Saturday, 13 May 2017

Chapter 3 | My Story

It's been a little over a year since I wrote the second part of this little story of my mind so there's a lot to catch up on. It's going to be a rambly one so I hope you can bare with me. My mental health hasn't changed in the dramatic way that I was hoping for this time last year. But I have learnt to trust the undeniably lengthy process and it's important that I remind myself of the changes that have happened, as they're not always as small as I think they are.

I learn more and more about myself every single day. I am getting to know how my mind works and why I think the way I do. For example I can recognise the early signs of feeling anxious and I know which situations intensify my anxiety, but I haven't quite figured out how to manage it yet. Fortunately I don't suffer from panic attacks but I still experience physical symptoms - certainly not as severe but they can still have a significant impact in certain situations.

I think in one of previous posts, I mentioned that I don't like going into shops, which I still unfortunately hate. In fact any brightly lit busy environment is a no no for my anxiety. It's a feeling of being exposed and 'seen', which might sound absurd to some but it makes me feel dizzy and disassociated from my surroundings. It's not that I can't go into shops full stop because of course I regularly do, but I wish I didn't have the feelings about it that I do. I think it's worse that I get these feelings in "everyday" situations as that's what I feel makes the whole mental illness thing so frustrating, because it's these exact reasons that make me feel so "abnormal" sometimes. What even is normal and what makes a person more normal than the next. I don't have the answer but I do know that having a mental illness makes me feel abnormal on a daily basis. Is this just a product of my low self esteem or is it because I've had drilled into me that having a mental illness isn't really commonplace? I think the latter and I know a large majority of people think the same as I do.

When I wrote my part 2 I didn't have a job which at the time I thought was quite a significant factor in how I was feeling. In fact I was told regularly that getting a job would probably be the answer to my prayers and I believed it. That was wrong of course. I mean, having a job has helped in a lot of ways and it means that I'm not stuck inside all the time, but it wasn't the magical cure I was frequently promised. Claiming anything to be a cure is a bit overzealous anyway but you start to believe anything and everything just for the slight shred of hope that these 'normal' things that 'normal' people do will rein you back into 'normality'. Obviously this is absolutely ridiculous because someone with a mental illness isn't an entirely different species than the rest of mankind, yet there's still so much out there that makes us believe that we are. I know my job hasn't fixed my problems for me, just like how I know going on holiday won't fix my problems, or going to university and so on. It's just a lesson learnt that quick fixes aren't the answer to my prayers after all and I have to continue trudging along the long road. But it's on the long road where I will learn the most so I know I just have to keep trusting the process, and so long as I keep telling myself this I think I will be ok.

The largest hurdle I struggle to surpass is my own cynical attitude about myself. I want to raise as much money as I can for my Kilimanjaro trek, I want to exercise regularly, I want to progress in my career and pursue other ventures. I want to want to do things. I feel so prevented to achieve my goals sometimes because I feel so defeated. Every idea is immediately a waste of time before it's even had a chance to develop as a potential something in my head. I would love more than anything to find the motivation I had two years ago. I'm not lazy, I shouldn't even have to justify that when I talk about things like this, but I feel like I always have to find a really good excuse as to why I don't do things, because depression never seems to be a good enough one.

I wish a lot of people would realise that it's the small things like that, that make mental illness so difficult. Simply knowing that mental illness exists isn't enough. I feel that not enough people are willing to learn about it because they feel it doesn't affect them. I think mental health affects everybody, whether it's minimally or severely, and there's a lot more to it than depression or anxiety. Stress, anger and sleep problems fall under the bracket. Have you ever felt really stressed? That's related to mental health. Maybe you haven't experienced depression and if you haven't I consider you very fortunate, but I believe that every one of us will experience something mental health related at least once in our lives, and it doesn't have to be something like depression. It's something we should all take very seriously, like with any illness, because it's around us whether we may like it or not. Just like any physical illness. Start learning about mental illness now. It's so important and it's more than just learning, it's life saving.


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