Time To Talk – Time To Change
February 2nd marks Time to Talk Day. The charity Time to Change is asking us to speak up about mental health and help change the way people view mental health sufferers.
I am a wife, mother, teacher, friend, sister and daughter. I work nearly full time and have two lovely children. To all intents and purposes I am happy and normal but like 1 in 4 people I have been treated for mental health issues.
So here’s my own story:
When I was 16, I had my first depressive episode. I just felt unable to cope with being me and trying to fit in with other people. I took my anger out on my family, tried to be a rebellious teen and didn’t make much attempt to deal with it other than to take anti-depressants for 4 months. I said I was fine.
During my second year at university, I realised that I was beginning a new downward spiral into depression. I went to the GP and was again prescribed anti-depressants which had the effect of making feel terrible and I have since read they have been linked to suicides in adolescents. Again I didn’t make efforts to solve the problems or understand why I felt the way I did. I just took the anti-depressants and tried to move on. I was deeply unhappy and my memories of university are pretty bad. I said I was fine and my housemates just thought I was a bit strange.
At the end of my third year of university my father died of lung cancer. It was the weekend before my final exams. He has only been diagnosed 18 days before. Grief itself is also a form of mental illness. It is something you have to work through and learn to live with or it comes to dominate your entire life. For a long time I was angry and guilty in the same measure. Had I done enough as a daughter? Why had my dad left mum and me and my brother? Losing my dad meant that I finally felt I had a reason to be depressed and I was much more willing to accept help. I attended bereavement counselling and can honestly say it helped me more than anything else. I wasn’t fine and I asked for help.
In 2011 and 2013 I was blessed with my girls. 5 hours after Bebe was born, a less than tactful paediatrician informed me that I would probably get PND as I’d previously suffered from depression. Nothing else just a pronouncement. He was right but that doesn’t matter. My PND didn’t manifest until Bebe was 4 months old and I was crippled by doubt, thinking I was a terrible parent and I was doing it wrong. Anti-depressants? Check. This time I was helped by an amazing Health Visitor who would visit weekly and talk me through the problems. I wasn’t fine and I asked for help.
In 2013, I saw the warning signs but did nothing until I had a complete breakdown whilst on a caravan holiday in Devon. Nothing scares you or your husband like the sight of you rocking on the floor holding the baby and begging to go home. Ironic now as I think of it, because I was the driver. Back on meds and the offer of specific PND counselling provided by the NHS. Only problem was that it was at the same time every week, they cancelled the first set of sessions and then I had to go back to work. Admitting you have mental health issues as a teacher is very hard. Asking for the same hour and a half off each week was a step I was too scared to take. I said I was fine.
Fast forward to last July. I am by nature a bit of a worrier; I worry about my children, my husband, the students I have about to take exams, the way I look, how others perceive me, my bank balance, you get the picture. This time I had a total breakdown on my mother just before we were taking the girls out for the day. This time I ignored it and tried to carry on…
… this was incredibly stupid as in October I felt myself wobbling again. This time however it is different. Yes, I am back taking medication but it is not the cure, it is just something to help me be at a level where I can regain control.
I am now investing time in learning about how my mind works. Ruby Wax’s book has been very helpful.
I have stopped using hormonal contraceptives as I have a niggling feeling that the combined pill and Mirena coil have had a massive impact on my life and mental health.
I am trying to take time out to meditate every day. It felt a bit weird the first couple of times but is an app on my phone that I can listen to before I go to sleep.
I am taking time to do fun things with my family.
I am taking time to do things with my husband.
I am trying to do things for me, that make me happy.
I am learning to not feel guilty for wanting ‘me’ time.
I am learning to love me.
For more information on Time to Talk Day go to www.time-to-change.org.uk
Other sources of information for help and advice on Mental Health:
Image credit: www.time-to-change.org.uk