depressed detective

The Black Shroud (written by John)

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you John for your openness in ‘take over 11’

As a teenager I was a very outgoing, I had a lot of friends, I was very sociable, I went away on holidays and had nice girlfriends. I had always wanted to join the police so at the age of 22 I did. I went away to training school and enjoyed the structured environment. One day I received a message to contact the reception. I did and was told that my beloved grandmother was dead. It hit me harder than I could ever imagine. I remember vividly a black shroud descending down on me which clouded everything.

Suddenly I was no longer good old dependable John, I was paralysed, not able to enjoy anything, with an overwhelming desire to hide myself away from everything and everyone. It was exhausting just trying to appear normal. I found that I couldn’t remember aspects of law and struggled with the exams. Somehow I passed out of training school, even managing the drill display at the end.

I guess I have struggled with depression and anxiety all of my adult life. I wasn’t diagnosed properly until my mid twenties, when the pressures of being a Police Officer really started to tell.

I am routinely visited by the black shroud, which restricts everything. It makes me have an incredibly low opinion of myself and bombards every waking moment with negative thoughts, which have evolved over the years into very real suicidal thoughts. I have always had a very high sense of justice, a high work ethic and detest letting people down. This collective drive of mine kept leading to burn out, I would always put others before me, even though inside I just wanted to run and hide.

Slowly but surely my mental health deteriorated, but I just kept going as normal, working long hours in ClD, helping people as a federation rep and putting myself last. I would then charge my batteries a little on rest days and start over again.

I would arrive at work 30 minutes early, as I would always have a small anxiety attack in the car park. I would sit there in my car not able to breathe, sweating profusely and sometimes crying. I would then go into the office and switch the fans on to dry out. I did this for years.

I’m a great believer now, that the brain will give you warnings and then stop you if you don’t adhere. This is exactly what happened to me. One morning I found I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t stop sweating and I couldn’t do ‘normal’ things. I had absolutely no idea how to start my car or tie my tie. I had a period of sickness and genuinely thought about taking my own life, on more than one occasion. Thoughts not action, but extremely frightening.

I never told anyone, I was ashamed that someone like me was suffering from a mental illness. All I saw in my mind was the film “one flew over the cuckoo’s nest”. I wasn’t being ridiculed by people! I went into many different departments and did very well, thanks to the periods I wasn’t enveloped in my shroud. But it was always there, hovering above me, I could feel it arriving and leaving.

I got very good over the years of masking my illness, and my colleagues were sometimes non the wiser, although I was never able to socialise, I just couldn’t do it. The surprise on their faces when I informed them that I was suffering from depression was a picture.

I couldn’t pretend anymore, my work was being effected by my inability to concentrate or sleep properly. I haven’t slept properly for over 20 years, always waking at 3am. Alone with my thoughts as my wife relegated me to the spare room, my mind went into overdrive. Little thoughts became huge problems and I would get up not refreshed and not really capable of performing at any level, never mind the extremely important job I was performing at the time.

I have tried every anti depressant out there, some good, some bad. I am now taking Lithium and an anti psychotic. These make me feel like a zombie, spaced out and without feelings. Not so good for a Police Officer, which is why I am to be medically retired after 27 years service.

My mental illness has taken over my life.

 

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The broken wrist analogy (written by Abigail)

*Picture taken off internet*

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Abigail for your openness in ‘take over 10’

When asked to write about how it feels to have depression I started by reflecting on a question that I have had for years, “do you think you’ll ever get better and stop having depression?” Personally, I don’t think so. I think depression has become an aspect of my life and I cannot ignore this. I think my brain HAS changed because of depression. I now think differently and perceive the world in a new way. Not everyone who has depression feels like this, and this is entirely from my own experience. Sometimes it doesn’t feel rubbish knowing this, more of a resigned acceptance.

But do not despair! I think it’s really hard for people who do not have a mental illness to understand that, when I say “yes I’ll always have depression” it doesn’t mean I’ll always be depressed. Quite the opposite in fact. I love life. I am so blessed and currently very lucky to be surrounded by a gorgeous network of people I know and love and I’m very excited about my future. Despite the fact I am currently going through a depressive episode. It is because of this mis-understanding I have developed something I call the “Broken Wrist Analogy”.

