Thursday, 4 February 2016

Time To Talk...

Today is Time To Talk Day. There is more information here but the idea is to get everyone talking about mental health to finally break down the stigma that is still associated with it.
I mentioned in my first post that I made some changes in my life this year so I'm going to be brave and tell my story (maybe a brief version, I'm not sure how brave I am yet...)
So... hello. I am Louise, I am 23 and 10 months and I have depression and anxiety.
(Okay, this is hard)
Really I have known that I have struggled since I was around 15 at school. I knew something was wrong but I didn't know what and I thought I was just being a teenager so I pretended it wasn't there. Then I went to college and it got worse and worse until one day I had a breakdown in the middle of a corridor, on my own. I just sat on the floor, sobbing, until someone found me. I dropped out of college and things started seeming a little bit clearer but I still kept feeling like I was falling back down.
I remember thinking "maybe this is depression" but I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't want people to think I was attention seeking or I was making it up. And I was afraid nobody would care anyway. So I just dealt with it. I paint on my face every morning, leave the house and pretend everything is wonderful. And then I come home, get in to bed and hide from everyone, exhausted, until I have to do it all again the next day.
2015 was really difficult. I don't know why. Nothing happened to make everything worse. In terms of bad things happening, I've had much worse years. But everything just felt like such a struggle all of a sudden. I couldn't get out of bed. I was setting my alarm so early to try to get myself out of bed in time for work and I'd just lie there crying and not wanting to move. I could feel everything getting worse as the year went on and then round September time I had to admit to myself I did have a problem.
My anxiety got so much worse in 2015 too. I started having panic attacks, which was terrifying. I had one in the cinema in summer. My entire body went numb. I couldn't move and I couldn't breathe and I was too afraid to ask for help because I didn't want to ruin the film for everyone else... Good.
Social anxiety is a killer too. I've never really been one for wanting to go on nights out but every time friends suggested going anywhere I get a fear shooting through me. I'd panic from the plans being made, constantly thinking about it and how much I didn't want to go out but how I didn't want to let my friends down. I just end up making excuses to get out of everything rather than say what the problem is because it just seems so much easier.
Once I made myself acknowledge I had a problem I had to work out what I was going to do. I decided that I'd give myself until the end of the year to speak out and do the right thing. I quickly realised I needed to take myself out of work.
On 31st December 2015, I booked an appointment with my doctor. I had my appointment a week later. I sat in her office and sobbed. I anticipated the crying so I had written everything down to give to her and thankfully she was lovely and she made me feel okay.
I handed in my notice at work, which was scary and emotional. Luckily my bosses have been incredibly supportive. I know that others don't have that luck and I was so scared I'd be one of them but they made me feel comfortable and made sure I was okay.
And then I had to tell my friends and family. Again, terrified. I don't know why. I ended up sending them all a message to tell them because as much as I tried, I just can't say the words out loud. Their support and love is overwhelming. I am so lucky to have amazing people around me.
So now, I am taking medication and I am about to start therapy and I am currently taking a few weeks out of work. I am focusing on doing the right thing for me. I'm currently on week 4 of medication and these first few weeks have been tough. I can't sleep or eat properly. And I can't cry which is incredibly frustrating. But I can already feel a bit of a difference now and I'm so glad I finally did this.
8 years of sitting in silence has taking too much of a toll. So if you're reading this and have similar feelings, you're not alone and people care about you. I didn't think they did but they do. Write down everything you want to say, it makes it so much easier. I wrote letters to my doctor and my boss because I struggle too much talking about it out loud and it made things much easier.
It's time to talk.

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