That big taboo subject that nobody likes talking about, the one that makes you feel all cringy inside and you're scared to admit to having problems with. Yet, in the world we're living the statistics for Mental Health Problems are shocking, causing drives such as Mental Health Awareness. We're more then comfortable to complain of our awful cold (man-flu), yet can't admit we have anxiety and so I am here to open up some discussions and hopefully freedom about this topic.
How common are mental health problems? (Mind uk)
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England .
1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England.
Suicidal thoughts and self-harm aren’t mental health diagnoses. But they are related to mental health. Over the course of someone’s lifetime
1 in 5 people have suicidal thoughts
1 in 14 people self-harm
1 in 15 people attempt suicide.
Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts than men. But men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women.
Approximately only 1 in 8 adults with a mental health problem are currently getting any kind of treatment.
So if only 1 in 8 are getting treatment, how are the other 7 coping? We need to feel free and able to seek help, know that it is ok, acceptable, helpful and you are worthy of all the help that is out there!
So here is my own story and how this lifestyle has helped along the journey. If you have read my two previous blog posts you will know some of my history and where I've come from. It took my YEARS to admit to myself and even longer to admit to others that I do suffer with my mental health. My first taste of it was 12 years ago when I was 18 and my brother left (none did I know - for 6 years!) and I started getting panic attacks. I would be laying in bed or watching TV or reading a book and would feel this wave come over me, suddenly I was hyperventilating, my heart was racing, my whole body shaking, and I was filled with this horrendous overwhelming fear so strong that I would end up throwing up. It would then disappear as quick as it came. I had this for over a year and spent every minute of every day wandering when it would happen again. My dad is against medication due to the effect it has had on my mom so I used distraction and grounding to get myself out of it.
DEPRESSION / GRIEF
Fast forward a few years and I had just got out of a relationship where I was being raped. I was taught to drive by being punched in my arm if I made a mistake. But in the midst of this I lost the child I so desperately wanted to adopt (looking back now it's the best thing that could've happened, that was no place to raise a child - but I had so much love for him I was determined to make it work). The whole thing fell through, he promised to attend anger management classes, but I was done. Without my baby there was no way I was staying. However I also didn't want to move back in with my parents, and I was so hurt, and depressed, lonely, despondent and hadn't learned basic lifeskills like EMOTION as a child that I couldn't deal with it. I had a job 2 days a week so made myself completely drunk on the Friday, stayed drunk until the Wednesday night and then sober up to work on the Thursday. I didn't eat much as that just inhibited the alcohol! My mom convinced me that I would kill myself if I stayed so I needed to return home.
I then entered a period where life was a game of risk, driving my land rover 50+mph over a humped bridge and getting all weeks off the floor, spinning (wheelies) it on gravel, getting up to 6-7 coffee's a day, not sleeping more then a few hours a night, walking in a forest at midnight, drunk driving, drinking too much in general...I did it all. I wasn't necessarily trying to harm myself but my fear had gone and something in me needed to prove that someone cared enough to stop me.
Alcohol wasn't allowed in my parents house, so I needed a new coping strategy and I worked - I worked myself to the bone. I was doing 120+ hour weeks, working 6-7 days at a time, 15 hour days. I then got accustomed to that and needed to up the anti, so I started doing a 12 hour day straight onto a 12 hour night or a 15 hour day straight onto a 9 hour night. I got accustomed to that so I started doing more and more. Eventually I was working 3-4 days and nights all at once then would sleep for 2 days and restart the cycle. It got to the point where I was hallucinating in my sleep, I would hear the hospital bells go and wander around my home trying to find 'the patient'. Another time I had a man in my home - or at least thought I did, I fell asleep in a traffic jam, I ate dried pasta because I thought it was crisps, I lost my car in the parking lot outside my own home. The wake up call for me came when I slept through Christmas only waking up to eat and drive home. Boxing day I slept until 4pm and felt so guilty that I hadn't walked the dogs, fed them or let them out. I knew I had to change! I got a different job working 30 hours a week and for at least a few months kept to that while my body recovered.