A few years ago I broke my wrist on holiday. The experience I had with that caused me to reflect and think of it like the one with my depression. You’ve broken your wrist and It hurts. You can’t move it and you literally can’t stop thinking about this pain. You go to the doctor get a plaster cast on it and it heals, however, it’s never quite the same because your wrist has been hurt. Sometimes you can go months without thinking about it. You can go about living your life with no problem to your wrist. Some days you can wake up and be in pain. All it does is hurt and you’re sick of it because you broke your wrist years ago and it’s just so annoying that it still hurts.

Sometimes you decide it’s a great idea to carry lots of heavy bags in one hand, causing your wrist to ache. Sometimes it aches in brand new ways. But you’ve already had pain before so you can think of ways to help it. Whether that’s going to a doctor, having a rest, or just moaning about it to friends and family. At some point you begin to see how funny it is that the wrist just keeps doing the same things in brand new shiny ways. Your wrist heals and it gets stronger. For a while its delicate but then it’s unstoppable. You begin to use it normally again, you carry one bag of shopping, then two, then three. You begin to weight lift, it gets stronger and stronger every time you do, so then the next time it hurts, it’s okay, because your muscle has all this memory of being strong. Sometimes your wrist twitches, you get a shot of pain but then it feels okay again. Sometimes it’s such a shock. It’s still got these lasting effects of the injury. You’re trying really hard, but it just hurts. And that’s not great. But it’s okay.

Over time, you accept the fact that, your wrist is different now. Its been broken but now it’s getting better, you realise that maybe if it wasn’t for all the trouble with it, your arm wouldn’t be as strong as it is now. You realise that maybe, it’s okay to be a bit different and have battered, unique, wonderful, wrist.

There we have it, me talking about my mental illness. Those who have finished the aforementioned paragraph and feel somewhat confused about a girl who clearly spends too much time thinking about old injuries that’s okay. Just know that if you know someone who has depression, it’s okay. They can still laugh and have joy and conquer difficult things and achieve EVERYTHING they want. It just means sometimes; old injuries play up.

Thank you Georgie for giving me this opportunity to write! It’s been super fun, and I would encourage anyone out there who hasn’t done this before to give this a go, it really adds perspective.

Sending love

Being gay. Being bullied (written by Bridget)

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Bridget for your openness in ‘take over 9’

Openness

I have always been bullied. There I have said it.

Hurt

I only recall one hug from mother – ever. I was perched on the edge of the bed as she tended to my baby brother. I was fiercely instructed not to move despite begging for the toilet. I got a slap, and then the hug came from guilt as the 3½ year old sobbed apologetically. 

Angry

I didn’t know what gay was when I was very young but I was able to recognise that I wasn’t like the other girls. Everyone called me a tomboy. Never a choice, just who I was. Girls teased me for being more like a boy than most boys were.

Heartbroken

Growing up gay in Glasgow was a taboo. I had secret romance. Later, she moved to London and was tragically killed. Nobody knew about us, or how much I hurt. I was unable to grieve openly. I didn’t even go to her funeral.

Scared

My mother was “informed” that I was a lesbian. She was livid. Deny it on the bible or be disowned. The shame of it would break dad’s heart. I was 16 and naïve. She still has no idea to this day that I lied.

Inadequate

I was too short to be one of Strathclyde’s finest (police), so looked at the RAF – a good job with accommodation – escape. Under 16’s needed parental consent. She refused to sign the forms and dad wouldn’t cross her. I got the forms for the Navy instead, she refused them too. At 18 I got the RAF forms again. She rifled my room frequently and mocked me when she found them. I was incapable of discipline. I couldn’t take orders. Homosexuals can’t serve, she sneered. I tore up the forms. I asked dad why she hated me. He couldn’t understand why I would think that.

Self-harm

I had no job at the end of a YTS placement. Mother said I must really be crap. I got a job. She said it would never last. I tried so hard to please her to no avail. I struggled into my twenties when I bought a flat. You’ll never leave me, she said. I did, but by then I had long shut away “me” and my persona was one that met everyone else’s expectations. In the solitude of my own home, I cut myself.

