Today is World Mental Health Day and it’s a day where people are encouraged to be open and forthcoming about their struggles with, obviously, Mental Health.
It’s a day where a spotlight is shined on something that many people struggle with yet few have the courage to openly speak about and thankfully, as time goes on, more and more people are opening up about the challenges they deal with.
Being on top of your mental game is pretty important in life. For us at D-Toxd, it’s where all health begins and finding that inside out balance is something that we are truly passionate about.
We all have good days and bad days. We all have moments when the daily grind gets to us and we feel down, beaten up by the world we live in and pretty shit.
We all go through situations that really get to us – the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, disagreements with close friends – and these can lead to a period of questioning. A period where we doubt ourselves. A period where we can feel “out of sorts” for a while.
Sometimes, talking to close friends, or professionals, makes a difference. Other times, having a break and getting some rest helps. Thinking of things that you’re truly thankful for, and getting outdoors, shifts your mood and helps you feel a lot better.
But what happens when, for simply no reason at all, you struggle? You wake up and, for no reason at all, your body seems completely empty despite getting to be early and sleeping OK. Your mind if filled with doubts, questions, over bearing thoughts and “voices” pulling you down that you just can’t seem to switch off or ignore.
You feel numb and then, the next minute, your emotions are all over the place and tears are rolling from your eyes. The noises from the world outside make your heart beat a little bit faster. You try and string a few words together yet nothing makes sense so you don’t say anything. You have everything to be thankful for, yet no matter how hard you look, everything seems dark and cloudy and a weight of “what’s the point” hangs over you.
You look in the mirror, try and smile and all you see looking back at you is deep, deep pain and emptiness and sadness that you just can’t seem to shake. On the outside, everything looks fine.
You’re healthy. You have a wonderful home. You have friends and family who care for you. You have a job or business you are passionate about. You have food in the fridge and treats in the cupboard.
Yet all you feel like doing is curling up into a tiny, little ball and hiding far, far, far away from everyone, hoping and praying that this will be the last time you ever feel like that.
Hoping and praying for a day when you wake up in silence rather than deafening violence inside that nobody except you can hear – and that nobody can control.
Hoping and praying that, for another day, the smile you wear does the trick and covers up what is really going on.
Hoping and praying that you “survive” the next 24 hours without too much hassle.
The sad thing about it is that this happens to so many, many people around the world, each and every day, who are (for their own reasons) afraid to say something about it.
In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female. Thankfully, that figure is slowly decreasing over time as more and more awareness is raised but the scary reality is that, in the UK, 12 men and 4 women take their own lives every single day.
On Saturday evening, I got into bed. I was feeling OK – granted, I was a little bit tired as we have been working on a number of things over the past few weeks that have taken up a lot of time and energy. So naturally, it would be right to be tired.
I woke up yesterday morning and, for no reason at all, felt terrible. I had no energy. My body ached. My head was violently noisy. And for no reason at all, I was extremely emotional.
It was frustrating. I had made a few plans and there were a few personal things I wanted to attend to – things that had nothing to do with work or anything but just simple pleasures.
It was as if I had had all of the life sucked out of me and it had been replaced with a wide variety of emotions and feelings, all of which left me confused and dazed.
You see, depression (and any mental health challenge) can strike at any time. Things don’t have to be stressful and challenging for them to come about. Yes, granted, stress may have originally led to a bout of depression or break down but sometimes, these things happen for no reason at all.
In those times, for people who have a genuine chemical imbalance, it can be tough and frustrating.
I have lived with this most of my life and there are days, like I have spoken about in the past, where it gets the better of me.
But as time goes on, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the things that take place. I am realizing that this may never, ever, ever leave me and I am slowly but surely becoming OK with that.
It makes it easier to deal with. It makes it easier to handle. It makes it easier to tell myself that I am not crazy and that my normal is just different to your normal – whatever normal is.
My mental health does NOT define me even though, when the bad times come, it feels like that is all I am – a broken, unstable person who can’t do anything right.
That may sound extreme but that is the reality of it.
That is what really happens inside of you. Like it did to me yesterday – I haven’t cried that much for a very, very long time but I just told myself that it was OK to no be OK so I took my dog for a walk, got back into bed and switched the world off for 24 hours. I told someone who cares about me that I was not feeling OK but that I was OK – something I would not do in the past – and I just let the world go on around me.
Today, I feel a bit better. My body still aches and my head is still noisy but I can operate in the world.
Nobody would know if they looked at me. Nobody would point fingers or silently say to themselves “look at that” like we all have done in the past when we have seen someone with an obvious injury, illness of physical disability.
That’s why, for us, World Mental Health Day is a good thing.
Even if we don’t speak up, it helps people dealing with this to realize that it’s OK, to know that there are people out there who understand and won’t just say “chin up and keep going” or “smile, there is so much to be thankful for.”
And for me, it helps me realize that the only person who doesn’t take myself seriously is ME. The only person who doubts my ability to help people is ME. And more importantly, the only person I have to prove myself to is ME.
I got through yesterday. I lived to tell the tale.
The sad thing is, many people didn’t because they didn’t know how to deal with their challenges.
Maybe today, just ONE of those people will read this and make a different choice.
If you, or any you know, are struggling right now, reach out to someone. There are many organisation out there who can help, even if it is just to have someone to talk to. And if you want a chat, know that we are ALWAYS here – we know what it is like in that dark place, we’re taken there often and we know that there are ways to live with it.