Yes, you’re seeing correctly, I’m actually here with a new blog after many months away. Anybody that follows my twitter account @its0kaytotalk will see a constant steam of tweets. Some of which seem like encouraging, motivational thoughts but on paper are often just ramblings. Either way at least they try to open up a platform to discuss mental health in a positive manner, aiming to rid stigma and discrimination. If my relapse and the last few months have shown me anything, we still have a long way to go.
Last year I went on the trip of a lifetime where I became engaged, which I think incidentally was the last time I wrote a blog post. I felt on top of the world and then I came back to earth with a crash. My beautiful nephew was born and sadly flew to heaven the same day. Needless to say my whole family were and are crushed. From that day on everything has changed for us all. I do believe that the details of this are private for my family and not appropriate for my page and so wont share anymore. One thing, however became apparent, something I wasn’t expecting. My illness had new hidden depths I was yet to discover.
At first I coped well with it in terms of my mental health. Of course I was and still am grieving, but grief can be healthy. It is okay to feel immense pain over such a huge loss. My initial worries of this triggering a relapse seemed unfounded and I carried on as a campaigner. Speaking at events, recording vlogs, agreeing to travel to London to film some documentaries and filming for BBC radio.
A few weeks passed and I started to notice new symptoms. Driving home from uni one day I couldn’t shake this feeling I was being watched. I didn’t know by who but I had these flashing thoughts there may be a camera in my car. I managed to counter act these thoughts initially. I knew they were unfounded yet seemed concerned I was having these thoughts at all? What was happening to me? I continued to go to university, yet it became more difficult by the day. Such a busy environment and initially I hadn’t made many friends. I’ve always been bad in social situations but I could feel my mental health deteriorating. My anxiety increasing day by day until I became too scared to leave the house.
Symptoms continued to appear. Vivid images, nightmares, intrusive thoughts that I was going to be harmed by someone. A huge distrust of everyone and I realised I wasn’t well again, I had relapsed. These symptoms of paranoia were very new to me. I found myself sitting in the car an extra twenty minutes. Just summoning up the courage to move before I could leave for my house. I found myself locked in my room. I was convinced I was going to be harmed but I didn’t know who by.
Now this isn’t easy to blog about but I feel its important to discuss symptoms of mental illness, after all that’s all they were. I wasn’t dangerous, I wasn’t mad, i was just poorly yet this time with new battles to overcome. Long story short I saw 4 different mental health nurses all unable to help me. I self referred to talking therapies, was turned way by three GP (because I was on specialist medication) and faced huge stigma from medical professionals. I was given a six month waiting time for any help and without going into too much detail. I was let down by our NHS.
In the end I was told by my local crisis team to go to a+e, where I waited 9 hours to be sent home with no help. 3 different members of the NHS told myself and my mum the only way I could get the vital help I needed was to pay privately. I was told I didn’t have six months to wait.The hardest moment of my life was crowdfunding for private care, but thank goodness we swallowed our pride because it has saved my life. Just over 6 weeks I’ve been on anti psychotics as a mood stabiliser and I’m feeling like the old me more day by day. It is a slow process and I don’t know if irreparable damage has been done but I’m on the road to recovery and thankful to every single person that made that possible.
Now I have caught all my readers up on the last few months, let me say this. We all have a mental health that needs looking after. We all will face despair in our lives but its the loved ones around us that show hope, a reason to fight. There is a huge stigma against medication for mental health, especially when those medications are called anti psychotic yet there needn’t be and small conversations will tackle this. These tablets don’t make me dangerous, mad or unloveable, they make me well.
This relapse has taught me that my illness can change and adapt just as I do, but I can beat it. It has however shown me that I’m not invincible, I need to self-care and look after my health. Above all, this relapse has shown me the true power of support. My family, fiance, friends and the mental health community showed huge generosity, support and love. They showed acceptance. Let my story show you that having a mental illness does not make you unlovable. It is not a life sentence, yes you may relapse, yes it is immensely painful but you are not alone. That black dog will follow you but so will the love and support of those around you, they’re there even when you can’t see, hear or sense them.
I will spend my life fighting the inequalities that face those that suffer with their mental health. Using my voice to speak out, even when it feels scary like right now. Although uncomfortable to speak about such private struggles, I hope it can show others they’re not alone. I will spend my life fighting my illness and being on top of it, but ill also spend my life surrounded by love. Even when the darkness drowns it out. We are all loved.
Remember, its okay to talk.
** DISCLAIMER – i SUPPORT OUR NHS FULLY. SERVICES ARE STRETCHED YES BUT AREA ACCOUNTS FOR A LOT. PLEASE DO NOT BE PUT OFF SEEKING MEDICAL HELP IF YOU NEED IT. MY STORY IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE, THERE ARE MANY THAT GET GREAT CARE. I AM UNFORTUNATELY ONE OF MANY THAT DIDN’T. REGARDLESS PLEASE SEEK HELP SHOULD YOU NEED IT.