I never wanted to be one of those people I see so frequently on my newsfeed. The kind who post ALL the time about the same thing, like a message they want to spread or a cause they feel passionately about. And yet it looks as if I may be becoming just that! The truth is, so many people with mental health problems are talking about it now that I almost feel stigmatised in a different way, like now I am one of those people who’s sole purpose in life is to spread the word, ‘end the stigma’ and educate people. As much as I do enjoy reading other people’s stories and get some comfort from them, I also know how annoying it is to see my Facebook newsfeed cluttered by people trying to sell their opinions, not that understanding mental health is an opinion, but I feel it is being forced upon people and in an effort to rid sufferers of one stigma, it is just pushing us into another as the annoying kind who always want to tell people the deepest, darkest feelings we are experiencing on a day to day basis and share our ‘sob’ stories. Having said all of this, here I am, writing this blog post and about to share thoughts and feelings which really, nobody needs to know. But it helps me, writing has become a very therapeutic thing for me and unfortunately despite it having been almost 1 year since my initial blog post about all things mental, I still have no other way to share things with people as I just really suck at talking!
I have recently started attempting CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) however due to my unwillingness and inability to access counselling or therapy, I am attempting this via a book. Shock horror, me reading a book at all is like major news!! The reason I am mentioning this is because I have only read 2 chapters of the book and have already been left pondering over the past 21 years of my life! This may sound scarily philosophical but honestly, I don’t feel like that and am simply treating this recent self exploration as scientific research. Apparently mental health isn’t all chemical, I had led myself to believe that the anxiety and depressed feelings I experience were all down to a chemical imbalance in my brain which I can do nothing about and was simply something I was born with. However there is little scientific proof of this. In fact it appears that perhaps my brain is wired a little differently, but it is environmental factors which have triggered it to react the way it has and develop unnecessary anxieties and fall into depression. Now how on earth do I figure out what caused this!? Last night I was watching a TV programme where a psychotherapist claimed that receiving a diagnosis or a label was one of the worst things a person with a mental health problem could do. Her reasons for this were that the minute you are given a diagnosis you feel like it is an illness, something which can never go away and you simply have to find coping mechanisms and medication to manage the illness. This however means that you stop exploring why you could be feeling like this. She was carrying out a study on 2 people who suffered with Bipolar Disorder and concluded that one had been bullied very badly as a child and it seemed as though every time he was in a depressive state he was actually reliving the bullying therefore feeling the negative thoughts which that past action once instilled in him, and the other was an obsessive ‘winner’, he always had to be number one and this had massively affected his ability to cope with everyday life triggering his manic or depressive states depending on his social standing at the time. The truth is neither of these findings help me in the slightest, but it was interesting to note that perhaps if I could unlock where this all started, I would maybe be able to start tackling it from the root of the problem rather than simply masking the symptoms with medication.
As I mentioned it has been almost a year (10 months in fact) since I first started on anti-depressants and I am still on them. I recently went to the doctors and after a very brief conversation about how I was, in which she seemed very uninterested, it was decided that I shouldn’t come off of them and that I would get another 4 months worth to ‘experiment’ with, changing my doses as and when I wanted. Now I am no doctor but I am pretty sure telling any patient to experiment with their medication and take their health into their own hands is risky business! Luckily I feel pretty stable at the moment and as if I know what works and doesn’t work for me, but at the same time, the thought of any small thing changing and me spiralling back to how I was this time last year terrifies me and honestly I don’t think I would have the courage to come back out of it again! Right now, I feel like I am stuck in the middle between cured and square one, literally unable to go either way! Whilst I feel miles better and rarely have a bad day now in comparison to this time last year, I also only feel like I am coping, rather than continuing to get better. Without the help of a caring doctor like the one I first spoke with in Lancaster, I am finding it hard to believe that I can move on from my current status without figuring out what caused it in the first place. The thought of coming off of my medication scares the life out of me because I feel like I will fall back to square one, but I also know that things can still be better than they are right now, I just don’t know how to get there! Truth is I don’t think the medication is going to get me there so maybe some soul searching will help?
I wish I could blame bullying for everything…that seems to be most people’s answer but I wasn’t bullied. The only real trauma I can remember from my childhood is the many divorces and near divorces I have been through. I wish I could blame those, certain family members and my constant travel as a child…but actually, something I finally realised last night was that this all started when I was about 12. Before the turbulent divorces and family dramas. I was always a really bubbly kid, just like I still am, but I vividly remember being sat in my room on MSN (yep remember that thing!) night after night, head in hands just waiting for people to talk to me. When people weren’t online I used to be paranoid that they had blocked me and would set up fake accounts just to check they were actually offline. That is not normal! I would sit at my desk feeling miserable and lonely almost every night of the week, even though I was speaking to friends and had my parents in the house with me! During secondary school there was a girl in my year group who suffered very badly from anorexia. She got painfully thin and went away for treatment 3 times throughout our 7 years at that school. I remember people worrying about her and checking she was okay and I used to wish that I could have something wrong with me or something bad happen to me to give me a reason to be miserable and for people to care about me. That makes me sad just thinking of my younger self like that! I had NO idea that I was depressed, I don’t think I even really knew that I was miserable or sad, I just know that there were times I used to wish I was that anorexic girl, I used to think about something happening to someone I knew and how this would give me a reason to be sad and feel the feelings I was currently trying to hide. I wouldn’t have to tell people, they would just know and look after me… that is not right!
Beyond that soul searching I haven’t got any further with my quest to pick my past apart and figure out what happened to my little fragile brain but lucky for me I have roughly 70 years of my life left to figure this all out..woohoo!
– Stay on medication?
– What caused me to be like this?
Answers: none yet.
Check back for another episode of ‘Siana writes her whole life publicly on the internet’ soon.