It’s been 127 days since what I call my worst time – the time when I finally started grieving and my depression took hold. I’m still not ready to share all the details of those few days, but they were dark, scary moments that I never want to have to re-live. Today, I’m still battling lots of demons and hiding invisible scars. But I have come a long way and it’s finally time to start writing again.
I have always been someone who believes in honesty, and I passionately believe that the only way the conversation about mental health will change is with brave, intentional honest conversations. So I will lead by example.
I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, brought on by losing my mum to cancer just over two years ago. My grieving process truly started 127 days ago, on June 5, 2017, despite the sadness and struggles I have encountered over the past two years. I was avoiding talking about my grief, forcing myself to stay positive and focus on the future, helping other people and not stopping for a moment to deal with my own trauma. When I did, my world crumbled and everything changed.
To cut a long story short, I suffered with panic attacks and severe depressive episodes. I took some time off work, started seeing a counsellor and am now taking anti-depressants to somewhat control my emotions. I am not ashamed of anything I have suffered, because sadly it is all too normal, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing a mental health issue in our lifetime.
Team Beth – you know who you are – have carried me through what has been a long and difficult summer. The support I have received from friends, family, my workplace, my doctor and my counsellor has been unbelievably fantastic. People have been patient, forgiving, kind, considerate, generous, understanding and thoughtful, allowing me the time I have needed to heal and rebalance.
My counsellor, who I found through the fantastic New Dawn Counselling Centre in Nottingham, has been my rock, teaching me more about myself than I have ever known before. She has encouraged and supported me through both my worst and best times, and has helped me fully understand what causes my anxiety, how to avoid it, and importantly – that I can get through it, even when it overwhelms me.
Grieving and healing
I have learnt a lot about loss, grief and healing in the last few months, and on this World Mental Health Awareness Day, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on how I feel now. I hope never to get back to how I was, instead focussing on moving upwards and forwards. But I still have plenty of bad days and I still have depression and anxiety, despite being able to cope with it much better.
I am so pleased that the conversation about mental health has changed so much in the last year, and it’s been encouraging to see the support for World Mental Health Awareness Day this year. I’ve been wearing my yellow socks all day and remembering how far I’ve come on my journey of healing. The support I have received has been fantastic, and I hope that this is the reality for many more people in the future.
It is so important that we look after those in our lives with mental health problems. If you don’t know where to start offering support, visit Mind or another charity’s website to get practical tips and advice. Together we can break down the taboos and start talking about mental health in a positive, encouraging and uplifting way.
For me, 127 days later, I’m just pleased to be alive and healthy. It’s been a long time since I last wrote and lots has changed. From now on, I’m going to keep on letting myself grieve and allowing myself to heal.
Got a story you want to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.