This is the second part of this mini-series. To see part one, the backstory, click here.
As I am writing this I am still unemployed. I have been out of work now for just over a month and this time has certainly had it’s ups and its downs.
I wasn’t sure if I’d even get through my final week at work, after crying a lot (often while working) and generally just feeling anxious all the time. But I did it and the relief that flooded me as I walked out of that building for the last time was unbelievable!
So what have I been doing with all this time off?
I’ve been back and forth with various doctors for a while over the last few months of working. I finally managed to find a doctor who would listen to me and who I felt like I could trust.
I finally found a doctor I could trust
Now I am in no way disregarding the work our health service does, but it can often feel like – especially in cases of mental health – that no one has time for you. If you’re in that situation now where you’re seeking medical help, please do not give up. You are allowed to change doctors as often as you need and I promise the right one will be out there for you.
Anyway, as well as doctors appointments I also starting seeing a mental health consultant through an NHS system. I did this mainly to please my GP to be totally honest with you, but I suppose getting as much help as possible was the right thing to do.
As well as flitting between various appointments I also starting spend a lot of time on myself. Because I no longer had any commitments, I spent my days sleeping as often as possible (something that I didn’t even realise I needed) and watching a lot of daytime TV!
But as you can imagine, this lifestyle wasn’t really working for me. It was fun for the first week or so, where I could kid myself I was just on holiday. Then I found myself still feeling low and unsettled.
Like with everything, I had to start small
As I said in my last post, I am incredibly lucky with the people I have in my life. They weren’t going to let me fade away on my own! I started saying yes to seeing my closest friends; spent a week away with my grandparents and stayed at my partner’s house as often as I could. It took some time for me to feel confident with social situations again but I started small by being with only those I am closest too (ie. spending time with immediate family) and worked my way up from there.
GETTING BACK INTO THE HABIT
One of the biggest issues I still faced was my lack of motivation or enthusiasm for the things I had loved before – in particular reading and writing. Over the course of my low spell I found that I couldn’t concentrate on anything for long periods of time or I simply just didn’t care about doing anything other than mindlessly starting at the TV screen.
With all my time off, being around wonderful friendly faces and getting medical help (which included medication) I slowly but surely started to push myself to do things again. In terms of writing, I started scribbling in my journal again.
Like with everything, I had to start small.
Writing in a journal is something I have done on and off for as long as I can remember, but it had been months before I’d even picked up a pen. I thought that in order to get back into my love for writing I needed to take the pressure off myself. The scribbles and musings I wrote down in a private notebook were a way for me to be both creative and to get some things off my chest.
Now I am aware that I am kind of brushing over all of this. It may seem like I recovered quickly and everything is hunky-dory again now, but there is simply no way I can express everything that has come together to get me onto the road of recovery.
This time away from work has allowed me to really, seriously focus on self – care and for the first time in my life I am taking care of myself properly. I am learning everyday what my triggers are, what signs show I’m having a bad day and how to deal with them in a safe way.
I thought I’d sum up the lessons I have learnt over all of this time to help anyone out there who might need it. Here are the three main things I learnt from falling and recovering with mental health:
You have so much support around you and you don’t even know it.
Prior to my issues this year, I thought I could handle everything on my own. I didn’t like opening up to people and ‘burdening’ them with my issues. This year has forced me to be honest and trust those around me and I am so overwhelmed by the kindness.
It can be so scary admitting and sharing that you are not okay, but trust me (and I meant it, trust me) those you hold dear only want what is best for you and everyone will come together to ensure that you get back to yourself again. There is always someone out there who will help (links will be left below if you’re struggling).
Everyone goes through it at some point
What made sharing my issues easier was the fact that everyone I spoke to understood. They too had been through similar dark patches, or knew someone who had. Doctors reminded me at every appointment that I wasn’t the only patient that had that was going through similar things – and I certainly wouldn’t be that last.
I know it’s a common thing to read on posts like this: you’re not alone. But you really aren’t! Everyone has a mental health, just as they have a physical, and in the same way anyone can get a cold, anyone can suffer from issues within their brain. The more we open up and get honest about our experiences, the less surprising this fact will be.
You need to trust yourself
You will get through any dark patch that comes to you, I promise. One of the most vital things I have learnt over this period is the fact that the road to recovery starts within.
Now not to sound to hippyish or anything, but I do think if I’d listened to myself sooner and paid attention to the warning signs I mightn’t have got sucked in so deep. Really take the time and have the patience to listen to your mind, body and soul. The first step to getting better is figuring out what it is you need. Only you have the answers to that, so how will you find them if you don’t look?
My road to recovery so far has been a difficult and long one, and I know I still have a lot of work to do. But I am so grateful, after everything, that I now understand myself and my mind a bit better.
I want to continue doing things that make me feel good and continue to take actual care of myself.
I wish you all the best, reader.
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