Do you ever feel like you have been giving a seriously crap hand? Like, you try to do your best, you haven’t committed any serious crimes, your drinking can still just about be classed as recreational and you do try and do your bit to help others, even if you do turn into some kind of crazed animal at certain times of the month (ladies, we all do it). Yet, someone, somewhere, depending on what you believe, sometimes seems to take great pleasure absolutely messing with you.
I was having a chat with a lovely man today, chatting about my story and Red Balloons and stuff and he asked me, “do you think these things in your life have been a test?” I suppose I never looked at it like that, but yes! And along the lines of a bloody hard maths test with like 75 questions to answer in 10 minutes with no calculator and a broken pen!
Do you know what, yeah, I have had a lot to deal with in my short 33 (yes, short!) years of life. I am starting to realise more and more that things like my life don’t happen much to “ordinary” people. Yet, to me, in my slightly warped little mind, these things obviously happened to everyone. I shouldn’t whinge as there are so many more people worse off than me. I don’t need to talk about things with people, they don’t need to listen to my crap. I just need to get on with things. Put that incident in a little box in my brain, not deal with it and my mind is of course so HUGE that those boxes will never effect me again. Can I say, what a load of…….. poo!
I am very aware that people have things a lot worse than me. But, those people aren’t me. Everyone copes with things in very different ways. I spent so much of my life losing myself so that things that had happened could mentally “unhappen” that I ended up losing myself and my self worth. I ended up losing the whole point. But it wasn’t a choice. This is what I want to stress to people today. I would NEVER choose to feel the way I do. I would never choose to be so exhausted. I would never choose to feel like such a burden. The very same way I would never choose to have the flu. Or a broken bone.
IT IS A ILLNESS!
Depression is a very real, and at times, very destroying illness. You basically rot away from the inside. The worst symptom, sometimes not even being aware until it is very nearly too late. Or in a shocking increase of scenario’s, until it actually is too late. It can kill you. Yet, people still struggle. People still play ignorant. People still judge. Ignorance is bliss and all that. If you don’t broach the subject, it’s not real. If I don’t ask how she is, she wont be able to tell me and I can still pretend everything is A OK.
Do you know what? I get it. I get the fear behind mental health. It’s a very scary subject for a lot of people. It is hard when you are reading stuff or listening to stuff to not start to psychoanalyse yourself to a certain degree. The way you do when you Google your symptoms as you have had a bad head for a week and it tells you, you have a brain tumour or something.
What we need in this country, somehow, is more knowledge. More information. More teaching. We need to start teaching primary school children the signs. We need to start teaching them that it is an illness. We need to stop the media sensationalising people negatively who suffer with mental health problems. Did you know, a schizophrenic is much more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else? Ask yourself, how much do you REALLY know about anxiety/depression/bipolar/PTSD etc. Did you know Alzheimer’s is classed as a mental health illness? Would you be able to spot the signs if someone around you was suffering in silence? If you thought someone was, what would you do? Honestly?
Ignorance is bliss. But ignorance also causes stigma. Ignorance can kill. There are so many stereotypes about mental illnesses, too many to list unfortunately but let’s take Depression. I don’t spend all day every day crying – although yes, when I am on a downer my chances of crying is greatly heightened. Something I hate as I hate crying. I don’t spend all day in bed with the curtains closed, although I do tend to have regular day time naps IF I can fit them in as I don’t sleep well at night. I do that as a form of helping myself NOT as a factor of my illness. I get washed and generally brush my hair. Or at least I try to make it semi presentable. I keep as clean a house as I can with a hyper 4 year old boy. I volunteer, I exercise, I go to college. Yet, I am a sufferer of severe depression. To look at me, or to read my more positives blogs, I am sure there are some cynics out there. But please, it is very real to me. It is very painful to me. It can be very destructive for me.
The difference for me, the same as for many others I know or have read about, is, we take the cards we have been dealt and we use them to our advantage. We might not win the game by obvious tactics, but we take what we have and we make it work for us. We have perfected our poker faces and it’s game on! We don’t let our circumstances make us a victim, it makes us a fighter. Although we have days where we feel very weak, what we are actually doing is becoming stronger. We want to get better. I want to get better. I will do anything I possibly can to get better or, probably more accurately as there is no standard cure, get to a place where the bad days are very few and far between. I use my bad things, my memories, my emotions and I place them in my passion to help others. I will talk honestly about my story because I don’t want anyone out there thinking they are alone.
If I can help the bloke on his way to work, if I can help the lass sitting at home with a cold cup of coffee, tears running down her face as the bairns run riot, if I can help the teenage beauty queen or the war veteran who believes in the British stiff upper lip; if I can help any of these people, nothing I have been through or felt will be in vain.
This is my path now. This is where I am meant to be, doing what I was put here to do. My age means nothing, but my experiences could do. My honesty and integrity are the cards I will use in this game. And I will never give up talking the talk. I will never give up being the voice of those who aren’t as able to be as vocal.
And I wont give up in general. No matter how impossible this “test” might seem at times.