Monday, 13 May 2019

24 Acts of Kindness I've Been Shown Since Opening Up About My Mental Health

Opening up about my mental health hasn't always been easy. I think anyone who has ever experienced even an inkling of a panic attack, a bout of anxiety or an unexpected depressive day has experienced a wide range of emotions about it, no matter how long or short, serious or nothing to worry about the state may have seemed. My emotions range massively - something cognitive behavioural therapy & counselling has taught me is that I feel a lot. A lot more than I thought also - I think I'd resigned myself to 'always being a bit anxious' and had normalised my mental health in an unhealthy way by leaving it untreated. For years I've bottled up, coped and got by. I've experienced to date depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, panic attacks both in my sleep and consciously, low self esteem and elements of OCD, both on their own and combined. Over the past six months, I've been more honest with myself & the people around me, and allowed myself to feel more than I have in a very long time. I've also opened up more on social media, on this blog and IRL. I thought by opening up it would make me look weak. My initial thoughts were by putting yourself out there, you are vulnerable to the world. What if people aren't accepting? What if by doing this, it makes me feel worse? 

The result wasn't any of the above and there are two reasons I'm writing this post.

First, for myself as a reminder of all of the good that has come from being open, honest and letting people help me. When I think about my life a year ago compared to now, even though through dark times I may convince myself it's all gone wrong and this isn't how it was meant to be, by not experiencing what I'm going through, I wouldn't have received all of this goodness. People wouldn't reach out, or just say I'm there... and would I trade that back for the 'normality' of my life from a year ago - no.

Secondly, this post is for you, whoever you may be reading this. I've found so much comfort in other people sharing their stories and being open and honest. I've found so much comfort from simply saying "I have a problem" - whether it's a fertility problem, mental health or just in general an issue that I can't quite solve on my own - the help, courage and strength I've received from other people picking me back up and saying "You can do this" or "You are better than that" has been vital for me. Mental health and fertility both together and singular still carry stigma and it is completely unfair. There are people that just don't get it. 

If you, like me are worried about opening up, I wanted to share an insight into the things you open yourself up to when you do. I'm not going to name names in this one other than family, but if you are someone who knows me, you may well spot yourself in this list & I'd love to say a massive thank you again for all of your love & support - the past six months have been challenging to say the least and there was definitely no getting to a point of acceptance on my own and I feel very lucky & grateful to have the wonderful support system. Obviously my list of sunshine emoji positives will not be identical to yours - I hope yours outshines mine and continues beyond the list you may write yourself! 

☀️ being open and honest with my family & them 100% having my back. 
☀️ when in February, I had a major problem, I contacted a friend who quite literally gave me so much advice, support & guidance about a situation, but also mentally picked me up and gave my strength & fight back. I was very much in a place where I was ready to give up and thought I had no other options. This friend completely turned that around for me. 
☀️ regular phone calls with my Mum. 
☀️ regular texts from my Sister just checking in. 
☀️ also my Mum & Dad got me a really lovely card when things hit rock bottom first time around, which had the most thoughtful words on it. 
☀️ days where Brad has taken me out or done something to distract from all the rubbish going on. 
☀️ a message from an old school friend, who reached out after a few years of not speaking, to tell me to not be scared and tell me her story too. This one really meant a lot, because it doesn't matter how long you go without speaking to someone, friendships withstand that and are there when you need them most. 
☀️ being cooked favourite meals by my family, especially when anxiety meant I'd completely lost my appetite...  
☀️ ... & the endless cups of tea on offer too! 
☀️ the pets rallying around me - Cece barely leaves my side if I'm down or upset, and when I was crying Nala would often come right up to my face so I could cuddle her. 
☀️ my GP giving me all the time I need in appointments, listening to all of my worries and always offering kind words along with a treatment plan that works for me.
☀️ dog walks with a friend to get me out of the house where I don't feel comfortable leaving the house on my own where I live at the moment. 
☀️ on a day where I'd posted some quotes on my stories that had really resonated with me, one of my friends was straight on the phone checking in on me, even though I know for a fact she was busy with work and just back off of a holiday, yet she made checking in on me a priority and offered words of advice and was just there. 
☀️ in the same way, another friend who messaged and arranged to go out with me for dinner that same week, then invited another friend and we ended up having an absolutely cracking night - I ate a whole plate of nachos that were a main course and covered in fajitas which was lush and we had such a laugh. On that day, I'd actually spent the morning distraught and crying; going out & socialising was the difference which made my scores in my CBT session that week lower. 
☀️ a family member telling my Nan they hoped I was okay, and that they missed my usual postings over on Instagram of everywhere I go out which was nice in the sense that I'd never considered my Instagram was a way family members were checking out where I'd been and how I was, and it inspired me to get back into Instagram again.
☀️ when I had a mental health crisis team visit me at my home, their views and advice on situations were valuable. At one point, one of the carers actually said, as he was leaving my house, that he knew exactly how I felt due to the situation I was in and beforehand had been giving me practical, straight up advice about what to watch out for with my issues combined with my mental health problem which is refreshing when others are honest about mental health and actually acknowledge the stigma is still real! 
☀️ being given space when it was needed. From multiple appointments, many tears and a repeated feeling of being worthless, sometimes I needed to just be away from things, and in those moments. 
☀️ bumping into people I know in the street & them expressing their concern & hope for me to get better soon. 
☀️ text messages from friends, who tell me to put myself first & that everything else can wait. By checking in and reminding me my health is the most important. 
☀️ the TTC community and all the messages & comments of love and support.  What I love about this one, is that the TTC community can feel so daunting to take one step into. The odd comment can turn into lovely friendships and daily support is always there. One of the best things to come out of this, is that I'd been messaging one lovely Instagrammer who had an upcoming appointment and was feeling a bit down, and this lovely lady actually messaged me a full on message a couple of days later, updating me on how she was getting on and how much more positive she felt, and it was so nice to be able to talk so freely and openly without any judgement. 
☀️ one of the only WhatsApp groups I'm a part of  (because I do quite actively not get on with WhatsApp a lot of the time) sending a 'how's everyone?' message and having a little catch up with the nicest group of girls, who we never see each other half as much as we should! 
☀️ all the advice lines that have provided help when it's been needed. 

☀️ endless chats with members of my family, putting my mind at rest in multiple areas. 
☀️ & in general just all of the love being projected my way, which has been a major help on the road to recovery. 
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