What does mental health look like??
Thats the thing with mental Health....it doesn't have a 'look' I often feel like an imposter saying I suffer, don't we all to some extent?
Family is fragile and No one is immune to it breaking......I thought we were immune, something that would never apply to us, but how wrong could one be. Mental health takes no prisoners and just like physical health it doesnt care for your background or profession.
But when mental health is involved and things start to get strained, it becomes really fragile and that once strong family unit you thought unbreakable starts to crack....this is just my account of things and I'm sure the rest of the family feels different.
If you're dealing with one thing, as a unit you can get through anything. When part of the unit gets taken away you should be able to regroup, but when the little things become massive it tears the rug from right under your feet.
I penned this blog a long time ago, and haven't felt strong enough to share.
I liked the anonymity of social media as crazy as that sounds...I knew I would never bump into any of my followers, no one locally really new me. Today its different the girls are at school & people, friends & family will now know about my weaknesses & vulnerability.
I was brought up around mental Health/depression. As hard as it is to admit and as hard as it will be for my Mum to read...I comforted her on her darkest days and was pushed away when I needed her the most to be my Mum.
Not her fault by any means....I sought solace in my Aunties arms, and for that I will be forever grateful. In a way that they wouldn't even know what that cuddle meant to me, no one else would know what was going on.
No one else would hear my Mum cry at night, coping with what ever demons she was dealing with.
Only now I kind of understand...and can't even begin to imagine, I can only empathise.
Loosing her parents as such a young age, not being able to share the joys of motherhood with her own Mother. Then a few years after loosing her father too.
My Dad never really had a father growing up, so came from a single parent background.
Did they have the knowledge to keep us/it all together when things got rough???
As a family we went through some shit times times, hiding it away from others, pretending, & showing on the outside that all is well.
I always remember my Mum telling us to talk about our emotions and how we were feeling. That her own Mum died from drowning from the inside because she didn't talk about how she was feeling...(If you ask my Mum today she will swear blind she never said that) maybe that was just my interpretation...but it always stuck with me, and so I would always talk to my Mum about everything.
It turns out my Nan actually died from emphysema and she was actually a manic depressive. Back then it certainly wasn't spoken about!
My Mum turned to alternative therapies & medicine, Thai Chi, self help groups anything that would help her get through, all the while under my beady eye . Being the eldest of 4 I was aware of everything that was going on, often a shoulder to cry on for my Mum and a protecter of my younger siblings.
My Mum was(is) amazing...she became very good at fixing other people, making other people talk, and generally being the go to person when anyone was in trouble.
I think, I became less able to talk as I've got older, the better Mum got I realised she didn't need me as much any more, and other people needed her more than I did
I always try and hold my shit together, its what I was used too, crying away from peoples eye. Not being seen to struggle outwardly, being the strong one, being able to control every situation( which is ridiculous)
There have been years when I have found things particularly hard for no 'apparent' reason. Even these days I never feel truly settled/ rested/at peace....
I'm filled with what if's, I want to be around people, yet be alone, Im not a talker but yet surprise myself in situations.
I feel I have nothing to give, I'm bored of my own voice.
People have a perception of me mainly being loud and confident. Don't get me wrong, I can be but surrounded by those I feel most comfortable and at ease with. I'd rather walk into a room and smile and say hello to everyone, than walk in with my head down, as I feel this draws more attention to myself.
I don't like to talk about how I feeling, but I can write it down, I find it easier and it certainly lightens my load!
When I read it back it doesnt feel like me...it feels too dark, too sad...up until now I've never shared this side of me, but I do know I've always been this way(and forgotten/erased it) I never thought I have felt 'that' down, but I have the diaries to prove otherwise, and it saddens me to think I had thoughts like I did in my teens.
I don't really remember those dark times specifically, I remember not feeling full, I remember sad, but these were really sad, I must of felt this way for me to write it down.
Do I see myself as someone with mental health or depression? No not really, but I am surrounded by mental health, everyone has been effected in one way or another My Mum, My Sister, my friends and most of the men in my family.
I am able to carry on when most are not, I don't seem as bad as them, and I don't mean it in derogatory terms, I mean in my struggle & suffering!
Recently I lost my mojo, my meaning, my creativity, the enthusiasm for myself & business, but I have it for others....I have strength for them, I guess it's easier to deal with if its not your own mess.
I know this is a foggy time for me and that it will lift, I know that when I'm at my emptiest Im due my B12 Jab and its the lack of b12 thats talking these days(or so I like to think!) I'll talk more about this deficiency another time!
Having the deal with men and depression is a whole other ball game, its not seen as manly its certainly not openly talked about, yet it's probably more dangerous as it does go unnoticed, or worse they are told to 'man up'.
My brothers and my Dad both have tendency to fall victim of it, but will not openly admit it- until recently that is, when My Dad has had to admit 'defeat' when he nearly lost his life.
He couldn't get over that fact, he wasn't the man he used to be, he was no longer providing for his family and became reliant on us, unable to do simple tasks blew the wind from his sails and he was ready to give up. it scared him beyond recognition. He wasn't helping himself with all the negativity.
This hit us as a family really hard, and we all dealt with this in our own way, often on our own, as we all went back to our own families, to try and resume some normality.
Just weeks before this tragedy struck I had my youngest brother staying with us as he was in a very bad place. he tried to take his own life, so I physically went and got him and brought him home with me.
He stayed for a week or so, and I tried to get help... but unless he needed an ambulance it was referrals to groups.
He was no where near ready to get out and talk, unless you're in a place to help yourself then this isn't the route for you, I felt totally helpless, and alone. Its hard trying to help someone that does want it, or isn't ready to admit it just yet.
With Mental health comes a change of character. One that was never in our family, a trait that no one recognises...Selfishness...the more depression absorbs you, absorbs your personality you become someone that we don't acknowledge.
Its hard to except that someone you love and have had the same up bringing can become so self absorbed and selfish with a disregard for you and your feelings.
I in turn felt selfish, as I then think no one cares about how I'm feeling, im carrying on...do they care what affect this has on me and my wellbeing and my relationships with my husband and girls...how short tempered I was being, taking it out on those closest to me, not coping with their moaning, having no patience. Everyone wanting a piece of me...but that's called being a Mama & wife and I had to get on with it, as they were equally and righty relying on me.
Living with fear and uncertainty every day is exhausting.
Trying to be 'there' for that person when all they have been is horrible and trying to be nice, when you're hurting yourself is tiring.
Having(trying) to stay positive towards your loved one as you never know if your words will be the last words that person hears, because when this person has had enough there is no telling what could happen.
I guess the moral of this post is...never judge a book by its cover, Depression & mental health affects us all in one way or another ,it doesn't have "A LOOK' you NEVER know whats going on behind closed doors, be kind ALWAYS. And a friendly smile or Hello CAN change someones day. If like me you find it hard to talk, write down how you are feeling, there will always be a person that is willing to help you, don't be afraid to ask.
To say that this year and a half has been tough is an understatement, the family has argued, fought and cried a lot. We are still fighting as a unit, but one that will need fixing up over time. They say time is a healer, this I believe, and with a few apologies to be said and a little forgiveness I'm sure we can kick mental healths butt