Alcohol

I was diagnosed with endometriosis, mother laughed despite the prospect of never being a gran. I worked with a man that became my partner. We shared many adventures and drank.

Abuse

I fell pregnant on honeymoon. I had a lonely 9 months while he continued to go straight to the pub after work. When the baby was 6th months I asked him to be more home-centric – he said he was what I married and told me to deal with it. We fought often.

Broken

I worked part time, my boss didn’t like me. I had trouble for a year until the day I woke up crying.

I was 34, it was a Tuesday morning. I found myself trapped in a recurring dream which I recall as far back as childhood. I can only describe it as an avalanche – chased down by an ever-increasing and over-whelming presence but always managing to outrun it in time to wake up. It engulfed me. As the fear of helplessness and impending doom hit me, I awoke, sobbing uncontrollably. For no reason I could fathom. The doctor signed me off – work related stress. I didn’t want medication, he didn’t recommend counselling and I was signed off for a month, all of which I cried, barely able to leave the house.

My beautiful little girl would “fix me” with her hugs. When I eventually stopped crying and ventured out I slowly morphed from a weak tearful person to an inhospitable creature. The frustration, anger, rage, hurt and bullying of 30 years spilled in a torrent of vitriol at anyone in the way. I told people what I thought of them – cared nothing for their feelings. I was hurt and I wanted to hurt. I trashed the house often – it was easier to hide than self-harm.

Barriers

I returned to work after 4 months because I ran out of tears. I became ruthless. I was headhunted and without hesitation nor discussion with husband, I changed job. I travelled 4-5 days and weekends were devoted to my daughter. I immersed myself in work, and my barriers became impenetrable. My avalanche was gone. When Gran passed away, I shed no tears. I took pride in this strength, not realising that I really was no better. Devoid of emotion. Nothing got in, and nothing got out.

Depression

I met a woman who became the catalyst for a spectacular change in my life. Not since my teenage sweetheart had I felt so comfortable in someone’s presence, and for the first time ever – it all came out. Through talking to her it dawned that I had all along and still suffered with my mental health.

Communication

I couldn’t be this person any more, tired of hiding, tired of fulfilling the expectations of others. I needed to cry and couldn’t. The rage building was worse than before. My avalanche came back, and I lashed out at others again. One day I walked out, left everything, even my daughter whom I loved and cherished dearly. I drove to the opposite end of the country to start a new life with the woman who listened.

Soulmate

I. Am. Gay. I wasted enough of my life not being “me”. The following few months were incredibly hard but cathartic. When I learned of the suicide of a close friend, it hit home just how fragile we are. My partner makes me feel worthwhile and makes me believe in myself. I am now 6 years without an emotional relapse, all because I have someone who listens and loves me for who I am despite my faults.

Problem-sharing

Nowadays I do exercise and sport to help. It might be meditative pilates, weights, or running. Some times I go into the woods and scream it all out. It’s my release. I went from 14st unable to run 20ft to losing weight and happily jogging half marathons. I play football again after 30 years which I love. Bad days are cancelled out with a hard run now, and when I run with a buddy, it’s a bonus.

Lessons I learned

Talk about it. Don’t bottle it up. You are not alone. There will always be someone who will listen. The people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter. Help each other. Bullies only do it because it makes them feel powerful. There is nothing to be ashamed of by being who you are.

Mind Over Marathon and beyond (written by Kathryn)

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Kathryn for your openness in ‘take over 8’

 

29th April 2017

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Manchester feeling tired, alone and anxious. I’d recently returned to work, as Clinical Trials Pharmacist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, after suffering from my third episode of severe depression and anxiety. I found returning to work challenging and I could feel my anxiety building, so was scared that I would suffer from another recurrence of depression.

