Some blog posts come naturally, they flow and I could write them in twenty minutes at the most. For some reason this one is tough, I just don’t know where to begin. My natural tendency is to write about topics from a light-hearted stance. However there is little humour to be found in the subject of mental health.
Even to say the words. I have mental health issues. They get a little stuck in my throat somehow.
I am not ashamed.
I’m an open person, I wear my heart on my sleeve, but somehow that sentence doesn’t fit me? There are a number of reasons for that.
I don’t really fit the stereotype. The perception is that I’m outgoing, confident and full of the joys of life. Well there was a period in my life that none of those words could have been used to describe me. I can’t remember the first time I felt depressed. It started with bouts of crying. I’m a girl sure that’s just hormones. I was either premenstrual, menstrual or post menstrual. But that was the point. There was no end to it. I felt sad all the time. After a specifically bad period of two weeks of non stop crying, I went to the doctor. Within ten minutes I had been prescribed antidepressants. I couldn’t believe it. I took them for a while, but very naively once I began to feel better I stopped. It wasn’t so much feeling better as it was numbness. I didn’t like it.
During this time I had gotten engaged and fell pregnant and we were thrilled. But my sadness was amplified by the pregnancy.
I had no joy.
I was suffering, I felt like my baby was suffering and my relationship most certainly was.
More visits to doctors and all I was ever told was to get some exercise, eat better and call back in two weeks. I asked for counselling or therapy and I was just told well those services aren’t as common as we’d like. Myself and my partner fought for help and it just didn’t seem to be forthcoming. I was given tablets to mask the pain, but no one was interested in finding out why I was having these feelings.
My lowest point was at 38 weeks pregnant with my second child. I just didn’t want to go on. I wanted to close my eyes and never wake up. I was referred to the department of psychiatry and at midnight after sitting for 5 hours I was assessed. During this assessment the doctor advised that myself and my partner go home and make love and that would make me feel better! He spoke to my partner in details on the methods he could use to get me in the mood. Suggested that he runs a bath and bathe me and …. well…. I wish I could say I was joking.
I sat in shock at what had just happened. No one was hearing me.
We begged for help and no help came. I left that hospital that night with the realization that if I was to beat this it would be on my own. Not one person followed up with me to see if I was ok. Not even so much as a phone call to see if my life or the life of an unborn child was safe.
There are lots of stories in the press of high-profile people with mental health issues who live full lives and it’s wonderfully inspiring. It gives people hope. I don’t know the ins and outs of people’s lives, but my opinion is that these are strong people who wanted to get better and who helped themselves. They may have had the financial means to access the services that my doctor told me aren’t as common as they would like!
My worry is that person who is not strong enough to fight for themselves. Who helps them?
When you are at your lowest you can’t fight! You just don’t have the strength.
One of the aspects of depression that people don’t realize is the very physical toll it takes on your body. You just can’t will yourself to do the activities of daily living. Getting into the shower was akin to climbing Everest for me and we all know there’s not many that get to the top. I really just wanted someone to tell me what was wrong with me because in my mind you couldn’t fix a problem until you knew what it was. Life continued on as it does and my third pregnancy hammered the final nail into the death of my relationship. I told my partner that we wouldn’t survive another pregnancy and we didn’t. Back at home with my Mammy and again the overwhelming sadness consumed me and until that baby was born I was a shadow of myself. My boys called my sister Mammy for a while.
As the baby got older I started to feel better. I attended counselling and surrounded myself with positive people who all had my best interests at heart. It was a slow process, but I am almost back to the person I remember before darkness overwhelmed me. I sit with tears in my eyes in my beautiful home with my darling children and I am truly grateful for my life. I have huge regrets over what I put other people through, but I don’t blame myself.
I blame a flawed system that talks the talk but does not walk the walk.
Voluntary organisations do a great job don’t get me wrong, but when you are low you can’t function never mind say decide to walk into a room to people you don’t know and ask for help at an allotted time.
I still have my wobbly days, but I fight hard. I fight because I don’t want to feel like that ever again. I don’t want my children to see me like that and I don’t want to lose any more of my life to that word that is used so much now it’s lost all meaning. I’m one of the lucky ones, huge support systems and an inner fight that took a while to surface but got there in the end. I’m surrounded by people I feel I can be myself with. I got rid of all the dead wood and those who are just there to poke holes in your boat and not help you row it and what a difference it has made. That’s my story, but what about those who don’t have all those things? Tonight the sadness I feel is for them. I just hope they get help before it’s too late.
Ellen is a mother of three whose love of make up prompted her to start blogging. When the children’s toys overtook the make up brushes her writing naturally progressed to parenting. She is not afraid to talk about difficult subjects often drawing from her own life experience. Through her honest and real approach to her pieces Ellen hopes that she makes people smile, laugh and sometimes think.
Check out more from Ellen at her blog, BlushBellyandBabies
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