World Mental Health Day | My Experience

Saturday the 10th of October was World Mental Health Day. For me it was just another Day. I really wanted to get in on the action and share a post. I really wasn’t able though yesterday, i just wasn’t. The irony of suffering with your mental health on Mental Health Day.  But that is just it, there is no control, no knowing, it can hit at any time. The importance of this day is to raise awareness and try and lift the stigma that surrounds mental health. It’s 2015, the year where Marriage Equality was achieved in Ireland. The year where disabled models made history on catwalks. Yet this stigma still stands strong. It is estimated that one in four or five of us will experience some mental health problems at some time or another. Anxiety and depression are rife within our generation with more and more young people taking their lives daily. We look after our physical health but not our minds enough. We need to address this issue.

 

We read tabloids and magazines were celebrities are checking into facilities. Our shelves and screens are full of photographs of said celebs in times of distress. It’s what sells papers they say. Their issues are played out for the public to see. This is a daily occurrence. We are aware of these kind of issues, yet when it’s closer to home we struggle. Struggle to understand it fully and struggle ourselves with overcoming these feelings. Has the media desensitised us to this, by normailising the culture of celebrity?


 ‘Ah you will be grand’ 
 
‘Cop on would ya’

‘You’re just tired’
 
‘Snap out of it’

 

 How much pain hides behind a smile? Typically the image we get of someone who suffers with their mental health, is that they are crazy people. The portrayal on TV and movies show the extreme. Stress is at an all time high, people are working more hours than ever. Money worries, personal relationships, the loss of a loved one, health problems. They can all pile up. The mind is a very powerful thing. Many go about their day to day life without so much as a sign. Some use humour to mask their feelings. That’s me. 

 

I’ve always been someone who joked around. When i first felt something within myself the jokes and laughs had to keep coming. To prove to myself? To hide whatever this was from others? Who knows. The body and mind have copping mechanisms that just kick in. It’s only when you look back that you really see this. I know that nobody thinks it will ever be them but really i could have bet my life i would never have been the ‘type’. I have the most vivid memories of feeling like this throughout my life. I remember sitting in a salon filling out a client form. They asked had i ever suffered from Depression, Anxiety or any other mental health complaints. I thought to myself ‘noooooo, oh my god now as if! Who has depression like.’ I actually didn’t know at that stage what anxiety was. Maybe it heard this thought and said lets introduce our self to Kiera. I remember this so well, the feeling was so strong that depression was not something that would ever effect me. like it was a whole other foreign world that i would never even be near. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 

 

 



 For the last few years i have personally suffered with depression and regular anxiety. This started with normal worry and eventually escalated to panic attacks and uncontrollable emotions. Although a lot of you do not know me personally, i will ask do i seem the type of person who would be crippled with anxiety and life consuming depression? Maybe that is my point. What is the type? I am, or at least i think i am, a happy, outgoing person. The one who listened to others problems. The one who worked hard and lived a really fun, active life. Enter the emotional wreck. I suppose for the longest time i didn’t actually know i had this problem. My experience with these diseases actually came out of disease.This isn’t something i thought i would be sharing here, but i get you do need some background to fully understand my ramblings. I have a chronic pain condition and have not been in the best of health for several years now. Depression and Anxiety are rife with sufferers of my condition, symptom wise. For me i think it was feeling sad and angry for the loss of my ‘old life’, my youth, my health. I became an inflated shell of my former self. Spending long periods alone and bed ridden was enough to tip me into into that box. I felt everything got on top of me and i sank lower and lower. I wasn’t copping with the slightest problem let alone the huge obstacles i was facing. The phone ringing terrified me. The anxiety i had of getting through the day or what will tomorrow bring was crippling me mentally while the pain took care of that physically. 

 

“I’m not where i need to be, 
but i’m not where i was”
– Me 2015

 



My mind became a mush of thoughts. Nothing i could make sense of. The feeling is hard to describe but i wanted to head butt a wall. Food tasted like nothing. Nothing was funny. I didn’t want to stand up but i didn’t want to sit down. I had no hope, no motivation, no want or desire. Crying was now my thing. Tears became a daily feature on my face. Even if i didn’t want to, this water streamed down my face, stinging my skin. The taps were open and i couldn’t turn them off. I hated everything and everyone. The anxiety had me caring to much about everything while the depression made me care about nothing. Anger filled up in me. Things people said consumed me and left me in ball on the floor. I was alone and hated myself. That wasn’t going to work. The more depressed i got, the more pain i felt, the more pain i felt, the more depressed i got. Mental health directly affects the body and i felt it. Being awake for days upon end, just me and my thoughts. Something had to change. This wasn’t me and wasn’t what i wanted for myself. It does take huge strength to even admit how you feel but it opens doors for you. Doors to the help you need and to the rest of your life. It was in the end a breakdown that lead to me starting to get help. My parents dragged me to my doctors office and i sat in front of the three of them. There i was. Me. Depressed. I, Kiera, had depression. 