I hadn’t been away on my own for some time and wasn’t sure what to do to calm my thoughts when I remembered seeing trailers for the BBC ‘Mind Over Marathon’ program about a group of people with mental illness who trained to run the London Marathon. I downloaded the program from BBC iPlayer onto my iPad. I watched the first episode while I was eating dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was amazing seeing people being so open about the challenges they faced in life and how developing friendships and having a goal to aim for was helping their recovery from mental illness. I was captivated and wanted to see if they achieved their goal and watched the second episode when I returned to my room. I went to sleep that night with a renewed sense of purpose, I’d already started running while I was off work (using the BBC Get Inspired NHS Couch to 5K app), but didn’t have the motivation to get up to 5k. Seeing the Mind Over Marathon team face the ultimate challenge of finishing the London Marathon while recovering from a mental illness and being so open about their experience was inspirational.

When I returned to Cardiff I entered Cardiff Half Marathon as part of the Cardiff and Vale UHB Health Charity team raising money for the Hafan Y Coed Mental Health Unit. Considering I’d only run for 20 minutes non-stop once this was a bit of a challenge. I was struggling to find the motivation to run in the evening and by July I still hadn’t got up to 5K. I saw an advert on Twitter for Les Croupiers Running Club Croups off the Couch 5K plus and decided to join this.

8th July 2017

The day before my 47th birthday I ran 5K non stop for the first time at Cardiff Parkrun in 37:54. The experienced Les Croupiers running club members ran with us and I was amazed how talking while running made me forget the pain and enjoy running even more. The 5k plus group met three times a week over the summer, gradually building up the distance we ran to 10K. When I joined the group I’d decided to be open about why I started running and was surprised by how many people shared their story of mental illness while I was running with them. I’m not a natural runner and had resisted running for years but I could feel the benefit of running and talking about my experience on my depression recovery. With the encouragement of the Les Croupiers RC members I got my Parkrun PB down to 34:15 and I was hooked.

I was tweeting using #365daysofselfcare and regularly posted about my runs and how beneficial they were to my mental health.

3rd September 2017 Cardiff 10K

I joined almost 6000 people to run 10K around the beautiful city of Cardiff. I’d only ran 10K once before and that was with an experience runner encouraging me. As most of the 5K plus group were faster than me I ran round on my own. But I talked to fellow runners and was encouraged by the spectators. I managed to run all the way round and was so proud to finish in 1:15:26.

1st October 2017 Cardiff Half Marathon

My training between the 10K and half marathon didn’t go well as I suffered from a recurrence of depression as the evenings got darker. I found it impossible to get out of bed on a Saturday morning in time for Parkrun and probably only ran 5 times in September and the furthest I ran with 5 miles. But I was determined to take part in the Half Marathon. I asked some experienced runners for advice about how I should approach the race as I’d only ran 10K twice. I decided to run the first 5K and then walk/run the remainder. I was extremely nervous in the run up to the race and felt my anxiety levels building and considered injuring myself so I couldn’t run. But I made it to the start line by the iconic Cardiff Castle with 25,000 other runners. The atmosphere was incredible and I couldn’t believe how many people came out to cheer the runners on. I stuck to my plan and ran the first 5K and then tried to walk for a few minutes and run for 15 mins for the rest of the race. I ran on my own again but talked to other competitors, especially those who were in #TeamHealthCharity. There were moments in the race when my legs were sore and I felt that I couldn’t carry on, but the crowd and the thought that I was raising money for others with mental illness kept me going. I was amazed that I completed 13.1 miles in 2:57:48, especially as I’d gone from non-runner to the half marathon in 9 months. When I crossed the finish line I said to my husband ‘Next time I’ll have done the training’!

Unfortunately after completing the half marathon my mood continued to decline and I lacked the motivation to go running. It was only during a holiday in Costa Rica, in December, when the light came back on and I felt happy again.

When we returned to Cardiff I saw a Facebook post advertising a #TeamHealthCharity Couch to 5K group. Although I had already run 10K I decided to run with the Couch to 5K group. I’d gained so much benefit from the help that experienced runners gave me while I was starting to run, I wanted to give something back by helping others discover how beneficial running is for the body and mind. I was very honest about how I started running to help my recovery from depression and a number of the group have shared their personal journey through mental illness with me.

In 2018 I’ve run Cardiff Parkrun on a regular basis and invited other runners (using Facebook) to join me for a run and chat, I’ve continued to run with the #TeamHealthCharity Couch to 5K group and helped encourage the next intake of Les Croupiers 5K plus group. I find running and especially social running helps control my depression.

