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Mental Health Awareness Week

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I have wondered if I should share anything as I know people are going through some truly dreadful times right now but mental health is important. 

Firstly, this is NOT a pity post or as my dear mother calls it, PKS, Poor Kaitlyn Syndrome, yeah I know *rolls eyes*.  It is just a very honest account of my experiences of living with Mental Health issues. 

I have managed my anxiety and depression for many years now, some would say there are times when I haven’t managed it very well and I agree, but that’s what it’s like when your head is your own worst enemy! 

I take medication, I have a chemical imbalance and they help me.  That’s my method of survival.  They are not a cure but they help me function and get through what has been a couple of tricky years.  No amount of cashews or walks in the woods will give me the same help and I’ve tried many, many options including a lot of alternative methods. 

There are more things I could do to help myself.  I hope that I manage those things someday. 

Even though the last couple of years have been incredibly stressful on so many levels, I didn’t disappear down the hole.  Last year my depression was terrible, I had a huge amount of pressure on me, I got on the best I could and by the beginning of this year I had decided to make changes that I hoped would take me in a more positive direction. 

Then a global pandemic happens….wtf?! 

During the first few weeks of lockdown I felt like I was on a roundabout that was being spun too fast. My anxiety came to take the place of depression and I was suddenly experiencing the edge of panic attacks again.  

I wouldn’t wish panic attacks on anyone, unless you have had one you cannot understand how terrifying they are, how you seriously believe you are going to die and the more scared you get the worse it gets. 

I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend who now understands, it took him a while as it doesn’t seem rational to someone who has never experienced it.  Also I have some great friends who I can tell that I’m having a twat attack and they know not to feed it, just check I’m ok and talk banal crap till I have come down off the ceiling. 

I did a lot of sleeping through the initial weeks of lockdown.  It’s a great way of avoiding life, but then I realised that although this was a terrible situation, I was lucky enough to be able to use this time I suddenly had to try to alter my mindset and reflect on how I had been living.  People were doing far more amazing things on the front line, the least I could do was get out of bed and try. 

Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely no epiphany, no calling, just a sense of I have to do something to stop me wallowing because of a situation I have no control over. 

So, as I have already written about, I started creating spaces in our home which have had a positive effect on both Guy and I.  Still loving it btw.  I’ve been cooking for the first time in years, loved Bake Chat on my Facebook page yesterday. 

I started to reach out to friends a bit more, especially the ones I know are having a tougher time than others, contact is vital for me, even if it’s just a laugh over a stupid meme or swapping information on things that can help our situations.  It all helps. 

I found my creativity mojo again and love the fact that I have time to produce new designs and am incredibly grateful for all the positive responses on social media and online orders have been good, thank you. 

I still have the sense of impending doom most days, how long can I stay at home as I don’t feel safe in the outside world, especially now, will anyone I know catch it, is Guy’s job safe, will I ever have a business again, if I catch it, I will die *Magic Roundabout music*.  

I was talking to someone on the telephone the other day, he was conducting a survey about the funding I had received to attend Top Drawer and anxiety was mentioned and this gentleman and I had a discussion about panic attacks and his experiences and he said the way he coped was by watching videos online of cats.  Such a lovely man and perfectly open, which is how it should be. 

All I can do is work on my breathing and grounding.  Be there for people.  Enjoy the time that is a gift and stop the guilt (my worst enemy and people take advantage of it too).   

I have no idea what the future holds, obviously, I just know that I’m scared.  It’s a cliché but you really do have to take every day as it comes. 

I expect there are currently a lot of people experiencing mental health issues for the first time, or things kept supressed have surfaced.  Do not allow yourself to be bothered by the stigma, YOU are what is important and it will pass.  Do not let pride make you suffer in silence. 

I know a lot of Mental Health assistance will be under immense strain right now (always has been tbh) but do look to see what is available to you and use online tools and apps.  It is finding what works for you.  If you are in a very bad place, please, please, please talk to The Samaritans or your doctor.  

Remember this is just my experience and thoughts, I am not a healthcare professional or counsellor, just someone who is open to discussing their mental health in the hope that it helps end some of the stigma and allows others to see that it’s ok, once you accept it you can start to deal with it.  Don’t focus on the whys, focus on getting through it. 

And if you are lucky enough to not be experiencing such issues and know someone who is, be kind, be there if you can and do not judge, even if you don’t understand. 

Stay safe.


7 comments

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  • Thank you for your honest post which I enjoyed reading. However my heart sank to see the picture of pills and your early description of mental health problems being attributed to a chemical imbalance. A sign of the power of the pharmaceutical industry as they perpetuate the understanding of human distress in this way.
    If medication and your self-care hasn’t helped, ask your GP to refer you to psychological therapies and good luck. 💜

    Helen
  • As a long-time sufferer, I understand this so well. It’s the sucky-whirlpool-spiral of thoughts and feelings that are the worst. I have always loved your art, we own lots! It’s a bloody awful time right now, and the terror is debilitating, but with love and support, it will pass, one day at a time. Stay safe, keep posting the artwork and thank you xx

    Beccy Sartori
  • As lockdown continues I am getting more and more anxious, as it seems there is no safe way out of this. I am worrying about family members living on their own and am feeling personally responsible for keeping them mentally healthy, to the detriment to myself. I’ve felt physically unwell due to stress for 2 or 3 weeks now. I am also getting lazier and I don’t want to leave the house for very long ….probably because I just don’t want to get close to anyone and catch something. I only want to be places where nobody else is. The good side is I have been able to feed my creativity a lot more, and like you I have done a lot of baking. I am sending a virtual hug to you, thanks for sharing your feelings so that we can do the same xx

    Sue

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