Two boys pose in a tiger photo booth. There is a painted picture of a tiger with two holes cut out for their faces to go through. The post is about my experience with mental health. Are you ok? Don't be afraid to seek help no matter how scary it feels. The world is a better place with you in it.

Are You Ok ?

How many of you have been vocal in promoting mental health? It’s such an important topic at the moment and there is so much support available now more than ever. There are so many charities and services to offer support to people and we are listening more than ever. It is such an important subject and it affects everyone at some time in their life. But are we speaking up or are we still scared of the stigma and afraid to ask for help.

I would like to feel I am supportive to my friends when needed and they know I will be there if the need help. We have all seen and posted on social media the positive message “I am here if you need me”. But how many of you are looking after yourself and saying ‘I need you’. It’s so easy to brush off feelings and not recognize signs that your mental health is actually in need of some of that help.

There are many options to ask for help and they are really accessible, family or friends, medical professionals such as your GP and charities like MIND. But sometimes we don’t think to ask for help. We tell ourselves we can manage, there isn’t a problem or I’ll snap out of it. The signs are not always obvious and are much harder to spot when you are constantly in that frame of mind. The outside does not always reflect the inside. Are you putting on a brave face?

I like to think that I am open and honest and I am definitely like an open book, my face normally displays all my secrets. But there have been two times in my life that have been serious for me and my mental health and no one would of known. One was close to becoming serious and I was in a very dark place. To other people it was completely unnoticeable. You wouldn’t of known that my self worth was none existent that I was lost, afraid and sometimes I thought the world would be better off without me. It wasn’t me who noticed I needed help. I was lucky and Mike noticed that I was in trouble. Although surrounded by help and advice I struggled to find the courage to ask for it.

One thing about me is I am stubborn and hate asking for help, I refuse to admit defeat. Once again Mike was there to push me to seek help in his polite none threatening way. He worked at the University I was studying at and he knew the therapy services that they could provide. I was entitled to counselling being a student at the time. This was a huge struggle to take that first step and the counsellor decided I needed weekly sessions over those months. It was hard and it was exhausting. I was ashamed of all my feelings and how I felt, what if she confirms all my worst fears and feelings are true. She was nothing but amazing and by the end of the sessions I felt like an enormous weight had be lifted off my chest and that the world seemed like a better place to be and I did belong in it.

I am open that I had counselling and will always recommend it. Sometimes saying the reason why I went is much harder and I still find it hard to talk about. But I have realised it is a situation that will never change but I now know how to deal with all the emotions that come with it.

Recently I have had to deal with a whole new issue – anxiety. I never realized that I have always been an anxious person as it hasn’t bothered me or affected too much of my life. I’m too stubborn remember. Now I recognize my anxiety and what that means and I see all the times it has been present in my life . Like when I was 8 and went to the zoo on a school trip but I packed an emergency first aid kit and a candle in case there was a power cut. Very dramatic but to me it was a possible issue so I best be prepared. Spoiler, I survived and was absolutely fine, no candle required. Still now I plan every eventuality but I have never felt I needed help or that I couldn’t talk or laugh about it. Knowing that I was being ridiculous and I managed it without even realizing I had a problem.

Then when me moved house and something changed. I was fine for a few months and then I started having panic attacks. It started all of a sudden and surged out of control. One night I woke up from a nightmare of me and the boys being attacked by tigers in a variety of scenarios until I woke up. I was sweating, panicked, rapid heart beat and I couldn’t sleep again. My brain knew it was a ridiculous notion. We live in the northwest of England in the countryside, a tiger attack is highly unlikely. The mum in me knew I would never be able to protect them but that it would likely never happen. I tried to rationalise but the deep panic lodged in my chest would not go away.

Then I started panicking about intruders. I have never been robbed or had any sort of issue regarding our home so I’m unaware of how this started. I would be wide awake and unable to sleep until I was fully exhausted about 3am every night for months. My routine started changing, creating rituals to reduce my worry. Checking the doors are locked before bed, leaving the curtains open to see the sensored lights outside and standing on the landing listening for noise for long periods of time. It didn’t help and they got worse. I would calm down from one episode and it would be triggered again by the slightest noise minutes later.

The thing is I knew it was ridiculous and I read facts on burglaries to reduce my worry. That didn’t mean that my heart wouldn’t beat so loud that I couldn’t hear anything else or my breathing would become difficult I could catch a breath. I would surge with adrenaline in fight or flight mode and want to vomit. No amount of reasoning, logic or meditation could help. Still it took months of me not sleeping and driving Mike up the wall to seek help. Why? Because it took me so long to admit defeat and that no I couldn’t do this by myself. I needed help.

Once again I was worried the person I asked would laugh at me or brush me off. I booked an appointment with my GP and the nerves were awful. The GP was amazing. We talked and discussed what was happening, the whole tiger attack was very amusing to tell. She asked me what did I want to do and I was honest. I have no idea what to do but I didn’t think it would be solved with therapy but what else can I do. Luckily she agreed that it wasn’t my own thoughts this time but my body causing the issues. My adrenaline was sky rocketing and sensitive to triggers. I always thought I would be against talking medication for mental health, that’s only for serious illness, that I could handle it myself. Wrong! A prescription and a few doses later a was able to sleep. I still kept my night time bad habits for a few weeks but they are none existent now, except checking the doors that’s just sensible.

So I’ll ask again. Are you ok? Are you sure the people closest to you are ok? Sometimes we can’t see it and it isn’t always obvious so let’s ask the people we care about “are you ok?” and really mean it. If you think you need help please do not be scared or ashamed and if you want to talk I understand how hard it is. Just remember the world is better because you are in it.

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March 22, 2021 at 10:38 pm

So honest as always, a brave abs caring piece which I’m sure will help many. Love reading your blog Jenny xx

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Updated Hanging Branch

March 25, 2021