I’m continuing to challenge myself and have entered 5 10K and 2 Half Marathon’s so far in 2018. I will be raising money for Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie, MIND, Pharmacist Support and Cardiff and Vale UHB Health Charity.

I don’t think I would have persevered with running and maintained my recovery from mental illness if I hadn’t watched Mind Over Marathon, so I am extremely grateful to the BBC, Heads Together, MIND, Nick Knowles, Georgie, Jake, Rhian and the rest of the Mind Over Marathon team.

I held on to life by my fingernails (written by Karen)

Wednesday 28th March 2018

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Karen for your openness in ‘take over 7’

I was first diagnosed with depression 16 years ago at age 13. I felt like I was in a cage with the bullies, my teachers, friends and parents all looking in and laughing at the stupid girl inside. I wore baggy clothes to try and hide myself and barely spoke at school to decrease the risk of me saying something stupid. I cried myself to sleep pretty much every night then woke up screaming with recurring anxiety dreams that were so vivid I didn’t know if I’d actually been awake or dreaming. Then I went to school and got humiliated in front of teachers and the class all over again to be told by my dad when I got home that I was making it all up.

I thought of dying a lot at this time. I still view staying alive as the most selfish thing I’ve ever done because I did it to spite everyone. I thought “you think you can treat me like this? you think I‘ll just go away?” I knew that was what they wanted so I held on to life by my fingernails.

Unfortunately you don’t just get over sexual assault and bullying because you are not in that situation any more, it leaves a numbness, a fear and an emptiness. After seven years of school with those boy’s it was hard to break the habit of being constantly in fight or flight mode. It was hard to trust my parents, or anyone else, again because they had failed before so they would probably do it again (and they have), this made me much more selfish which is something I’ve tried to correct recently.

The thing with depression is it never completely goes away, it lurks. You have to practice self care all the time, not just when depression smacks you in the face. It also doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re going through, how much money or how many friends you have, it will take you for its own regardless.

I went to the doctors age 26 after having panic attacks several times a day and randomly bursting into tears a lot. I didn’t understand what was wrong, I’d had the best year ever. I’d got engaged to my boyfriend, I’d recently qualified as a Samaritan and had passed my G.C.S.E psychology with flying colours. I had loads of great friends, a busy social life, a fantastic relationship with my fiancé, my sister and even my parents. Yet the doctor told me I had generalized anxiety.

It’s so tiring not sleeping because your mind won’t shut up. Then when it does you wake up with another anxiety dream. Then getting up for work and spending all day on your feet pretending you’re fine while ending up in the toilets with your friend having another panic attack, only to be told by a manager you need to stop going off the shop floor. It felt like there were weights on my arms, legs and heart, the latter also felt like it was scrunched up into a tight ball constantly. It was impossible to relax, I couldn’t read more than a couple of pages of a book, I’d realise someone was talking to me but couldn’t remember what it was about because my concentration was so bad.

I was juggling a million balls and dropping them all which made me feel like a failure, why was I unable to live life like everyone else? They all managed to hold down a full time job and a family so why couldn’t I?

Looking back this is clearly how my anxiety got accompanied by depression. I was doing too much and not looking after myself. The doctor took the decision out of my hands and signed me off work. I was still being stubborn and went back full time after a month, but everything just started all over again.

I cut down my hours and changed jobs which made me feel incredibly guilty because the lessening of money would affect my fiancé since we lived together. I felt useless sitting at home while he was working hard, doing over time at weekends. I kept trying to push myself to do more hours but I was having panic attacks still and the guilt made the tears come more frequently.

Sometimes the frustration and anger I felt at myself was unforgiving and then other times there was just nothing. My mum would come around and we would go for a walk and I would see the trees, birds, the lake but feel nothing. It was like I was looking down at my body from somewhere else, I had no connection to it at all.

Having had depression before it definitely made me more scared of it being that bad again but I learnt a lot from that first time to help me cope. For starters I’d surrounded myself with amazing people especially my husband and sister but also my friends and even my parents at times. I’d also read a lot about depression since my teenage years so understood what I was up against, and because of years of counselling was able to communicate with people better so they could try and help me.

