 2014, when I thought that an earthquake was shaking my bed in Seattle, and now I try and avoid the kinds of stress and eating behaviour triggers that used to be constant. I suffered from chronic migraines at the same time so now I’m trying to avoid migraine triggers in case they’re linked. I don’t talk openly about it, and it does mean that I fear that my perception of reality will never be quite trustworthy, but I am able to manage life quite well now.”
Part 2 continues tomorrow with two more bloggers.
If you’d like to share YOUR story email me at firstname.lastname@example.org