I am, to use the vernacular, not right in the head. I’ve wrestled, tickled, fought, embraced, and even tried to not acknowledge my mental health issues over the years with varying degrees of success and humour over the years.
I’m cyclothalmic, and clinically depressed, and have PTSD which adds a particularly nuanced variability in my ability to deal with crowds and unexpected loud noises at different times of the year.
Why am I telling you this? To be visible; and wave a flag to people that I may never meet that they are not alone. I hope that the thought that there’s someone else fighting to function through the day will help in some way. Our fights won’t be the same fight, because everyone deals with mental illness or its fallout in different ways; but there are points of congruence and similar experiences, even if it only manifests as a similarly dark and dry sense of humour that doesn’t just skim close to the knuckle but buries in there like a cleaver and has a good wriggle around.
Sometimes I have a constructive attitude towards it – that my brain works in a different way, and that my experiences give me insight and empathy towards other people and their circumstances. Sometimes I can’t do that because I don’t have the reserves to care for myself and my own existence, let alone anyone else. These are days of flat stares and silence, of not washing or taking care of my appearance. They’re days of retreat and being incapable of reaching out because I know with granite certainty that I’m not worth it, and people either have enough of their own things to deal with or that I’m just not their cup of tea and am a burden if I ask.
I take my medications, and I’m in long term counselling that is as useful during healthier times as unhealthy as a sounding box to unpick behaviours and reactions to work out what is fuelling the responses to what is around me.
All this is a very very roundabout way of saying: talk to people, listen to people, talk to GPs, use the talking therapies. Do whatever it takes to be heard and gather the support networks of friends and professionals so you can put in place your healthy coping mechanisms.
Paradoxically, even if I’m having a hard time, I can still listen and talk to other people in difficulties. In part I think it’s because *shock* someone wants to talk to me, or it’s a distraction from my own headspace. You may find the same works for you, or you may not.
I’m rambling now. It’s late and I’m not well. Mental Health Day, it’s important. You are important.