This blog is part of a series of blog posts to mark Mental Health Awareness Day on the 10th of October. There are other guest bloggers also writing their own blogs on different days. For more information click here.
1 IN 4 PEOPLE will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of the year.
WOMEN are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men, and about 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time.
DEPRESSION affects 1 in 10 older people.
SUICIDE rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide and self harm, than British women, statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe.*
I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and mild depression just under a year ago. I was not offered medication, but had 6 sessions of telephone counselling, which at the time had a really positive effect on how I dealt with my issues and, even after the sessions were over, gave me the ability to continue what I’d been taught without the help of regular counsellors phone calls.
My anxiety and depression “triggers”, according to the counsellors, were my previous miscarriages (I had 3 recurrent losses between my 5 year old and 2 year old). They put it down to a type of stress disorder that people usually associate with people who’ve had bad accidents or fought in wars- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and miscarriage isn’t actually that common. When these are linked however, the outcome is most commonly anxiety and/or depression.
The symptoms I presented with, were, constant tiredness, it took me ages to go to sleep, when I was asleep I was woken really easily-then couldn’t go back to sleep, I either over-ate or didnt want to eat, and I was majorly over emotional.
I don’t feel as though I ever dealt with the fact I’d lost babies. I got on with trying to make the next one. Not grieving properly for what you’ve lost, creates a detrimental effect on the ability to deal with future issues. So, 3 years after my last miscarriage, I’m still grieving and the result from that-anxiety and depression. It’s a vicious circle that needs intervention from the get-go before it spirals out of control.
During my first course of counselling, the usual questions during assessment to see my level of anxiety and depression were asked. They always ask you whether you would consider physically hurting yourself. I always ALWAYS make a joke to say I couldn’t, I have a seriously low pain threshold so wouldn’t get that far. Then they ask you, whether you’ve made attempts to, or thought about, ending your life. I always assume that would be painful too so answer with the same as the other question.
During this year I’ve had to see the doctor to re-refer me for more help from counsellors, as I’ve felt the issues I’ve had are harder to deal with once more.
During the assessment with a different counselling team who offer face to face appointments, they asked me those same questions again. Obviously I mentioned the joke I had with the other people, but this time, when they asked me the other question I hesitated. The options for your answer are, ‘none of the time’, ‘some of the time’, ‘most of the time’ or ‘all of the time’.
I’m unsure whether to explain my reasons for the answer I gave first, or the actual answer.
For the best part of 4 months now, I’ve suffered with stomach issues. I’ve had most of the tests, everything’s come back negative. The only thing left would be a colonoscopy, which hasn’t been mentioned since all the other tests came back negative. They’re now putting it down to my anxiety. The symptoms I have are debilitating to say the least. I’ve spent the entire summer holiday period in agony. Unable to leave the house, my children went stir crazy for some days, as did I. The pain cripples me, I run a temperature, I feel physically sick, then when it’s over, I feel like I’ve run a marathon-drained would be an understatement. The only way through the milder days is by overdosing on the medication the doctor gave me to help the symptoms.
There are times, during these months, where I haven’t seen the point in getting up. On several occasions, I’ve pleaded with a divine being, somewhere, to let me go to sleep and to stop me from waking up.
As previously mentioned, my pain threshold is appalling, I couldn’t do anything to myself. But sometimes I just haven’t wanted to be here.
When I was asked the question about thinking about ending my life, I answered ‘some of the time’, while quickly adding, I couldn’t do anything to harm myself. When I explained why I’d answered in that way, the counsellor said he understood completely. I knew he would, I knew because of a long term illness, a lot people think that.
But what would he have said, if I’d said, sometimes I’m just too unhappy to carry on? What if I’d said, that the amount of unsupportive people who not only don’t understand, but don’t want to understand, outweigh the few that do understand, and I end up thinking it’s not even worth carrying on? I can’t make people understand my issues, some people are just too uneducated and ignorant to even want to understand. And, although on a smaller scale sometimes, I do feel this way-and that scares me so much, let alone what it would make people who know me, think or feel!
Anxiety and depression aren’t “fixable” or “all in people’s heads”. Sufferers can’t just “not think like that”. We need support, understanding and empathy. If you can’t give someone that, then that’s your issue, don’t make it another one of ours. People with anxiety or depression need strong people in their lives, to guide and help them through the rockiest of days and keep them celebrating the good days.
I suppose I AM one of the lucky ones! I have my children and family, to keep me out of that big black hole, to give me a reason to carry on. And I do have people who understand to a degree. Some sufferers aren’t so lucky and these are who we should be supporting the most.
For help or advice if you think you may be suffering from anxiety or depression, please visit one or all of the following websites. Most offer a telephone helpline too who can help.
Times of desperation and dark thoughts can come to anyone. If you need to speak to someone right away, please call the Samaritans on 116 123
*statistics taken from Mental Health UK statistics.