I’m not quite sure that this rings true for people who have mental health issues, in fact; I am pretty sure that a whole tree full of apples a day would not keep depression at bay.
Paul Lake, ex Manchester City player has recently given a radio interview about the mental health problems that he has suffered with throughout his career. After listening to his great interview, which you can listen to by clicking here, it inspired me to spend a bit of time talking about this issue again. I have previously read Paul’s autobiography and it’s a very interesting read to see how someone who had so many plans and commitment to his impending football stardom lose all of his football dreams following an injury and a fall into depression, through no fault of his own. That is the key to this piece, most people don’t have mental health problems because they are fault, it can happen to the best of us.
Most of you reading this will know that I had a series of mental health problems following the loss of our daughter Millie. Some of you will be reading this right now and be thinking that all parents who lose a child suffer from mental health problems, in reality that isn’t the case and to be honest, I am glad it isn’t. Due to a series of issues at the time Millie passed away I ended up being diagnosed with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression. These diagnoses were not made easily and I was reluctant for a long time to actually accept that something was wrong with me. My biggest problem being that I refused to talk. Even when I eventually saw a psychologist I reluctantly sat there in her office the first few times and just cried, I could not get the words out. All the words were there, all muddled up and whizzing around my head but I just couldn’t bring myself to physically say them out loud because when I did, to me that meant that I was admitting that I had something wrong with me. I was frightened that when I admitted this, it was going to hang around me for the rest of my life, that it was going to affect my relationships and my career.
Has it? The honest answer. Absolutely not.
As Paul Lake mentions in his interview “when you talk about depression and you deal with depression, it’s a sign of strength – not a weakness” I wish someone had said this to me when I was struggling, maybe I would have started to talk a lot earlier than I did.
Image credit: http://mental-health-quotes.tumblr.com
What does this mean? Okay , so as you can see all the muddled up stuff at the front of my head can still be very confusing for me but in comparison to the first drawing you saw, it’s a lot less confusing than it used to be.
Now what happens next is now I can send my “head muddles”, such a technical term 😀 across my brain into the little boxes at the back of my head where they can stay for a little while until I am ready to deal whatever issue it is. By having these boxes constantly in my head and using them daily means that I can function and get on with my daily life much better.
I do apologise for my childlike drawings, I am the world’s worst artist!
I was so angry. I was angry at myself, I was angry at the world, I was angry about what had happened to Millie and I was angry at Dan. Why didn’t he feel like me? Why didn’t he get the horrendous flashbacks and the nightmares where I would wake up and I was choking? Why didn’t he keep seeing the same images over and over again like they had been burnt into my brain? Why wasn’t he the one having panic attacks in public? Why wasn’t he the one that walked out of rooms if a friend brought a young child in? I didn’t understand any of this. I do now. I understand that Dan was suffering from grief because we had lost our daughter and I understand now that my grief was a lot more complex due to a number of matters – matters that were out of my control. Things are different now, I am in control. I can control the power of my black dog , I can turn him back into a puppy. Dan become my rock even more by helping me through my illnesses and I wouldn’t wish any of what I went through in my head on him, I would rather go through my toughest mental health periods again than to see him suffer like I did.
I completely agree with what Paul Lake when he talks about “not recognising the person that you were but not being ashamed of that person” – that person that you look back on has become part of you whether you like it or not. The key is to maintain what you have learnt through this process and to be able to call back on what you have learnt and discovered about yourself on this journey as and when you need to on days in the future when you may be struggling more than usual.
So many people suffer from mental health problems and struggle in private. I hope that by writing this piece and talking about this “taboo” topic that one person will be able to stand up and get help.
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Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to access the mental health services through the NHS, in that way, I was one of the lucky ones as I got access very quickly due to my severe symptoms. I genuinely wish that there was more money in this country to allow more people to access these services because I can honestly say that without them, I wouldn’t be here today.
Now if you’ve read anything that I have written previously about mental health then you know what I’m going to say now!
If you know someone that is struggling right now with any mental health problems, please give them a text to say hi, send them an emoticon with a smile on it or ask them if they want to meet for a cup of tea – right now, yes go on, as you’re reading this please – I’ll pause for a few seconds here whilst you do this …… la de dah, la de dah , dum dideee, dum didee – SEND.. great, now I can carry on.
If they don’t today, ask them again in a few days and they might surprise you and say yes and it might just be the day that they really do need that communication and a friend to talk to.
The worst thing that you can do is ignore the problem if you see it and pretend that it’s not happening. It’s not good for the person who is suffering whether that is yourself or someone else.
Look around you at the people you know, I can point out people in my circles that have/are suffering from depression, OCD,PND and panic attacks – all types of mental health illnesses. It’s not as far away from you as you’d like to think.
Mental health should not be a taboo subject in 2016 and it’s a genuine shame that it is.
For more information on mental health illnesses, click here
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To search for details on Millie’s Trust, click here