Mental Health Doesn’t Have Rules

Welcome back to the Blog!

I’m sorry, I’m back on the topic of isolation and lockdown; I hope you’re not getting bored of reading about it but it’s pretty much all I can think or write about at the moment. I have a couple of other podcast/blog posts planned that aren’t around the subject of COVID-19, isolation/lockdown etc. but they’ll be out soon!

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been in lockdown with my household. My Husband and I bought a large home with his parents and younger sibling. It’s a beautiful house in rural Lancashire and one which my Husband and I would never have been able to afford by ourselves. It’s our dream home, and living with his family is pretty good. Plus it’s only a mile or so away from my parents house!

In the midst of lockdown I can only count my blessings and acknowledge that I have certain privileges with living here:

  1. I am not alone;
  2. I have a huge garden and field to use for frequent (not just once a day) exercise;
  3. I have my Husband here with me;
  4. I can still work from home;
  5. I don’t have any children;
  6. Our home is big enough to have space from others when we/I need it.

Just writing them down now, makes me feel like I have no right to struggle at the moment. I know of so many others that are alone, can’t work, have no outside spaces or are separated from their loved ones. I sat outside just now and talked to my Husband about my feelings; that I have no real reason to struggle with all of the above advantages but he managed to help me back on track.

Besides all the advantages and aids I have in helping with being in lockdown, I’m still struggling with my mental health. Mental illness doesn’t have rules. It doesn’t discriminate. It riles me up that there are still people who think that if someone has many things and joys in life that they don’t deserve to be depressed, or anxious or suffer with any mental health problems.

So, what have I been doing to try keep my mental health on an even keel? Honestly, I’ve been finding life difficult. I have had a few stressful moments and I’m teetering on the edge of a self-sabotaging head space. It’s hard but I’ve learned over the years to communicate these feelings to my Husband and loved ones. I don’t always share and that’s when I get into some dangerous and damaging cycles. But, for the most part, I’m good at letting him know where I am mentally.

I don’t suppose many of you out there will know what it’s like to be at war with yourself on a regular basis (that isn’t a brag…). Even being more open with my Husband has me chastising myself. I shouldn’t share that because it makes me look like I’m not “properly” mentally ill, like in films and TV. I should be alone in a room somewhere, isolated and cut off from loved ones with no support system or self awareness of what I do to myself.

But being like this hasn’t come easy. Or quickly. Not even a little bit. Being at the stage of recognising where my mental health might be going, in either direction, identifying thought patterns and inclinations towards certain behaviours has taken me a long, long time to be tuned in to. On top of that, it has taken me even longer to be able to communicate these things to my loved ones. Not only has it been hard figuring out just how to articulate my feelings, but having the nerve to go against every fibre of my body screaming at me to not open my mouth. To tell my Husband, my family, my friends, that I’m thinking and doing these things to myself. It has been one of the hardest things in the world to do, and it doesn’t get easier; every time I am in a spiral of self sabotage, paranoia, self-harming or anything, I have to fight my own mind in order to let anyone else know what’s going on. It’s really difficult.

So, having opened up and written that down, I hope that it’s plain to see that even with all the good things in life, the people, the jobs, the house, the outside space, mental illness can still be the biggest and scariest thing you have to deal with every single day. There is no one big cure for Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder or any other mental illnesses like that. We’ve almost all heard that “The only antidepressant you need is a walk outside” or “All you need to cure depression is a pair of running shoes and a clear day”. Pardon my language, but F@#K that noise. None of that is true nor helpful. In fact, if you truly believe that then you could potentially do so much more harm than good to anyone you know who has mental health problems. If you spout these beliefs on a regular basis and honestly believe mental illness isn’t real, that person or persons will secretly never be able to trust you. And that’s heartbreaking for them.

This week for my Podcast I had a conversation with my Husband about being in lockdown and how we’ve been coping. We talk about various things but mostly social distancing and the above mentioned issues with my mental health. But having an open and honest conversation with him about those things really put the fire back in me. I remembered the reason I started my podcast; to help fight the stigma surrounding mental health by talking about it. Often. Openly. Honestly and with both people who have had or do struggle with mental health problems and those who don’t.

I started my podcast nearly a year ago (June 2019) to not only share how I find using exercise and training helps me with my own mental health problems, but to be another voice out there talking about mental health. I wanted to open up about my own conflicts and battles with my mind. I am nobody special; a 30something married British woman living in Lancashire. I have no children, am vegetarian(ish) and like to read. There is nothing outstanding about me or my life, but I do have various mental health diagnoses and have to find a way to live my life, day-to-day with them. I am one of thousands here in the UK, but I have something that nearly everyone else has; a voice. and I want to use it to help eradicate the fear, uncertainty and prejudices that loom over most facets of Mental Health.

