Today is Time to Talk day in England. “24 hours in which to start conversations about mental health, raise awareness and share the message that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is talking about it.”
I’ve had mixed feelings about this. It’s good. It gets people talking about mental health. And openness is one of the best things we can ever due to challenge stigma and to increase the numbers of people who reach out and get help.
But at the same time it somehow doesn’t quite sit right with me. We shouldn’t need a day to talk about mental health. We should be talking about it as often as it is needed, and I for one sure do.
But I recognise that Time to Talk is ultimately a good thing.
But leaving that aside – here’s me talking. Not about mental health in general. But in me. My main challenge perhaps will be to keep it from just being a rant / moan, but if it is then so be it.
One of the things that pisses me off is how external appearances can be so fucking deceiving. I had a lovely friend to stay a couple of weeks ago. It felt like she never stopped telling me how amazing my life was. I had ‘a lovely flat in a lovely city and had a career I loved, and oh Amanda, your life is so amazing, it is so wonderful, it is just brilliant, I’m so happy for you, because you have this wonderful life, and it’s so amazing’.’
And now I’m starting to think ‘Oops, I gave her this blog link, and she may read that’, but hey it’s #TimeToTalk day. That friend is a lovely person, and this is not about her. It’s about how people see external things and judge what your life is like, and how much better or worse you do or don’t have it based on those external factors. When all I want to do is shout out ‘Do you have any fucking clue what it actually feels like in my head?’
Because mental health isn’t about the external things in a person’s life. It’s about how it feels in a person’s head.
And I feel ok and good but shit and happy but sad and tired and motivated and exhausted and worthless and confident and ambitious and shite and defeated and hopeful and hopeless and worthless and determined.
I can feel good feelings while feeling a million bad feelings too.
I can use my determination to achieve things with my life yet still feel as shit as I did when I was most unwell.
I can function well yet be falling apart inside.
Please don’t judge me by the external things I let you see and please don’t make assumptions about my life if you can’t feel what it feels like in my head.
We talk about mental health. Great. Talking about mental health has made so much difference in my life. Not just in terms of training people about mental health. But talking myself.
When I first started talking about my mental health problems what surprised me most of all was how it appeared to make people comfortable enough to disclose issues in return. Which seemed to let me – and them – know that I wasn’t alone .
And that’s a good thing.
On paper I’m doing better than I was a few years back. But in many, many ways I’m not. I want to get the right help to help me be as well as I can be. I recognise that I am the one who needs to do most of the work to get myself as well as I can be. But I still need help. And to be fucking honest the battle to get any actual helpful help right now feels bigger than the issues that I’m trying to deal with.
And if it’s time to talk I’ll be honest and say that while I still feels suicidal sometimes the one thing that has most often resulted in me having suicidal thoughts is the difficulties of trying to get any actually helpful professional help. The poor communication from them. The lack of care. The frustrations. The nothingness.
And it’s dealing with that shit that makes me most often think ‘this is too fucking hard’. And then I tell myself ‘well, who needs them anyway. I can keep myself well’.
But it’s not about keeping myself well. It’s about me trying to be all I can be, and needing help with it. An actually good psychiatrist who I had last year, (who turned out to be a locum) got it right when he said ‘yes, you’re doing better than you used to be, but there’s still so much that is stopping you reach your full potential’.
So when I have the thoughts that the fact that it seems impossible to get any actually helpful professional help is just way too fucking hard, and they just make me worse, well when the thoughts of ‘I can do it without them’ start… I think, yes, I can live a good life… but there’s things in life I want… a family of my own being just one example… that I feel I have a long way to go before I get to that point… I have a lot of work to do… and I can’t do it on my own… but I can’t seem to get any help… and while I enjoy my career and the things in life I love… I want to have the life that I should have… I want to be ok… and I need help… but I can’t get it.
And it’s not just about needing help to be all I can be – life is so fucking hard – a million times harder than I could actually describe. I am better than I was when I was more unwell, but that’s mostly down to me. But in my mind it feels almost as hard as ever. I just want things to be easier. I just want a little support.
I feel lucky that I can go into professional mode and do a pretty fucking amazing job and can still achieve great things in my career. If I didn’t have that I honestly don’t even know where I’d be right now.
I am taking control of my mental health. I have things I’m going to do. But I’m still managing a serious mental illness that I have plenty of symptoms of, and it’s fucking hard, and feeling like I’m doing it all on my own without professional support makes it so much worse. Oh they say that I can ring up and talk to a stranger if I’m really struggling. Well, talking to a stranger generally is something which is unhelpful for me… never mind the fact that there’s no support unless I get to the point where I am practically critically unwell. Fuck that.
And I’m pissed off by how hard everything is. How much I’m trying and I know I’m getting somewhere very, very slowly… but I’m pissed off by how hard the seemingly smallest things still feel, and fuck it, by a few dozen other symptoms too, but I don’t need to go into all the symptoms.
What I want to know is when do things stop being so fucking hard… and how?
Oh and another thing what I fucking hate is when I try to get help when I need it, and I’m practically told ‘there’s people who are much more unwell’. Ok thanks for telling me that, good to know.
And they’ve no fucking idea how much effort i put in to managing my mental wellbeing. Well, the result is that I end up with no helpful help. Yeah, great.
But it’s not just about professional help. Or lack of it .
It’s about me. Nothing else but me. And I so wish that it wasn’t still all so hard.
Not proofreading this. So if it’s a mess, please don’t judge me as being a bad writer. I’m just offloading and putting it out there, don’t really want to read anything back.