It’s Ok Not To Be Ok

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Sometimes in our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that not feeling ok is ok. I know a lot of people with mental health conditions and we spend a lot of time wading through day to day tasks, trying not to let it show. It’s easy to say we’re fine and keep it all inside. I needed reminding this week that it’s ok to feel that things aren’t great, even if to the outside world they are. Take it at your own pace, feel what you need to feel.

I’ve been caught up in a lot of ‘shoulds’ recently. That I should feel happy constantly because to everyone else my life looks amazing. I know that I do have a good life, a great relationship, a job and a home that I love. I get caught up in how I should appear to other people, but often don’t listen to my own body and my own mind.

I have an illness, whether I or anyone else likes it, it’s there. Sometimes I feel sad, I feel exhausted and unhappy for no clear reason, it’s just part of the illness that I have. I’ve been giving myself a really tough time for the times I’ve felt unhappy and only really thought about it after catching the end of a Twitter chat.

I have a tattoo that says ‘One Day At A Time’ and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to let myself feel what I’m feeling and not feel guilty.

Living with a mental health condition at Christmas

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Ah mental illness, you little pest, of course you want to pop your head up for the holidays. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental illness and christmas time, I say thinking and I mean getting anxious about it. I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time but almost couldn’t find the words for what I wanted to say.

For most people Christmas equals joy and happiness, right? For some of us though our mental health threatens the celebrations every year whether we like it or not. Not only is it hard for the person dealing with the illness, but also the people around them and so I’m going to be frank. One day of the year doesn’t make a mental illness magically disappear, it doesn’t work that way.

In the past I’ve been ill on birthdays and ill on Christmas day and it sucks. I’d probably call it one of my absolute worst points of the illness. I was 16 and even though I loved all the gifts that I’d gotten and my family I was on a low and it wouldn’t shake no matter how hard I tried. So my family got a ‘meh’ response, I cried, my Mum got upset and my Dad was confused. It was Christmas, why was I upset?!? This was long before any diagnoses or medication and I felt like I was drowning. I hated myself for not being excitable like I normally was. A phone call changed everything though. I spoke to my Gramps on the phone and we talked, I cried again and he said not to worry Christmas can be an overwhelming time. We spoke more and by the time we ended the conversation I felt better and hugged my Mum to tell her it wasn’t anything she’d done at all.

Thankfully the further I’ve gotten into my recovery the better Christmas has been. Last year I woke up before my little sister and woke her up in our matching onesies. This year after assignments I was finally excited, singing christmas songs and getting excited about presents. Am I anxious about lows? Sure. Right now though I’m doing things to combat it, I’m getting as much sleep as I can, eating healthier and will be exercising this week at home.

I have to point out I’m at a stage in my illness where this is all possible. 16 year old me was too absorbed by it to do anything. So I guess what I’m trying to say is if you live with someone with a mental health condition they’re not doing this because they hate christmas, because they want to ‘make things difficult’ or because they’re not trying. They doing it because it’s a part of the illness. So if someone is depressed, anxious or struggling with their food just let them deal with it the way they can. If someone with an eating disorder needs to have something else at the dinner table, don’t make a fuss or judge. If someone needs half an hour of alone time because things get too much then let them. Basically they need to do what they need to do to get well.

As a message to the others who are anxious about the holidays. It’s one day ofthe year, it may seem like the biggest thing but next year there will be another christmas. The most important thing is taking every day one by one and that is what you will do. I’ve been there, when you feel like you’re going to ruin everything and people would be better off without you but that’s not you speaking, that’s the illness I promise.

So as I travel home for Christmas today, I just want to tell people to be kind. Love no matter what this Christmas and remember a hug can mean more than a million words. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas before we hurtle into 2016!

Chloe

P.S I’ll still be blogging every day over Christmas! Don’t think you’ve gotten away from me that easy!

Smiling doesn’t mean someone is ok

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She’s fine, she’s always so happy, she achieves everything she wants. Blah, blah, blah. It’s all NOISE to someone with depression. The outside is a very superficial thing, I can’t even begin to count the amount of times in the last 6 years I’ve plastered on a smile or a look to make people think that I’m enjoying myself or that I’m mentally in the room. It really upsets me, especially when sometimes people who are close to me can’t tell the difference either.

In the past week I’ve had a lot to deal with trying to get back into work, my spine flat out freaking out and refusing to let me move, having to cancel a show, a close pet dying, handing in my notice to the society, more pain, having a leak in my ceiling, missing home and everything just got too much. I got to the point where I couldn’t go anywhere that wasn’t extremely important and I only just got there. I dragged myself to my physio session and hardly spoke to anyone because I was so much pain. I couldn’t face uni for the past week. No one really cared, I became invisible in all but one situation.

You learn a lot through this illness. You learn who understands, who pretends they do. You learn what the right ways to look after yourself are eventually and how to go about them. You learn who will just sit with you, saying nothing but just being there because that’s what you need on your lowest day. You learn who will write you off as wanting ‘attention’ or ‘being selfish’ and who is educated enough to know this isn’t something you want or can switch on and off.

I don’t even know if I’m making much sense in this post but I think that might be because my own head doesn’t make sense to me half the time. The same way other people don’t because I just have a different variation of what normal is. I finally feel on my feet again, inching towards my assignments, ready to go back to class tomorrow and work with kids who need their confidence boosted. I’m still struggling and I don’t know how to feel about the rest of the week but I’m getting there with Ali, my incredible family and one or two close friends making sure I don’t fall again.

I’ll get there, after all what they say is true¬†you live, you learn.