Which brings me to my closing comment and request. If there is anyone out there who wants to be a part of my mission, to help fight the stigma through conversation, please, please get in touch with me. I love having guests on my podcast and I feel it is imperative to carry on the conversation, if we ever want to live in a world where those of us who have mental health problems and diagnoses are not stigmatised or feared, we need to talk more.

Please feel free to get in contact with me, I always want to hear from people and, as I said before, I really want to have more guests on my podcast.

Stay safe out there.

This blog post is accompanied by a Podcast episode and Vlog. If you’d like to check them out please feel free:

Exercising Depression YouTube Channel

Exercising Depression Podcast on Spotify

Exercising Depression Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Exercising Depression Podcast on Google Podcasts

And available on many more podcast platforms – just search Exercising Depression Podcast.

Contact me!

Email: exercisingdepressionpodcast@gmail.com

Twitter: @EDepressionPod

Instagram: @ExercisingDepression_Podcast

 

 

These Uncertain Times: Isolation

Welcome back to the blog!

I am fully getting back into the swing of things with this blog and syncing it with my Exercising Depression podcast and YouTube channel.

I recently found an old blog of mine from, believe it or not, 10 years ago! In 2010 I started a blog for my musings and thought-recording, and it was adorable re-reading my old posts. There weren’t many, but one thing that made me reflect was one post I made about The Snow of 2010. It was a nationwide phenomenon that, not unlike one Coronavirus, occupied most thoughts, writings and conversations.

In reading back my post from ‘The Snow of 2010’ I realised how disconnected I was from my mental health. I wrote with such vivacity, colour and boisterous narrative; I miss that. I remember being that person; I was 23, living somewhere new and all I could see were fresh horizons and a new adventure. Little did I know that my time down there would be miserable, isolated and borderline suicidal.

My vlog and podcast episode this week were along the lines of isolation, uncertainty and mental illness. The isolation being the main focus. Now, I work from home, spend much of the day in my own company, with the odd interaction with my In-Laws, and wouldn’t change it for the world. I adore my job and the opportunity to work in my own home; it can get a bit monotonous and lonely at times but these tend to be short lived. The pluses always far outweigh any negatives I encounter.  It’s the loss of being able to leave my home that is proving the real difficulty for me. I am a social person, I like to be outside, meeting people and being part of a community; be it church, the gym, my own family outside of my house or the local pubs. These are what give me real joy and purpose outside of working.

The aforementioned previous blog is linked to this, I promise. And here it is; my supposed carefree writing and view of my world was insincere. I have a terrible memory at the best of times so it’s hard for me to recall most details of every-day life when I lived in Pitstone, but reading my few blog posts from that time has really let me back into my own mind. I lived in a sort of blissful, self-inflicted ignorance. I knew I got sad sometimes but I largely ignored it. I never imagined that I would end up being medicated, out the other side of many therapies (with varied results) and with official diagnoses.

I write of living in a small village during a long period of snow:

“…clad in what can only be described as Tanks in Boot Form, leopard-print coat, two scarves, two pairs of gloves, floppy hat and ear muffs, I wandered to the shops. I am always delighted when walking through my village as, no matter what you look like, whether you have two heads and a toilet brush stuck to your shoe, you’re always guaranteed a pleasant smile and sincere greeting…”

As whimsical as this paragraph seems, I remember feeling isolated, alone and hopeless. I recall hating where I lived and its distance from anywhere I could interact with people and be myself. So why did I write as though I were happy? I can only put it down to the aforementioned disconnect from my mental health. I was in the throes of an (unrealised) eating disorder and thought of harming myself as you would about getting a new toothbrush. This was just my reality, but I didn’t see it as problematic. I didn’t want to not hate food, and antidepressants were the furthest thing from my mind.

Which brings me to today and my most recent podcast episode and vlog. I am very much connected to and understand my mental health problems. These things affect me every day and have an influence on almost every decision I make, activity I perform or plan I make. Is this connection to my mental health…healthy? I have automatically thought through the next few weeks or months in terms of my mental health and how it will impact my life and mind. Should I be more distant from instinctively thinking like that? I know I certainly find reading my blog posts from 2010 much more enjoyable than the narratives I share on my podcast and vlogs (and now blog posts).

Maybe this is just how I was meant to grow as a person. I must admit, keeping my mental health problems in the forefront of my mind has crippled me at times, but in others it’s made certain achievements that much bigger. I genuinely don’t know what to think.

But enough now, please feel free to check out the podcast and YouTube channel to check out how I feel I am going to cope in the next few weeks and months; this blog post is more of an extention of my thoughts and a reflecton after finding my old blog. I will certainly share more from that old blog in coming posts, I hope you enjoy them!

 

Thanks everyone,

Claire

Exercising Depression YouTube Channel

Exercising Depression Podcast on Spotify

Exercising Depression Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Exercising Depression Podcast on Google Podcasts

And available on many more podcast platforms just search Exercising Depression Podcast