So this year it feels like I’ve done nothing but talk about my mental health. That’s the trouble with symptoms in the mind you keep being asked to explain what’s going on, how you are feeling, what you are experiencing, one never ending round of reviews. That’s why this Time to Talk day I’d like to pay tribute to those who have supported me and listened.
If we start with those closest we begin with my Mum and partner. Both whom have gone to the ends of the earth for me this year. They have never given up on me. Trips to A and E, endless hospital visits at the other end of the city, caring for my daughter, lifts to appointments, endless emotional support. If I tried to list everything it would go beyond acceptable blog content. Needless to say I am very lucky to have such devoted people in my life. Next is my daughter, constantly humming a cheerful song, hospital visits despite fear of hospitals, when she surprises me with a compliment, accompanying me on shopping trips I can’t do alone and tolerating the chaos of having a mentally ill parent without letting it impact on her behaviour to others. She continues to support and encourage me in her own special way.
Before becoming unwell this year I’ve always kept friends at arm’s length, the difficulty with having Asperger’s and associated depression is that friendship at times can just feel too hard. Often overwhelmed by the social demands of work I’ve found it too hard to keep in touch with people outside of this. I’ve had to reach out to people I know this year and I’ve been grateful for their support. To my friend ‘T’ who dropped everything to come and sit with me when I was under Section 136 in hospital (advocating for me throughout), who’s support has remained constant throughout my illness. Messages encouraging me to eat, offers of transport to appointments, meal support and understanding when I had to cancel yet another arrangement. Then there are my friends ‘M’ and ‘M’, in a different age bracket to me, but some of the kindest people I’ve ever met, I’ve been taught about bird watching and nature and have felt ‘held’ by their kind messages, emails and hospital visits where we enjoyed a couple of very memorable walks (one due to the huge down pour of rain we weren’t expecting!) I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people and really appreciate it when others remind me to make the effort. My friend ‘MB’ who I’d lost touch with sometime ago kindly allowed me to reconnect with them during a hospital admission they had and they continued to be there for me whilst I was in hospital. I have good memories of awaiting the ‘tea round’ and beaten by them at every game I tried to play! Then there is my friend ‘B’, full of endless practical support, from helping us to move house, to coming to sort me out in the middle of the night when in the midst of a mental health crisis (and dealing with me being sick/speaking to the crisis line which is a horrendous experience for anyone to have to deal with!) To ‘B’ and everyone who I have volunteered with who has picked up the organising of volunteer work I’ve not been so able to do lately, thank you. I’ve still felt included despite not being able to do as much.
When on my own I can get quite lonely and I do reach out to social media for advice and reassurance. There are too many people to mention who have helped me, but off the top of my head https://anxiousbirding.wordpress.com/ ‘I’ for often asking how I am, providing wonderful photos to inspire me and giving me much needed guidance on medication whilst I was in hospital, without this advice I don’t think I would be as far forwards as I am now. Also to ‘C’ who having experienced an eating disorder herself has taken the time on many occasions to give me wise advice, kind words and guidance. Having an eating disorder & other mental health problems is a very lonely place to be and can only be truly understood by someone who has experienced it themselves. And finally to the ‘Dr EL’ a random Twitter acquaintance with unwavering positive comments and concern, one day we will meet in person and have a good walk!
I try to stay away from the work element in my blog, so I won’t go into specifics. There are a couple of people though who have gone out of their way since my return to work to make things easier for me. Offers of help with difficult tasks, nice comments, not making a fuss when I’m emotionally overwhelmed and if in doubt an offer of a cup of tea. Without this I wouldn’t have been able to stay in work and make as much progress as I have done.
Mental Health support wise the real turning point for me was seeing a Psychologist in hospital, for the first time in a long while I met a professional who stuck to everything she said, she taught me tools which were genuinely helpful, she remembered things about me. I won’t forget how hard things were in hospital until she offered to attend my ward round and support me in planning my treatment. It was like a beacon shining in a confusing darkness and key to my recovery, she even saw me at home for a couple of sessions after discharge which really helped the transition home and prevent immediate relapse. I wish I had been able to continue with her support. Whilst we are talking about admissions there were some fantastic HCA’s who looked after me whilst in hospital, those who shared their stories of their own difficulties had the biggest impact. And there were the patients, every person had something to offer in their own way, a story to tell, a reason behind their difficulties. I’ve always struggled to fit into any communal environment, ‘terror’ being the default response. But two people, ‘E’ and ‘F’ took me under their wing and were brilliant company and further encouragement. In hospital I felt like I fitted in, which isn’t something I’ve felt in a long time. There’s also thanks to ‘R’ who was an old school acquaintance who’s company saved me from drowning in hospital which helped me to start drinking water again having stopped due to the shock of the admission.
I could continue on all night with people who have been there for me, I’m also conscious of those I’ve forgotten in my tired state, it’s not because you are any less important, I am just not very good at remembering everything. The above text essentially shows a family tree of support. At times I felt like I had nothing, but by everyone holding out a branch it has held me long enough to start to get better. I try to live my life based on trying to make things as nice for others as I possibly can and in response to this I think I have been very lucky. So for this Time to Talk day think of just one small thing which could make the difference to someone you know, they might not be obviously struggling, but we all need a boost at times no matter what is going on behind the closed doors of our mind.