The ironic thing about having a mental health issue of any kind is you do often wonder if it is all in your head. Funny eh? Well to be honest, no. It’s not.
The thing is, you spend so much time lying to yourself, hiding it, faking, pretending and all the rest that you get to the point where you genuinely don’t know what the fuck is real anymore. Until you hit that point where your whole world seems to just…. stop.
I have suffered depression now for over 12 year, most probably longer, but certainly from around the time my beautiful daughter was born. I’ll let you into a secret though, through all my previous lows, cutting my wrists and being a fraction away from being admitted, to taking my hands off the wheel of my car amongst other things, I have never believed truly that there was anything that bad wrong with me. Until my meeting with an work appointed Occupational Health Therapist yesterday.
With doctors you give them an at that time recap of where you are in your life. So over time a lot of things build up that maybe you don’t realise or can forget. With the OH I had to go back over my past and fill in the gaps for him. This was fair enough, I could do that, matter of fact logical Claire came into play and reeled off what he needed to know. What got me was when he read back his findings into his Dictaphone while I was sat there, ready to do his report later. It made my blood run cold. What have I been doing to myself?!
Kind of along the same lines as yesterday’s Self Doubt, because mental illnesses have been around me my whole life through different people, some of quite serious levels, I have spent so much time comparing mine to theirs and thinking “shut the fuck up Claire, you’re just being a whingey bitch”. I know now, or at least I am starting to, that you can not compare your journey to anyone else’s. They are like finger prints, everyone has one completely unique to them. As we are all different people, we have different ways of coping with certain things. What I find easy or deal with well can be particularly hard for some one else. I will always remember my friend sharing her story with me, and I wont lie, it is extremely distressing. I cried. It is heart breaking to think such horrible things occur to such amazing people. She shared hers so I shared some of my history. She turned around, despite everything that had happened in her own life, and said I couldn’t have coped with what you have been through. You are so strong.
Like, what the actual fuck?!
I suppose I have always believed that what has happened over the years is normal. That it happens to loads of people. That there are people so much worse off than me. Therefore I just wouldn’t let myself admit that there was anything wrong. In my eyes there shouldn’t be. I would say this is the biggest mistake I could have made, and to a degree for the sake of my health I suppose it was, but then I do wonder if I would be on the path I am on now, if I had accepted I had problems and had got them sorted soon enough. To use the terms my OH used, I suppose my bathtub was just not quite that full to overflowing. I could just about keep mopping up the spillages without making so much of a mess. Dab hand with a mop me! Not that you would believe me if you could see my kitchen floor like lol.
The thing with the OH, who was a lovely man from Belfast, got to love the Irish, is that he had no links to me. He did not know me from Adam (who the hell is Adam by the way? That phrase always intrigues me), he didn’t have my medical notes, he had a very vague idea of my work situation and why I was there, yet within 1 hour he made me feel more accepting and aware of my situation than anyone else ever has. My counsellor is awesome, and I am making incredible progress between her and this blog, but he just got me. He made me believe for possibly the first time ever, that what was happening to me was not my fault. I am genuinely ill. I am not exaggerating. I am not faking. I am not skiving. I am not making a mountain out of a mole hill. It’s not all in my head.
He didn’t just assess me, he also tried to teach me and help me understand a bit more. I think I took up more of his time than I should of but I left that office with him shaking my hand and telling me I am strong and I am getting better. He actually made me believe I will get better. Considering it’s a life long, incurable disease, it does not have to be something that I suffer with. He assured me that I am doing everything right – the counselling, the anti depressants, although these need to be checked, and most relevant for me, my exercise. He was genuinely so supportive of what I was doing and how I was doing it. He admired my drive and determination despite all the stumbling blocks that are in front of me that could potentially de rail me. He knows I want to get better, that I do not want this to be a noose around my neck any longer than it needs to be and because of this he knows I can achieve what I need to.
I was thinking I would be back to work within the next week or so, I had got myself quite stressed over thinking I should be back now. That I was taking the piss. He has made me see that at this moment in time it is certainly not suitable for me. The bath water has not emptied to a safe level just yet BUT the end is in sight. The bubbles have gone and I can see the base of the bath. Work is a very small contributing factor to my circumstances but by no means the reason I am where I am. Until these issues have been addressed or unearthed completely, where I am and what I am doing now is what is important to me. I need to build myself back up. I need to work on my self esteem and my self confidence in order to be the kick ass bitch I know I can be.
I want to thank that OH for making me feel validated. For helping me clear the rubble and seeing things for what they are. I believe I am over the worst. The dark thoughts are getting fewer every day now. I know I will look back in a years time and appreciate what I have been through and how I have managed to come out the other side. I have not let me beat me. I am obviously meant to be here for a reason. Whatever that reason is, is not clear at the minute, but I know it will be in good time.
I am going to bed tonight with a genuine smile on my face. For what I have learnt, for what I have, for who I have on my side, for what I have achieved in such a small time already………. and for the proper mint base tan I have managed to put in place in my garden today.
Happy as the proverbial pig!!