I ended up staying on anti-depressants for 6 years. I still only work 16 hours but I started writing a blog, then two books and now have an Instagram account. Luck was also on our side as my husband got two promotions in quick succession which took off some of the financial pressure.

I am still scared of depression, you never know which time will be the last time but that just makes me want to do the best I can to be happy now, yes I still battle with my demon’s on a regular basis, sometimes I still find it hard to get out of bed, but there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel and it is very bright.

Anxiety is a Liar (written by EL)

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**
Thank you EL for your openness in ‘take over 6’

Before generalized anxiety disorder, the word anxiety was not in my vocabulary. I don’t even think I had ever used the word to describe how I felt about anything. I would not have been able to tell you what anxiety was, if you had asked me. I had never had a panic attack. I would not have even recognised one if I saw it happening to someone else.

After an operation that went wrong, anxiety and all that was associated with it became my whole life. I have never been an overly emotional person, but anxiety literally broke me down into a ball of emotions. Literally overnight, tasks that I once carried out without a second thought became difficult, my daily routine was suddenly so hard, and I struggled with life. Sometimes I did not make it through my working day without a panic attack. Sometimes I did not make it to work at all. It would take me three hours to leave the house on the weekend. The panic attacks were dreadful, but the constant anxiety I felt was just as bad. I was never relaxed. I couldn’t sleep. And I was constantly worried about everything.

At my lowest point I have felt suicidal. The sheer mental pain of feeling anxious and not being able to deal with it or fight it off is like nothing you can ever imagine, unless you have been through it. I was so overcome with fear, I felt like the anxiety would either kill me or I would have to commit suicide.

During my wait for CBT, I had counselling and read up on anything anxiety related to try and combat it. I owe my life to the gym; I believed going there saved my life. The routine of getting out of the house and working out daily, helped me to feel good. I was able to block out all the negative feelings and replace them with the good feelings I gained whilst working out. I had days where it took me an hour to get inside the building or I would have a panic attack half way through my work out, but I kept going. And I pushed myself to go back every day.

I read all the books I could about people who suffered with mental illness and got well again. I prayed, I meditated, and I breathed through it all. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

What I have learned from my mental illness is that anxiety is a liar. And you do not have to listen to it. You can fight it. You can overcome it. I am living proof of that.

 

WOW

Tuesday 27th March 2018 1.52pm

I am sat here in Coffee #1 reading through another 6 blogs which I have been sent for my ‘blog takeover’ series. I seriously cannot believe the response which I have had in relation to this. The fact that people have openly and honestly put their lives and stories out there for people to read is truly remarkable. People say that I inspire them, but I have been inspired and emotionally moved by what those who have written have gone through.

My idea behind this series was to encourage people to write, to share and to smash away existing stigma and barriers around mental health. Thanks to those of you who have shared and to those of you who have taken the time to read. It really means a lot. If this helps one person to seek help or to talk then it has been worthwhile. I know that all of these blogs are relatable, whether you are suffering from depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, or any other form of mental illness.

The series will continue for another week or more. This does not mean that it is the end of this idea. I want to keep this going. I want this to be an interactive site where we can all still share, talk and encourage each other.

Please keep sending me your journeys. I am new to all of this so if there is anything you think I can develop let me know. I have ideas for a different type of ‘series’ but I really want to keep this going.

Thanks again xx

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.. (written by Sophie)

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I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Sophie for your openness in ‘take over 5’

Years later, my husband said that it was like a black cloud had just descended into the room. No light, no joy. Imagine that after giving birth your first child. The baby was crying and I remember thinking he didn’t like me. I remember holding him in my arms and a thought that shook me to my core popped in my head; “I’m going to hurt you”. I struggled to look at him, to hold him and, as much as it hurts me to write now, to love him. I broke down to one of the doctors in the hospital, who contacted the mental health team in the hospital and told my husband. I ended up being moved to the children’s ward and put in my own room but this just filled me with anxiety and panic being left with my baby on my own. They moved my baby to a separate room and the nurses bottle fed him. You might think “oh she didn’t want her baby” or “she doesn’t deserve to be a mum”. The truth is I had a happy, planned pregnancy with a loving partner. Post-natal depression hit me and hit me hard. I was scared, ashamed, confused, felt guilty and in pain; emotional, physical pain. I had counselling, and very slowly things got a bit better. I refused anti-depressants because of the shame and the stigma attached to taking them. At the time, I saw them as a weakness and as a means of being labelled seriously mentally ill, which I didn’t want to be, even though I really was.

