I’ve been planning to write this blog post for about two weeks now. It is probably the hardest one to write. It’s about something that I don’t tell anyone unless I am comfortable enough. But I have pledged to talk about this as it is something that I wish I could feel comfortable to talk about and talking can save lives.
So here goes.
I am Lisa; I’m 28, I do my job well, I am in a long-term stable relationship, I love surfing, gaming, I’m slightly addicted to Pinterest…
And I have what is called ‘generalised anxiety disorder’ with depressive and obsessive episodes.
There I said it. That’s me.
When I tell people I have mental health issues I get one of 3 reactions:
1. (Least common – thankfully!) is that it’s “all in my head”, I shouldn’t feel anxious about x,y or z or I should “just get over it/myself”. This reaction doesn’t help at all.
2. (Most common) blank look, “oh…” Then never bring it up again. However, the relationship changes to be slightly awkward and lots of trying not mention anything remotely related to mental health.
3. (Least common) “I/ my aunt/ friend/ husband has *insert mental health issue here*”, “if you need anything I’m here”, “Do you want to talk about it?”. Thank you to everyone who falls into this category – I wouldn’t fight the good fight without you.
So what’s it like to have generalised anxiety disorder with depressive and obsessive episodes?
A difficult question – My day is not typical of a person with the same mental health issues I have. However, I will try to explain as best I can.
At my worst, my day was brimming with fear. I literally couldn’t leave the house, I didn’t eat, I had to keep the house perfectly clean, and I worried about everything (and when I say everything, I mean everything). Someone doesn’t text me back – “they’re dead!/ they hate me/ who would like me anyway”, I eat a morsel of food “you’re going to end up fat/ this will make you sick” you get the idea. When this was my life – I thought about giving up. But with the support of James and my mum as well as a few select folks I am still here, and I am still standing my ground.
Today, I am a little better, I fight every day to keep my thoughts in check, and I take medication to help me in my battle (Effexor 225mg if you are curious). I was once told that “Your meds are like an Elastoplast if you cut yourself you wouldn’t leave it to get worse you would help it have the space to heal. It’s the same with your meds”, and I use that every morning.
My job keeps me super busy, and I have no time to let the thoughts take over. Sometimes I find it hard though. When I get up in the morning and have to get up out of bed, go out and face the world the voices are overwhelming. I can proudly say though that they haven’t beaten me yet. Even on the worst days, I have not given in. And I will not let it beat me.
Recently I have been pushing myself. I got on a bus recently for the first time in nearly two years. I have gone out for coffee with someone who wasn’t James or my mum, and I attended a yoga class. Two years later, I am getting there.
If you have mental health issues, know anyone with mental health issues or want to reach out to someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while. Please take 5 minutes now. Asking a simple “how are you?” Or saying “I’m thinking of you” can change a life.
Please pledge not your money but your time.
It’s Time to Change.
It’s Time to Talk.