Saturday, October 10, 2015

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day and the focus is Dignity. I've had depression as long as I can remember and developed anxiety and panic attacks a couple of years ago. My panic attacks happened very out of the blue and I usually burst into tears and felt the need to run away from whatever situation I was in and hide sobbing in a bathroom. It was highly embarrassing and happened often when I was in a group situation. I felt so out of control of what my body and mind were doing. I get a little more warning now I'm used to the panic attacks and can feel my anxiety starting to build, so I try and calm myself down or take myself away from people before it spills out of me causing a scene.

The depression I'm a lot more familiar with. I know it's getting bad when I want to cut myself off from everyone as I find being around people very difficult. It's an inward struggle as I feel like I'm fighting all the negativity my brain throws at me. You're not good enough. No one likes you. Why don't you just go away forever. You're ugly inside and out. Annoyingly I'm usually a very sociable person and enjoy the company of people (I prefer small groups to large gatherings ideally) which makes this doubly difficult to deal with.

Ways I've managed my mental health have been tricky. I've controlled my eating and lost a lot of weight at times plus I've self harmed by cutting as which started when I was around 15. More recently I've been trying to have lovely hot bubble baths and do some kind of exercise to try and block out the negative thoughts. I'm on an NHS wait list for CBT since around May/June, but it feels like the wait is taking forever...

Being ill this year has had a massive impact on my sometimes fragile mental health. I haven't been able to exercise so that coping method is out. For a while I wasn't allowed to have a bath as I had dressings that couldn't get wet so I had to have careful showers. Now I have an Ostomy bag there isn't a time when I'm not wearing it so having a bath means seeing it floating still attached to me in the water and worrying if it will get unstuck that night and leak. The bag makes me feel fat, ugly, different and unwanted. It takes away my dignity when it gets very active and produces a lot of gas causing the bag to puff up like a balloon which is very hard/impossible to conceal. 

I'm struggling at the moment if I'm honest. I hate the way I look and the way I get so exhausted if I have two active days in a row. I had two days in London this week for hospital appointments and the next two days I could hardly move off the sofa and ended up napping most of those 48hrs. It feels like I'm wasting my life and everything is passing me by, like I can't get involved or actually be a part of my own life. The feeling of loneliness and disconnection is all consuming at times. 

I'm trying to overcome it. At least now I recognise the signs of when things are getting mentally tough and I try and reach out to my close friends and resist the temptation to curl up in my shell and hide from the world with my cats. I try and force myself to at least walk into town and get some fresh air and gentle exercise a couple of times a week. I try to remember this is temporary and what's one year when hopefully soon I'll have finished my surgery journey and be able to start life anew having refocused and reprioritised. I look forward to being able to work out, play roller derby, climb, do pole fitness and anything else that looks like fun without having to make sure the days afterwards are clear so I can just sleep and take pain killers. 

Therapists and books always recommend living in the now and I'm spending far too much time living in the future where I am fit and strong again. The now isn't fun but it is what it is. I will spend today thinking and being grateful for all of the things I can do instead of being sad about the things I can't do. Also I will spend today giving thanks for all of the wonderful people in my life who have been so understanding, supportive and kind. I love you all and I'm so grateful to those who put up with my mood swings and self destructive tendencies.

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