Mental health is a really hard thing to talk about. Hell, it’s hard to even think about, let alone acknowledge that you are suffering. The stigma is real, my friends.
I’ll be honest with you – I am luckier than most. I have good, albeit tired, days 95% of the time. Usually, I can manage this pesky little demon and go about my life worrying about regular dumb stuff like money and bills and not having been to Europe yet. But the other 5% of the time fucking sucks. My brain gets locked on, as JJ would say, and spirals again and again, leaping from one disastrous thought to another.
It’s at the point where it’s affecting others. There have been days where I haven’t been able to go to work, or went and left after a few hours because I was such a mess mentally. I break down in front of my boyfriend and start dissecting things that a normal person wouldn’t care about. My brain plays tricks on me saying this isn’t enough, how I’m living isn’t enough, and I begin to fret that I’m wasting my life away.
I’m too ashamed to talk to others about this because I’ve always been the strong one. Viv can keep her shit together, even though she has rotten genes and her brothers have suffered from much worse issues. Sure, she had a rough few years there back in high school, but she came through and now you can’t even tell how shattered she once was!
It’s so fucking easy for everyone around us to put pressure and expectations on us without considering how it affects our being. We all expect each other to just get on and do our jobs and keep the house tidy and mow the lawn and dust the cobwebs and laugh when it’s appropriate when really, it’s not always so simple.
I’ve learned that a messy space stresses me out – a reflection of my brain perhaps? – and yet I continue to end up in messy areas because I can’t keep up. I’m shit at housework, I’ll be the first to admit that, and whilst my house is still tidy from a general point of view, the little things irritate me and keep crawling deeper and deeper into the cracks.
A really great example of this is our rug – it often gets moved out of place because it sits under two chairs that tend to move (really must get grips for their feet) and then once the rug is unstraightened/crumpled up I start fretting. I get distracted and can’t concentrate and continue to glance over at it wondering why James hasn’t moved it yet, over and over again until I jump up in a huff to fix up the whole room.
It’s strange, having a mental illness (even writing that was really uncomfortable to do). I get so upset and frustrated because James can’t pick up on the signs, and yet I rarely display any physical ones. I can appear perfectly fine, and feel perfectly fine one moment, and it only takes one weird comment or sprouted thought to send me into the darkness.
Writing and speaking about this in general is difficult, mostly because I know I have it better than most. I’m still able to maintain a steady job and work hard and appear fine, and I don’t often have a weight on my chest that refuses to let me out of bed. I’m not taking any medication, and I haven’t been diagnosed and I don’t see a therapist (although it’s something I’m looking into since those suckers are trained to listen to this shit and might even understand), so I’m pretty lucky that things haven’t reached that level. And I won’t ever let them, but it’s still not exactly a comforting thought.
I often find myself getting jealous of the people I follow on social media. Not because they have insanely cool houses or jobs – I know I can work hard and achieve that – but because of how happy they seem. And how everything seriously seems to go their way. Obviously, I’m not talking about everyone, and I know that a lot of shit goes on behind the scenes, but it’s still hard sometimes watching these bloggers get whisked off on paid trips Paris here and here, whilst I can’t rack up the courage to ask for a mental health day.
Mental health is tricky, because you know there are people suffering more intensely out there, and you know there are entire third world countries dealing with bucketloads of more catastrophic shit, but ultimately, knowing these facts don’t make you get better. Our brains are a complicated and intricate mess of thoughts and actions and magic. The things we can do because of them are phenomenal, but they can also turn us against ourselves.
I wish I could say I have some wonderful solution or ‘5 steps to…’ offering to say that I’ve got this figured out. But I don’t. Not having a backup plan worries me even more, because I know that when the demons do come, I don’t have a clear action plan on how to stop them.
I know there are lots of things I should be doing – exercise, meditation, healthy eating, yadda yadda – but half my problem is finding the motivation to make that first step, and then sticking to it. I feel like I have to work 5 times harder than most people to successfully complete a self-care task that I will benefit from – which is absolutely shocking and makes me feel even more shit about. It’s a vicious cycle.
I think that’s all for now. I’m writing this on a day when I am feeling horrible. Crying, dark thoughts, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, etc. etc. and writing has helped. I’m finding myself journalling a lot more now, which is a fantastic option when you don’t feel like “burdening” other people with your thoughts (because let’s face it, we’re all as fucked up as each other, and sometimes others can’t handle the emotional stress of it all).
So that’s basically all the advice I can give. Write lots. Drink plenty of tea. Take a day off when your body tells you to. And then breathe, and find comfort through safe activities.
Till next time,