Linking up an old post in support of Mental Health Awareness Week
Andy’s recent post over at Taming The Black Dog led me to the Time To Change website, and I’m so pleased it did. These amazing folks are making excellent progress in changing attitudes towards the mental health issues that many of us suffer from. Their #TimeToTalk initiative has seen tens of thousands of people pledging their support. Please take a look at what they’re all about.
I’ve joined forces with the fab team over at Mama Baby Bliss today – check this out for details of what we’ll be doing throughout the day. There is also a blog hop at the end of this post, for anyone wishing to link up stories about their own experiences of mental health problems. I myself am no stranger to depression, and have had to live with it since my teenage years. I would like to share my story with you, and thank you in advance for reading.
I had what you would call ‘a difficult childhood’. My parents came from severely dysfunctional backgrounds and had children far too young without realising the damage that would be inflicted upon us. We moved house over a dozen times, and I went to eight different schools where I often endured bullying for being the new girl. I lived and breathed the poverty line, was lied to about all sorts and suffered abuse in various forms throughout my childhood. When I left home at 15 it was without money or a single qualification.
I lived life in self-destruct mode for many years to numb my pain. I’d go on all-weekend benders, and sleep with people I wouldn’t have even looked at when sober. I woke up to how toxic my family were and cut ties with them when I was 25. Although I now see that it was the best decision I could have made, it sent me to a very dark place. I crossed the line to the wrong side of partying and was completely out of control. When I hit rock bottom at the end of the darkness about two years later, it came with the realisation that I needed to change my ways. I worked hard to become a better person, one I actually liked and could stand looking at in the mirror. A decade later and I am now a happily married mother. I’m considered among my peers to be well rounded and dependable: a good wife, mum and friend.
Speaking purely from the perspective of a mother, I know that I would not have coped well with my children had I not fully dealt with my demons and put the past the rest before having them. I also know that I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without the support of my wonderful husband and amazing friends. I still have wobbly moments though, where life feels so over whelming I could suffocate under the weight of responsibility. When I need help nowadays I shout loud and ask for it. I don’t see this as a sign of weakness, quite the opposite.
Although I haven’t had it easy, my path was straight forward. Essentially I knew I had to do everything in my power to become stable before having kids, then ensure I did not repeat history once they were here. I strive each and every day to be the best mum I can possibly be, which makes me happy because it truly is the most I can do.
It’s not as straight forward a path for everyone though. Life may have thrown up over whelming challenges after becoming a parent – death, illness, infidelity, money troubles. Having a baby may bring all the negatives flooding back, triggering pre or post natal depression, or both. Getting passed those obstacles whilst looking after a baby can seem impossible. But there are a multitude of resources out there willing to help.
I have seen lots of friends go through depression over the years. Sometimes it’s been fixed with taking a step back from life, and toning things down – waiting for the black clouds to pass. Other times counselling has been needed, and in some cases medication. Whenever I spot a friend in trouble I always make it known that my door is open if they want to talk. If asked for my advice, it’s pretty much always the same…
– be honest with yourself, get to the root of your troubles and tackle them head on
– talk about your problems, don’t try and sweep them under the carpet
– reassess your inner circle, do the people you spend your time with have your best interests at heart?
– get professional help in whatever form makes you comfortable
– don’t beat yourself up over the things you have done, you can’t go back in time and change history
– be kind to yourself: eat well, exercise regularly
– visualise the person you want to be, and how you will become that person
– have faith that time will heal all wounds, no matter how raw or painful
– above all else, make peace with your past no matter how dark it is. Otherwise it will haunt you forever