As it's World Mental Health Day, I thought once again now would be a good time to write frankly about my experience with mental illness.
Last year, I finally opened up about my experience with depression and anxiety. I hadn't quite appreciated how significantly writing that post has changed my life until I revisited it today. Since then, I have been almost as open about my mental illness as I would be with any physical illness. In day to day life and on social media. I no longer carry the burden or the shame that I carried for years, and having that lifted, makes the illness much easier to deal with.
Not to mention the response from that post; messages of congratulations, thanks, people asking if they could talk, saying it helped them, saying they didn't feel so alone anymore, saying it prompted them to look for help themselves. I've gained friendships through this, how beautiful is that? Please don't think that I think I'm a saint now or anything. I just couldn't have asked for a more positive response. The post was mainly for me, but to feel that it's helped anyone else in any way means too much to even say.
I'm so glad I wrote it, but that isn't too say that I still feel how I felt a year ago. Or that I'm in some way cured; very much the opposite. Rereading it made me realise how much my perspective on the whole thing has changed in a year. Last October, I was writing as someone who had never felt as bad again as she had six years ago. Come January of this year, a relapse meant I was at the very depths of depression and I had to remember what that all felt like again. It's different when it's fresh.
It manifested itself in different ways this time, anxiety started to overtake depression and that has brought on a whole different way of coping. I wrote a post in July about my newest coping strategies. I'm still struggling along with all of that. Deactivating then reactivating facebook once a week like it's going out of fashion. (My opinions on social media are still true, but I'm coping better with it all now/ too nosey to stay away completely. Predictable eh?)
I think this year would make the top three for the worst of my life mentally. I can't pretend like everything is going swimmingly at the moment. Some days are good and some are not. The difference is in being able to talk openly and honestly about it with people. Knowing I'm not alone, that there are people out there going through exactly the same thing and who need a listening ear just as much as I do. That's what helps most.
I think what's changed since last year is that I've truly learned to accept that some people are just chemically susceptible to this and that that isn't anyone's fault. I feel that the way I commented on medication last year was a bit negative; My perspective is very different now. I have seen benefits from medication that I didn't have experience of last year, and I'm trying a different type myself now. I know that I can only do the things that have kept me well in the past and know that if I've come through it before, I can again.
Please remember that mental illness is very common. If you're going through a period of mental illness yourself, you're not abnormal or broken, you are just you, and that is all you can be expected to be. You are not alone. (As a mental health nursing student, you have to trust me on that one.) There is always someone you can talk to, myself included. I am not an expert, but I have ears and empathy.
Thank you for reading as always.