Mental health

In the past I had periods of depression. The worst being unable to get out of bed for four months. As a consequence, I gained allot of weight.
It was thanks to the brilliant Sean T and his fitness DVDs Insanity, which got me back into shape, motivating me to move and work in London. It was a hard two months, and I was very over weight, but unable to leave the house at the time, Sean T became my best friend.
From this, I learnt how important exercise was for my mental well being. Without fitness, my life fell apart.
I had a second experience of serious mental health issues during my time in London in 2016.
Unable to sleep for two weeks, eating very little, going through a break up and getting bullied at work resulted in a huge break down. I literally lost my mind.
For the two week build up it was as if I was on speed. Not that I’ve ever taken speed, but my thoughts and speech were rapid and I felt elevated.
I began started imagining things, experiencing paranoia and could not focus. I began losing myself.
I was then instituted for two weeks – quite comical as I wasn’t in the position to sign the paperwork – and I could not leave free will.
Looking back at my time in the institute, I was paranoid, unsure of the people, unsure about the place and unsure about myself.
I kept wondering into the boys ward (preferring a sofa there) resulting in getting kicked out and moved to another institute in Winchester.
At this stage the heavy medication started to kick in and I slowly became myself again. I was now aware of my situation but still felt mentally unwell.
I had developed side effects to the medication – I couldn’t tie my shoelaces – and had lost quite a bit of weight.
I was diagnosed originally bipolar and my psychotherapist explained from the break down I had developed a chemical brain imbalance.
The medication would help restore transmission between neurons preventing the extreme lows and the extreme highs.
In all honesty I wouldn’t of minded experiencing the highs… however I have only experienced the lows since leaving the ward.
When I was allowed to go home I was very fragile. For half a year I was unable to sleep by myself.
As my break down originated from lack of sleep, I developed a fear of it, becoming anxious towards bed time. My mum had to stay by me and wait till I was asleep.
I also couldn’t sit still for longer than a minute. I couldn’t watch television or read as my mind would panic.
I tried to keep working, going up to London twice a week to teach my classes, assisted by my mum. It must of been funny watching me stand up and pace on the train and sit back down again, for then to repeat this 10 minutes later. Train journeys were always the hardest.
My closest friends spotted I wasn’t okay but didn’t quite know what had happened. I had disappeared for a month during my illnes and my treatment. However, I pretended I was fine.
It’s been three years now and after different forms of therapy and on the lowest dosage of medication, I am back to myself.
At times I can feel anxious or overwhelmed. I can feel periods of low. But it is all manageable. This didn’t happen over night. I was equipped with coping strategies from therapy and my mum and I had extensively read up on the brain.
I can now look at my thoughts objectively and break down the cause and what I need in that moment to be okay.
It can be something like journaling or mediating/practicing mindfulness. Other times I need external help. Which I now realise is okay.
Mental health should be talked about. It can be a hard topic, but if you’re experiencing something, having someone to share it with can be life changing. If you’re going through something, reach out.
I have many people to be thankful for, but I don’t think I’d be where I am without my mum. If you can’t talk to a family member, talk to your GP, google what community is out there or call/see someone within the many mental health services.
You can’t stay in the storm forever. Trust me.
Since my breakdown I’ve now been training to become a counsellor, with the future dream to help young people with mental health issues.
I never would have taken this career path if it wasn’t for this experience.
My closing thought is never to underestimate the importance of a difficult life experience. There is always an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and grow as an individual.
It’s taken me a while to share my story.
I hope you can share yours.

Self Harm
Warning graphic content

This comes as a shock to most people but there are times I imagine what it would be like to slit my wrist and see blood pour out.
I’ve never used a knife.
There’s a slight roughness on the part of my steering wheel where if I run my fingers over, it catches. The sensation gives me a small pleasure. Often when I’m driving and feeling anxious I find the roughness and repeatedly run my finger over it.
I’ve read when the level of emotional pressure becomes too high, self harming acts as a safety valve, a way of relieving the tension.
Harming can take away the bad feelings. But what you should know it’s momentarily.
Pain can make you feel more alive when feeling numb or dead inside. But, what’s making you feel numb to begin with?
Self harming gives a sense of control that may be missing elsewhere in your life. Now is the time to activate your self awareness, to analyse what is missing in your life and what actions you need to take.

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