So here am again sitting in the space where I both work and try to live, as I write this we are coming to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. Now I’m going to be frank, it has taken several days of conversations and out loud thoughts for me to even consider putting what I am feeling on paper (or on a blog but you get the point), I have decided however, that it is important that people hear my story so I am going to try and break it down.
I can’t say I knew a whole lot about mental health until recently but that is because I didn’t want to acknowledge that it was and still is a big part of the life that I am living. It’s Friday evening and I guess that if I looked at it hard enough you could argue that the challenges I faced as a kid led to mental health issues that I never noticed; I pride myself on being a person that works hard to achieve all I can despite my disability and I try to be positive but I won’t lie growing up with people making fun of and laughing at you because of something you can’t change was in no way a picnic.
I am 25 years old now and struggling with mental health is a very real and scary reality for me, I hate big groups of people, I always feel like they are looking at and judging me for the way that I move or carry out an activity, this sometimes makes me panic and stress – it can even turn something fun into something I just want to run away from. If you feel like this sometimes too it is okay, you don’t have to be completely together all the time.
I spend a lot of time in my own head, I tend to catastrophize and believe me I know how terrifying that can be because you start to think the worst of yourself and mentally tear yourself down. I have experienced this because I sometimes find that I beat myself up and I do not see myself as worthy because I have an additional need –trust me, even if you don’t feel it right now, you are worth it and all you have achieved is remarkable. There are days where all I can do is get out of bed, not see people or do anything productive but just use all my energy to get myself up and moving and that is okay. I have good days too so please do not think this is all doom and gloom, but I am just trying to be honest.
I like to think of myself as a hard worker, but there are days where I try to do everything because even after over 20 years of finding a way to function successfully I sometimes feel like I have to work twice as hard to prove that I am a valid member of the team and that I am worth the chance that was taken on me. The sensible and rational side of my personality knows that I am good at what I do and that am i am worthy but it is my self confidence that needs help. This is not something that can be fixed overnight but I am trying.
So I realise this piece has been me kind of rambling on (I struggled to put all this into words okay?!). But the point is that it is okay to talk about mental health because it is a reality that won’t just go away, sometimes you have to get out into the world somehow and face it.
I know what you might be thinking, “Lucy, it’s not always that simple” and you know what, you are probably right; but sometimes all you can do is take it a day at a time and do your best.
I have learned that self-care is a really important part of trying to keep myself in a positive frame of mind so I spend a lot of time with my headphones in listening to music and drinking endless cups of tea, I also spend time going for walks if I feel up to it as it gives me a chance to clear my head and try to find my own form of inner peace and simple joy, it’s not always easy but I have learned that you have got to make the best of the situation at the time.
I am also incredibly thankful for the people I have in my life right now because they take some of the days I find the most difficult in their stride and are supportive, friendly and full of love/kindness. I do not know if they will ever understand just how much that means to me.
My last few bits of advice I can give you are these: if you feel that you need support please TALK about it, to a friend, family member or someone you trust. Don’t be ashamed to seek help, whether that’s therapy, medication an exercise routine (I had one of these and it actually worked out pretty well, I recommend it and want to get back on it) or a good moan/rant to someone, there will always be a way to make things better.
It took me a long time to believe this and I am still working on it but as a human being I am a pretty awesome individual and it is okay if things don’t go to plan all the time. YOU ARE NOT LESS OF A PERSON because of your struggle; it is just the way life goes sometimes.
Just keep being you and don’t let anyone knock your sparkle out because you matter too!
All the love,