Why on Earth Can’t I Be Normal Like Everyone Else?
In all probability unless you’ve ever experienced scarily extreme mood swings, crippling anxieties, paranoia & obsessive behaviours to name just a few or had to factor in fear, isolation, shame & guilt as part of your daily routine as you struggle to avoid (in your mind at least) being stigmatised because you feel as though you’re losing what’s left of your mind. Are subject to taking a nuclear strength cocktail of prescribed drugs just to make you feel well enough to get through the day?
You will rarely have come close to understanding what constantly trying to appear normal is like.
Welcome To The Loneliest of Roads – Mental Ill Health!
If like I was, you’re a sufferer it probably took ages before you admitted there was an issue and if anyone asked ‘what’s wrong’ ? The answer would be along the lines of ‘Me? I’m fine, nothing that a week in the sun won’t fix’!
Far too many who suffer with mental health issues struggle to keep up the facade of pretending to be fine when the polar opposite is true partly because we don’t want those we care for to worry but largely because we don’t want to be seen as weak or lacking in some way, let alone run the, albeit well meant gauntlet of repeatedly being told to ‘pull yourself together’.
At best it’s frustrating to hear, at worst it reinforces the shame that we seem unable to do just that!
Mental ill health covers an immense variety of disorders ranging from clinical depression, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Paranoia, OCD to name just a few.
However for many sufferers their Mental Ill Health journey starts following a significant emotional pain point, for instance a bereavement, losing a job or the breakdown of a relationship and where there is understandably a low mood, perhaps feeling miserable or ,unable to snap out of it type scenarios, the sort commonly thought of as situational or reactive depression.
Whatever the diagnosis you should know that each one though different often presents the same when it comes to feeling isolated, ashamed or stigmatised etc and unless others have firsthand experience of how it feels then in all honesty they will often struggle to understand
Eventually something gives and we realise that this, whatever this is, is much more than just being fed up or a bit miserable and the decision’s made to get help
Take Two Twice Daily – A Cautionary Tale!
What follows is a snapshot of my own journey as a result of mental ill health and one which is intended simply to help you understand that wherever you are on your own personal mental health journey then I truly do empathise and understand how you feel but moreover that you know that you don’t have to walk this road alone
It was the summer of 1978 and I had not long turned 18 when I first asked for ‘help’. It was just after the break-up of my parents marriage and having been miserable for as long as I could recall I plucked up courage and went to see my doctor under my own steam for the very first time. I was confused, nervous and very scared because I’d convinced myself I would be deemed insane. In reality the doctor wasn’t the least bit interested in why I was so miserable but was quick to write a prescription for ‘something to pick you up’.
Before I knew it I was clutching my first bottle of Valium labelled ‘take two twice daily’!
I honestly believe that visit alone was solely responsible for what became my historical mistrust of both medication and the medical profession in general when it came to my psychiatric issues.
Caught between a rock and a hard place
In 1978 Valium (known today as Diazepam) was at the height of it’s popularity. That year in America alone 2 BILLION tablets were prescribed and today the World Health Organization list it on the Essential Medicines List such is its popularity because of it’s versatility
At the time the fact that it had highly addictive properties wasn’t even considered!
But in 1978 as a desperate and trusting 18 year old I fared poorly as a result. As it turned out I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t because it did exactly what I’d been told and indeed I picked up surprisingly quickly but my problems began in earnest when I was told I was better and the pills were no longer needed!
The withdrawal symptoms were horrific to say the least and for a teenager who already thought she was going mad the effect on my psyche was such that it set me back 10 years in my battle to be healthy and in any event sparked a rebellion against medication which was to last to this day
The previous 30+ years have seen me endure a roller coaster of stop/start treatments. I would become ill, try to work through it, ask for help, take the meds, feel better, stop taking them (against advice), stay well for a while and…….REPEAT!!
Einstein said – ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result’
He Was Correct!
During my adult life it’s taken 4 complete breakdowns, descent into alcoholism and almost dying before I even considered that both prescription meds and the decision to begin self-medicating were in actual fact no more than sticking plasters to sooth the symptoms of the underlying and up to that point, unaddressed cause
In reality Mental Ill health issues manifest themselves as a direct result of triggers: attachment issues, neglect, abuse, poor self image, in other words the circumstances which cause us to define ourselves by our assigned labels and thus become what we think we are
We aren’t the condition, the condition is part of us!
And as such, in part the solution lies in identifying the root cause and having done so, adopt a whole person centred care approach with the aim of allowing us to live happy, positive and balanced lives by addressing the five separate yet interdependent parts of ourselves, those being our; physical, social, spiritual, emotional and mental health needs
One which if you will, would have us recognize that in order for us to thrive as opposed to just survive we have to reprogram the way we think, not only about our selves but the lives we are living
The bigger picture on the road to recovery
When we look at the bigger picture we start to understand that there are other options when it comes to enhancing both our clinical treatment and the day to day management of our individual situation.
Doubtless, medication for many is a key player but historically it has all too often been seen by patients and medics alike as not only the right but only treatment option. We lost sight of the fact that Mental Ill Health isn’t a one size fits all scenario and something which works well for one may well be detrimental to you the next sufferer.
We need to be open to the fact that different doesn’t mean bad
Much can be done to aid recovery from the affliction of Mental Health conditions but for these to work we have to be willing to take personal responsibility to find out what they are. There are no rules when it comes to exploring complimentary, healthy, self help options to aid, indeed underpin our clinical interventions but if or when you do decide to try something new please make sure that you choose it because you want to and moreover feel comfortable in doing so.
Whatever it is? If it makes you feel better on any level then it’s right for you!
Incidentally when we try anything which serves to decrease our senses of isolation, shame, guilt etc that are the constant bedfellows of Mental Health issues we come a long way towards increasing our senses of self-esteem, self-worth and as such our confidence levels start to soar.
It doesn’t matter what it is….Yoga or Meditation, reading self help articles or taking classes, taking up a hobby or joining a gym or absolutely anything else in between the IMPORTANT thing is in deciding to be proactive in our own care plan we better enable ourselves to take a brave but moreover very necessary step over the boundary between being being trapped in ”The Loneliest Place on Earth” and returning to or even becoming a fully functioning member of society!
The journey along the road that is Mental Ill Health can be long and difficult but NEVER FORGET you don’t have to walk it alone
ASKING FOR HELP IS BRAVE – DO SOMETHING AMAZING – BE BRAVE TODAY
Today Sue Curr is a Speaker & Empowerment Coach who enables others in business & in life to reprogram the way they think and view life firmly through the window of opportunity as opposed to that of fear.
If you or someone you know would benefit from finding out how this could work for you please CLICK HERE and fill in your details to take the first step toward reclaiming your life – I look forward to hearing from you – Sue