TW: Abuse, mental health, therapy
So I’ve been really busy and felt like I’ve had a lot going on but at the same time have no idea what I’ve been doing…? When the weeks start rolling into one and I lose sleep, I notice how easy it is to stop taking care of myself properly. I then found I’ve ‘switched’ suddenly…when I feel low, I tend to get stuck in a tunnel vision one dimensional view of life and how I’m feeling which can be incredibly difficult to manage.
This for me is part of being in ‘recovery’ as I can notice it and sometimes noticing it doesn’t always feel like it’s enough but it’s far better than ignoring it.
I wanted to do a post on treatments as I haven’t spoken much on that part of mental health. I think it’s too easy to look for quick fixes, so it’s really important to highlight that I genuinely don’t believe there is.
It is a tiring journey, riddled with uncertainty instability and so often you feel like giving up. Then out comes some slither of something (I don’t like saying ‘strength’) that pushes you to fight a little bit more. You do all the things you’re ‘supposed’ to do – go for a walk, shower, eat, write things you’re grateful for, speak with friends, then the you go full circle again…sometimes I get mad at myself because ‘I have a good life now’ and you tell yourself its selfish because there’s ‘others so much worse of than me’. This is my attempt at invalidating my experiences so I can ignore it and avoid confronting it…..beware of this sticky trap.
What took me a long time to notice is that over time, that low bit and the giving up bit, becomes a bit smaller every time it happens and the circle to get back to it, gets a bit bigger…although for now it still comes around, it’s much less frequent. Reflection is a powerful tool…use it as much as you can. When I see some of the progress I made I’m like yeahhhh I did that! I’m THAT person. LOOK AT THE GROWWTHHHH. (but yes no seriously, every movement you make in your recovery should be congratulated)
Whilst will all have different life experiences, varying levels of trauma (which is always relative in my opinion) and there is no one-glove-fits-all-get-out-of-jail-free-card for mental health, I also think there is great power in recognising a bit of what might be happening for you, in some body else…
I’ve been in out of mental health support since I was maybeee 14 id say. My own personal ‘build up to this’ was the abusive home I grew/was growing up in. The stereotypical ‘broken home’ pretty much summed up my childhood (whilst I recognise how problematic that statement might sound, for my experience it fits and can hold until I go into more detail in another blog post).
As an adult looking back, I went through some pretty horrific things which although no child should ever have to suffer with..many of us do, heartbreakingly many more go on to suffer the consequences in adulthood…, substance misuse..homelessness..physical health conditions.. (Please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk as an intro and I’ll do some more on this for anyone that’s interested!).
I’ll be honest, for a really long time I never felt I would ever find real peace or happiness *cue scene of looking out of a raining window listening to sad song of your choosing*.
Ultimately this caused massive trauma, this trauma has been ‘resolved’ by counselling and an exhausting full on confrontation of these situations..(Like the bull to the flag? Is that the saying?).
I used to be really ashamed of therapy or needing support from trained professionals..
‘I know how to handle it’
‘What do they even know lol’
‘There’s no way i’m telling them any of that’
I had bad experiences with therapists that weren’t suited to me, which made me wary..looking back and a weird analogy that pops to mind would kind of be like when you go to an all you can eat buffet and there’s loads of different food and some you try and you’re like wow that was hideous but then you find something you do like and suddenly you’re on your fourth (eighth) helping…Once you find the treatment that works for you, you’ll go back for more..but you have to also try all the other ugly stuff along with it.
Its important to say that my experience of health services is as a white woman..and race plays a huge part in the access to treatment. We have a discriminatory health care system that’s still institutionally racist, many non-white people continue to go misdiagnosed and suffer maltreatment. So whilst I write this I am aware I suggest that you just have to ‘try all the options’ and how much my white privilege allows me to say that so flipinently.
To anyone that is considering the option of counselling;
- Patience is your best friend.
- It’s going to get much worse..but this is temporary.
- It may help to keep your schedule clear after your sessions (where possible).
- You can control the pace.
- It’s ok to take a break
In addition to this…I’ve always been on numerous types of medication. I don’t want to name them all as I don’t want to put anyone of taking them…there is absolutely NOTHING to feel embarrassed about for using medication. I feel like we are constantly led to believe that you should just be able to go for a run and cure your mental illness. There is a chemical imbalance in your brain. Whilst non-medical mechanisms work for some, this is never and shouldn’t be the case for everyone (back to the one glove fits all).
I’m not on medication at the moment and haven’t been for a couple of years, for me they didn’t fit my needs, I probably never ‘stuck it out’ for long enough but I also had such terrible ways of coping that all I did was counteract anything I was putting in my body to help me.
I have been diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety and although not formally diagnosed (I disengaged before my assessment) complex post traumatic stress disorder or CPTSD. At the time I worried that having this would somehow make me worse… For some, a diagnosis can be a relief. Finally there is an ‘answer’ for. A step to fix and cure and in some forms, comfort. For me, I was so concerned with it becoming my narrative that is what it ultimately became. I was obsessed with researching and exploring what this meant, fitting every behaviour or action across my life into ‘that’s obviously because of the CPTSD’. I felt burdened by the idea of it..deflated. The irony is that sometimes the diagnosis can exacerbate whatever your health needs are.
On the point of disengagement from services, I must have gone to and from in and out up and down at least 15 times. When you’re ready you’re ready. Even when you feel like your fighting against it, you’re not. Or, you may just be at the stage of complete loss and exhaustion where you feel like this is the only solution left.
Much of my mental health was caused by unresolved trauma, repressed pain and anguish that needed to manifest anywhere it could. I’ll say it again, trauma is completely relative, its not comparable and it is not measurable. We also experience trauma vicariously, (feeling the trauma of others) you may not have experienced any trauma whatsoever…either way, you have to start to take the steps you need so you can explore what treatment is going to be best for you.
‘Trauma creates change you don’t choose, healing is about creating change you do choose’
You may also find it helpful to have a read through the MIND guide to drugs and treatment. There are many I haven’t spoken about and there might be something you want more information on and possibly look to try – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/
If you have any questions or would like to know anything in a bit more detail, you can comment or email me..
- You are valuable and you have meaning
- Reward yourself…often! If you’re telling yourself it was small and isn’t worth it..it mostly probably is