Two and a half years later we had our second child. The birth was so different, I felt happy afterwards. Six months later I tried to kill myself. Everything was ok to start with, then gradually negative thoughts started to creep in. I was so desperate to not be ill again, to be a good mummy, that any negative or dark thoughts I kept to myself. I buried how I was feeling deep, deep down, I hid how I really was from everyone and functioned on a physical level like a robot. The post-natal depression dug in, held on, my abnormal thoughts became my new “normal” and were constantly there, the exhaustion and pain of hiding how I really was became too much. You see that’s what depression does. it tricks you, it lies to you, and destroys the real you until there is nothing left to give and no light at the end of the tunnel, just a black abyss. As I sat giving my baby a cuddle at bedtime after bedtime, silent tears would stream down my face and plans formulated to end my own life. This was my illness talking.

Literally a week before I had planned to commit suicide I was at a friends wedding with my husband. Pretending, pretending and pretending. My dearest friends were there and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them again after that. So I laughed with them, I danced with them, I hugged them and I told them I loved them. In a way, I was saying goodbye and I wanted them to remember me as a happy person. You might think that’s silly or selfish but again that’s what depression does; all logical thinking is replaced by this illness. I carried the plan out on November 5th 2014, a few days after my eldest’ third birthday. (That is extremely hard to write). I wont go into details but I was lucky enough to be saved by a retired doctor. The second time I begged for anti-depressants. I took all the help I could get.

Now I look after myself everyday, with exercise, healthy food, fresh air, medication, writing, talking, giving, being kind to myself and the people I love. I am extremely mindful of my thoughts and don’t hold on to negative ones. Thoughts are just that, thoughts. Acknowledge them then let them go, they are not you. I am so so much better than I was and have the tools to manage any signs of my depression. I still worry about the impact my post-natal depression has had on my husband and possible impact on my children. We have moved on. I have forgiven myself but depression will always be a part of me and I’ll never forget.

Like I said….I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…

 

Anxiety has no boundaries (written by Christina)

BLOG TAKE OVER

I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required**

Thank you Christina for your openness in ‘take over 4’

Last year I sat down one evening and watched a programme called ‘Mind Over Marathon’. The programme was amazing, inspirational, moving and has lead to me, yes me, running the London Marathon this year. I also discovered Georgie’s page on Instagram and followed her which is why I am sat writing this.

When I started running a few years ago I didn’t realise that not only would it help my physical strength but also help me to tackle some issues in my head. Mental Health is something that I have always been aware of in others, friends and family, but never something that I thought would touch me. Before I had my children I was the logical one, with a much more masculine mindset than many of my friends or female family members. When I first started suffering with anxiety it was a huge shock. How could I be behaving in such an illogical manner and being so emotional? I was the LOGICAL one! However, mental health has no boundaries and doesn’t discriminate, it can effect any one of us at any time.

It turns out that I suffer from Anxiety. I had a traumatic pregnancy and birth with my youngest child. I suffered the loss of three of my grandparents in 6 months. I was consumed by it. I could see accidents happening everywhere to everyone I loved. If my husband was a few minutes late home, I would cry and shake, believing that he had been in a accident and died. The park, once a place of fun and laughter for my children, was now a death trap, a place waiting to cause harm or death to my children.

The day I realised I needed some help was when I had my first ‘vision’ where I ‘saw’ (in my head only) my son falling down some escalators. I had never experienced this before, but the vision was incredibly real and stopped me in my tracks.

After talking to a great friend whilst on a run, and my brother who is a mental health nurse, I realised I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. They made me see that by being honest about how I was feeling and talking about it was the only way forward. I went to the GP and got some fantastic advice. I was referred for Talking Therapy, counselling and CBT. I was also advised to keep active and keep running.

