When I mention my journey with depression and anxiety, many people are surprised that I am openly talking about it. Of course, everyone knows mental health issues do exist and people do suffer from them, but I think still there is a big stigma surrounding the topic. I was thinking about it the other day, what makes people so afraid to talk about it? On one hand, you have a group of people who are struggling with mental health but are fully aware of their issues, yet they don’t talk about it, because they are embarrassed and afraid of being judged. And on the other hand, there is another group, who knows the first group exists, but they don’t really understand what’s exactly going on in their minds, therefore they don’t want to pick up the conversation just in case they will sound insensitive.
When I was younger, I never even thought of myself as a person who can be suffering from mental health. You know, I just thought am having a bad day, bad week, bad year and I was always blaming someone else for either my happiness or misery. It was always someone else, not me. Suddenly I reached a point in my life in which I found myself on the edge of the platform at one of the train stations in London, ready to jump, and only then the idea of me being unwell hit me. Is it true that it’s me who needs help, and not others? It was over four years ago and I remember every detail from that day exactly like it was yesterday. What stopped me from jumping then was the thought of my dog being left alone if I end my own life. I was having a long term partner then too, but all I could think was my dog. I cannot even explain why I didn’t think of my boyfriend, but I guess I thought he will be just fine, but my dog will be upset and will miss me and I couldn’t do that to him. Not to a dog, who I raised since he was eight weeks old. I’m his mum, and I just can’t leave him without a mum. I came to the home on that day and I made the decision to call my local doctor the next day. I remember it was the first moment in my entire life when I admitted to myself that it’s me who needs help and not others.
Was it easy? Not really, I was very afraid. But then, I wanted to talk about it with others because I thought it’s really big and people should understand how I feel. I mean, I am experiencing something, it’s part of my current life, am going through a pretty rough time, so all my actions and words – please don’t take them personally, because it’s not me right now. That’s what I was always telling everyone around me. I felt that by talking to others who went through depression before me, I will understand my own self a little bit more. It’s like, if you are a woman expecting a baby, you do want to speak to other women who had babies, so you can find out what is it like, how can you ease your own pain, what can you do more, etc. And so I felt the need for gaining information on depression and anxiety, but the response wasn’t really great. I heard either: ‘I am sorry to hear that, hope you feel better soon’ from people who never experienced depression (group number two), or ‘I’ve been there, not fun, hope you feel better soon’ from group number one – people who do suffer from mental health but are embarrassed to talk about it. Ok, your answers are all great, thank you, but I need more. I can read about treatments & descriptions online, but what people feel when they are going through depression? Or panic attacks, phobias, anxiety, etc. What exactly goes through their minds? I needed to know that, so I could understand it better.
And I think this is the main fundamental problem with mental health, people don’t talk about how they feel. They really don’t. But what do they think of when they see a spider and they are afraid of spiders? What do they think of when they believe there is no way out? How your emotions are at the start of the day and then two hours later? What affects your mood? What is your trigger? What is your safe place and why? Why do you think you cannot stand up to bullies? What will happen when you do? Are you afraid? Of what exactly? There is so many questions I would like to ask, yet can’t find answers online. What we need are real-life conversations about mental health. Honest, open and not embarrassing.
You know, when I finished my therapy a few years ago, I knew that anxiety and depression will always be part of my life, but little I knew that it will be so quickly when I find myself again on a therapist chair. I haven’t been great for a few weeks now, I mean, I am not suicidal, but I am struggling. And it’s not depression this time, but extreme anxiety, low self-esteem, anger management, and online shopping addiction. I think I reached a rock bottom again, with my own boyfriend having enough of me. It’s actually not even a rock bottom if I am honest, it’s like I have been walking and walking, and I am stuck in front of the wall now, with no doors, or windows and no other direction to go to. I have to cross this wall, but I don’t know how to. I do have the idea of what is causing me to feel this way, but I do need professional help to guide me. And it’s not embarrassing to do that. I wish it took me longer to be strong on my own, but it’s ok, I am strong enough now to ask for help again.
I am constantly talking about ‘talking about’ mental health because my goals are to prevent suicides by sharing my own knowledge and help other people who feel similar to me. If we talk more about how we feel, what is it like to go through depression and anxiety, and get familiar with different feelings and emotions, then more people will be aware of it too, and so they can ask for help when they need it. It’s ok not to be ok. Not everyone is perfect, and not every situation is perfect, but we aren’t alone with this and together we can go through this.
Me going through therapy again won’t stop me from writing about my own emotions. If someone can help me, and then I can help someone else, then that’s what matters to me. I am not saying am not afraid, because I so am to go through it again. But I know am not alone with this, and we can all help each other by sharing how we feel.
My first step is done, I did ask for help. It’s time for you now.