I have had three major ‘episodes’ in my life, when I have been incredibly unhappy and in my opinion not able to function on a normal level. I have felt so alone and that no one can understand me.
I have experienced many symptoms of poor mental health. I have withdrawn from life on various levels at various times – I have turned my focus inwards, had days off sick, stayed in my PJs and just sat on the sofa, not gone out of the house. I have retreated to bed the second my husband walked through the door, hiding away from the world and leaving him with the children and to look after the house. I have thought that I am a terrible person, wife and mother, and believed it. I have found it extremely difficult to adequately care for my daughters and meet their needs. I have considered that my family would be better off without me, I thought about leaving them and living on my own. I have wondered whilst on the station platform what the sensation of jumping in front of the train would feel like.
I have hidden myself behind a mask that I present to the world, so that no one could truly see me. I have been told that I am good and capable at my job, that I am a great mum, even when I was crumbling and falling apart inside. Once, I went to my GP but was told I did not have depression, just that life was hard. I am not someone to ask for help. This only reinforced all my views of myself in the world and made everything even worse. For so long my isolation in my own mind was a self-fulfilling prophecy, perpetuating my negativity. I felt that I was broken and there was nothing that could fix me.
My motivation and strength to overcome these symptoms came from my daughters, so that they could have the mother they deserved and that they would be able to grow up happy themselves, and the support to do so came from my husband. I no longer have symptoms that interfere with my ability to live a normal life on a daily basis, although I remain in a constant fight to subdue the thoughts and negative voice in my head that can so rapidly go out of control. I still struggle with social anxiety and isolation. I feel that I am inferior to everyone else and important to no one. I anticipate people have a negative opinion of me and don’t like me. I have low self confidence and self esteem. I find it difficult to accept or believe a compliment, or that I have abilities to achieve things.
Through counselling I have been healing myself, something I always felt that I needed. This has given me a space and time to talk and express myself that I just didn’t have and didn’t know how to do before. I have been able to address the underlying issues behind my thoughts and feelings and gradually things are really changing inside me. I have been able to reason with my inner voice now and give myself evidence against these viewpoints. I have started to trust or at least have hope in others that allows me to be more open with them and in return I am rewarded with better relationships and greater happiness.
The evidence that I have though is that dealing with mental health and emotional problems on your own is not a solution, this does not work. Learning to identify and share my feelings, through counselling, through becoming more open with people in my life has shown me that there is another way. One of the things I have learned on my journey towards filled happiness is that if I feel something, it’s likely that someone else has similar feelings about something in their own life. We all obviously have different experiences but there still remains remarkable similarities in how we interpret them. I have been amazed to read the writing of so many others that accurately describes many of my feelings. (I’m new to all this and there are many to credit but I would like to particularly mention Leigh at Headspace Perspective, Renee at Mummy Tries and Stacey at Inside Battle). It has served to normalise my experience for me, making it something that I am learning to accept about myself.
That is not to say that I think poor mental health and unhappiness should be accepted, rather that we all deserve to be happy. Writing is my therapy. In starting to write myself, I have come to realise that sharing and talking and being open about issues such as mine is the way forward. In this way we can hope to make things better for many, writers both give and receive support and we can all have a little more empathy.