After an eight week course of CBT, some sessions with a counsellor, lots of support from my family and friends my anxiety has improved.

Sometimes I think I have a complete hold on it. Sometimes not, but that is ok. I have learnt about my triggers. Tiredness, emotional stress, alcohol, overload of social media are some of them. Equally and as importantly, I have learnt what helps me when I do feel anxious. Fresh air, family time, my dog (one of the biggest stress relievers ever) and running are all so positive in my battle against anxiety.

If I could give anyone some helpful advice regarding mental health, it would be to talk to anyone you think might help. Be honest at all times about how you are feeling. So many people are fighting these battles and we know nothing about it without sharing first. Surround yourself with what makes you feel better and by people you love. This is a fight we can all win.

Hiding behind the Laugh (written by Guy)

BLOG TAKE OVER

I am so glad that I have opened up my blog for you to contribute. Writing has helped me massively with my mental health and this gives others the opportunity to write and share their journey from a different perspective. I am truly inspired and encouraged by what I have read. I have no doubt you will too.

**Please remember local and national support services are available if help is required** 

Thank you Guy for your openness in ‘take over 3’

This is me, stripped of the armour and the mask that I put on every day to face the world. Stripped of all of things that outwardly make me, me.

The bravado, the laugh and the big show of confidence, silent.

If you asked those who know me to ‘describe Guy’, most would at some point mention my laugh – it is a ridiculously loud (like really, really loud) belly laugh that fills a room. At a company management training session a year or so ago we were asked to share something about ourselves that no one else in the room knew. This is what I shared;

“Everyone knows me for my laugh, sometimes people call it fake and I guess in someway it is. I suffered from depression for the most part of my 20’s. As a way to deal with it, I created a mask to hide behind so no one would know I was hurting. I wanted to be and appear to be happy and so I created the laugh. I got the help I needed but the laugh stayed and I guess like the depression it’s just part of who I am now”.

As I said, in my late teens I found myself struggling, struggling to be at ease with myself, my body and my place in the world. I lacked confidence and I was wracked with self-doubt, insecurity and anxiety. I didn’t know what I was feeling or why and as such I didn’t know how to talk about it. I simply learnt to bury and hide it. I forced myself to be an extrovert, a clown, an optimist and the life of the party to prove to everyone I was ok. I hoped I would simply become ok as a result, but being something I was not was killing me. I felt like I was moving through water and on the worst days I felt engulfed by feelings of hate, anger, frustration, disappointment and a deep hurt that made it hard to breath. I survived that way for a long time. Alcohol ‘helped’, it became a crutch and I used it to obliterate all of the nasty internal voices and thoughts. The problem with alcohol is the next day – the hangover and the feelings of regret, shame and so you end up repeating the cycle to the point where its not longer a crutch.

I needed help and I just couldn’t ask for it – I knew I wanted and needed it but I just couldn’t ask. I know this is a strange a thing to say, and it is, but depression created a cloudy bubble and I couldn’t see out of it.

For years I suffered and buried all of that blackness deeper and deeper inside. One day, drunk and at a low ebb, I crashed. My life got to the point where I stood at the edge of something and I could only see one path laid out in front of me. But I am lucky, my lowest point was the point at which I was caught, pulled back from that edge and was forced, and if I am honest, shamed in to getting the help I so desperately needed.

Fingers weren’t clicked and things didn’t magically change, it took time and it was hard. But I wanted to change and that I think is the most important thing. I will be forever grateful to the NHS and to Bournemouth University, for the individuals who were there for me at my lowest point. The people who gave me the tools and the confidence to change.

Please, do not underestimate the power of a conversation. Counselling. Having someone with whom I could entrust all of the bleurgh to, helped me so much. Looking back, had I had a conversation earlier with someone I loved I may never have got so low. Who knows.

Back to my laugh – I am who I am because of depression – I am stronger, more self-aware and more confident. I haven’t beaten it but I have learnt to live with my ‘black dog’, so I know the low days and I can manage them. I don’t regret or begrudge my journey because in my heart I know that when I laugh, its for the right reason.

Its not easy, but remember that I am here if you ever want to talk. Guy x