I’m 100% sat in bed writing this whilst listening to all eight Harry Potter soundtracks on shuffle… it’s been a long few weeks, with a lot of emotion – with some pretty rubbish lows and some pretty wonderful highs. I had a lovely time in Spain with my mum, returning back home just in time for a wisdom tooth removal.
The past two weeks have certainly been mixed with good and bad times, with the passing of a very close family friend, to the wedding of another close family friend (best friend); things have certainly felt bittersweet. While being off work – thanks to my wisdom tooth removal – I’ve had a lot time to reflect on both the positive and heart-breaking moments of the past few weeks. I’d exhausted myself trying to make sense of what I ‘needed’ to feel, as well as trying to avoid the pain of acknowledging certain emotions.
I held up pretty well whilst on holiday – there was only a few times where I could feel intense low mood creeping up on me – and I managed to find ways to cope with this – through reading, swimming, getting some fresh air and so forth. In fact, having a week in Spain really did do me a wealth of good.
I guess things also felt a little strange as I’d recently finished seeing my psychologist, my home treatment team contact had ended and I’m in the process of having my care transferred to a new service due to changes in Birmingham mental health care. This has meant that I’ve had a lot of time to ‘rest’ from continuously re-visiting painful memories during therapy – at first I was terrified at the prospect of not having weekly psychological support – but actually I’ve found the break quite refreshing. Of course other factors in my personal life – such as the loss of a loved one, have definitely impacted my wellbeing, however I’ve been coping – and I’ve had a lot of time to acknowledge how strong I (and my family) are.
I worry that I’ve grown so used to having the space to speak with a mental health professional that I’d no longer be able to make sense of things and deal with things on my own. I’ve worried a lot about being weak, and that people mock me due to my ‘need’ for mental health support – but I know that I’ve had a lot to deal with in my past – and I responded to these events in my own way – there is no ‘normal’ way to deal with trauma – and I do believe – in fact I know – how strong I have been while receiving support. It’s not easy discussing the things that scare and confuse you – the things that have left you feeling ‘broken’, ‘stupid’ or ‘wrong’ – I’ve found strength in facing up to the things that have left me feeling incredibly vulnerable and at risk. I’ve certainly not managed to process everything yet – but I know that I am able to make it through things – and that includes the intense pull of therapy and frequently breaking down my fears, thoughts and ultimately – facing up to the things that leave me feeling ashamed.
Looking after your mental health is so incredibly important – I do at times feel incredibly ashamed that I’m acting ‘dramatic’ and ‘silly.’ I worry about what others may think – however, I know that what I’m going through is real – if this was fake, and if I was making this up then I’d be a bloody brilliant actress. Plus, I have no idea how my brain would have let me keep up that act for so long…
Crap things happen in life, but I know that there are people who are willing to help you acknowledge, process and make sense of all the darkness, all the stress and all the crap things. Whether that’s your family, your partner, your friends, colleagues, your GP, a mental health professional, your cat, your dog or even your post man – it’s okay to speak to others about what you’re going through – you’re not ‘sharing the burden’ you are in fact reaching out and being incredibly strong. It’s difficult facing up to things, and there is no right or wrong way to do so, some may find it easier to open up to those closest to them – some may not feel they need therapeutic support, and others may feel that in fact therapeutic support is the right thing for them.
We are only human, and we can’t and don’t have to go through things alone – we don’t live one dimensional lives – we find strength and guidance through many different things in our paths – whether that’s through faith, through friends, through the lyrics or melody of a song, the story-line and characters of a novel, or a film, through observing others doing things they love, or through simply speaking a listening to others. We seek and share experiences – and we are certainly not weak or stupid seeking support and sharing our thoughts with others – including psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, advisers… the list goes on. (How wonderful that there are so many people willing to listen).