Fast forward a couple of years though and life in my new town was tough, I wasn't earning enough and so once the bills were paid there was nothing left for food. I lived in my brothers house and was too proud to admit how bad things had got so was making a potato last as long as possible, was feeding the dogs and having nothing leftover. It broke my spirit and I needed a way out, so on top of my job I started volunteering at the church. I volunteered for everything going and soon I was back in my old habits of hiding the pain in my mind, hiding my mental health with work.
PHYSICAL STRESS RESPONSE
Fast forward 2 years and I was doing an Internship at the church taking up 4 days a week, then working my 30 hours around this, and then volunteering on at least 4 different teams and what I wouldn't fill up with this I would fill with 15 hour overtime days and once the week was complete I was back onto 80 hour weeks again. I did this for months and then my mind started struggling again because of the Celebrate Recovery course, the Internship which in parts focused deeply on my past and counselling my mind started struggling again and it all got too much. I ignored my brain and so my body shut down. I went from doing 80 hour weeks to not being able to make it up the stairs. A visit to the doctor and 2 weeks on the couch later I was fine. It was a stress response and a real wake up call. I needed to cut back on things and deal with what was going on inside me rather then trying to cover it up so started writing an autobiography which I found therapeutic and was able to deal with memories as they came up.
Fast forward 3 years and I am now a single foster carer to a little boy with a life limiting condition and complex care needs, a mother who may not make it to December she's so ill, having had to give up work and recently moved house, a big meeting coming up and so much else going and yet again not dealing with the problem. But now I can't drink or work because of my son, I can't be self-destructive as I need to be on form to care for him first and foremost. Then I had my first anxiety attack but for 3 hours I thought I was dying and too ashamed to tell anyone...finally figuring out what was going on I was able to calm myself down. Then the next day while eating crisps in the garden I could feel my heart start to race, my breathing getting heavy, my hands shaky, my legs wobbly and a feeling of absolute dread.
I was able to talk to someone who was able to share their own experiences with me, offer practical advice and basically just support me through it. I felt so ashamed that it was happening, that I wasn't strong or in control of my own emotions, I felt like such a burden and a failure, weak... because I couldn't be completely independent, all of a sudden I need help. Yet, as they told me of their own struggles and how they have worked through them I felt so much repect for the amount of strength they had, admiration for how they dealt with it, gratitude for being there for me the whole time I felt horrendous. I felt so positive about them and their ability to share their journey and yet like a piece of crap for going through it myself. As humans we are so hard on ourselves, where we see strength in others we see weakness in ourselves. We need to be kinder, more honest, more accepting with ourselves!
I think the real lesson I have learned is to be open about struggles, I share if I'm feeling sick from a cold and I'm learning I need to share what's going on upstairs too, that having anxiety is no more shameful, taboo or makes me any weaker then any physical problem I could have. I'm learning thats its just as OK to have medication for anxiety as it is for me to have medication for a cold. I'm learning it's OK to talk. My biggest lesson has come from having no other option then to deal with it head on, I cant drink now with a child, I cant work until I'm too tired to think, I can't run from it, so all of a sudden I need to deal with it...and it feels a million times better then all my other strategies!
Spanking and PTSD
In November 2020 after suffering with flashbacks of various traumas in my past, reliving moments not necessarily through pictures but also the emotions and physical feelings would come back if triggered; I was diagnosed with PTSD and panic disorder. This is from repeated abuse and childhood trauma. I was so embarrassed and didn't want anyone to know, I kept it from my parents for ages, from family and friends. I'm on a high dose of meds which really help now, and the stabiluty, safety, structure and accountability of DD really helps with my self destruct mode.
Mental health matters, if you are struggling please open up and talk about it - learn from my own lifetime of mistakes, running doesn't help!
Edited by leighaddyTiH