 

I have a VERY supportive family who started to understand. With medication, Psychiatry and CBT i started to feel more like myself again. The me i knew. She had never really gone but was just hidden away behind all the pain and darkness. I have learnt a lot about myself and more importantly others. I surrounded myself with supportive people who lift me up and encourage me to do and be all i want. There is no shame in taking medication that can help you. There is also no shame in admitting you needed help or weren’t feeling great. I still have my days and at times it can be very hard. But i try remember, i may not be where i need to be but i am not where i was.

 

There are some things that you yourself can do at home to try ease and help with daily struggles. You know yourself best and what makes you feel good. Having a nice bath with candles and music to relax helps some. Likewise with a pamper night using all your favourite lotions and potions. I’m a firm believer in new fluffy pj’s and rubbish brilliant TV. Obviously snacks will be involved in this. Some like to exercise or clean to work out their thoughts and stresses. It is finding what suits and helps you. A hobby or project to keep your mind busy, interested and occupied. A positive outlet. When you don’t not feel right in yourself, the little things in life become the big things. 
Mindfulness is a common practice with those who suffer. It has been introduced for the most part into Cognitive behavioral Therapy. Meditation and relaxation are hard to master but can help from time to time. The hard part is being able to switch off, block out thoughts and just be for those few minutes. Get your head around this and these methods could work really well for you. There is a post on the blog about mindful colouring, that might be of interest. Adult colouring books are popping up everywhere. They have gained serious popularity which shows Mindfulness is being practiced.


 



As the world goes, Yes Ireland is lucky to have the Health care we have. If we lift the lid and look closely though, are we really? Just because we have hospitals and doctors, this does not mean we are are equipped or managing the numbers and issues faced. There is help out there. Reach out they say. Some lives are saved and changed by services every year and i cannot praise these enough. The work that is done by organisations and charities is phenomenal. More can be done though. Telling someone who feels there is no way out, to wait for help on a list for X months, is like signing their death certificate. Sinister but true i feel. These problems and conditions need to be seen to early. More support and services are needed, Not only to those who suffer, but for their loved ones too. This is a huge thing to have the support of your doctor and those around you. Many who suffer with ill mental health often feel alone. Without the understanding of those most important, this can be worsened tenfold. Together we can educate and change statistics.

 

All it takes is a little awareness and understanding. The lady beside you on the bus, the office joker, your nearest and dearest. Anybody can suffer. Mental Health does not discriminate against who it attacks. As the saying goes, it is those who you don’t expect to suffer, often suffer the most. I bet not one of you weren’t shocked at Robin Williams death. Some older generations do not believe there is any such thing. I feel all that sufferers want is a little respect. Mental Health can take away ones dignity and be really demoralising. Respect that what the person is feeling is real and they don’t want to feel like that. Openness, support and education on the subject can help a lot. All i ask is to maybe be more aware of those around you who may be showing signs. Be aware of your own mental health and do not be afraid to ask for help. Set small attainable goals. I have been there and i know the struggle, but you can do this. You are worth more. Surround yourself with positivity and just do you. There is nothing wrong with needing some help. It is okay not to be okay.

 





Here are a list of some services and organisations:

www.aware.ie
www.mentalhealthireland.ie/
walkinmyshoes.ie
www.pieta.ie
www.samaritans.org

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2 Comments

  1. 12 October, 2015 / 6:27 pm

    I tried to touch on that because it has come part of daily life. We are okay with watching that play out but when its 'real life' that is a different story. Thank you so much for your kind words xx

  2. 12 October, 2015 / 2:46 pm

    One thing I'll always remember as I deal with my own mental health Kiera, is when Sinead O'Connor opened up about her mental health difficulties many years ago when I was a young teenager and the tabloids decided her mental health could be used as a target. She was portrayed as crazy and in need of help, and that portrayal has always stuck with me – even long before I was aware of my own mental health.
    I think anyone who opens up about mental health is brave – because it's so personal and such an intimate part of your story that you share. I think the media has come a long way from that depiction of mental health in Ireland (sadly the treatment of Amanda Bynes in the press shows it's not the same overseas).
    You've come so far, and maybe where you are now is where you're meant to be right now xx

    Zoe | http://www.ibelieveinromeo.com

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