The next time you hear or read someone say ‘Are you mentally ill?’ in a derogatory tone then that might be a good time to remind them that absolutely everyone has mental health. The only difference is that some people have good mental health and some people have bad mental health. It only takes one small issue to change from good mental health to poor mental health. One instant, small or big.
I’ve spoken about my Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) before on numerous occasions and, more recently, I have been able to open up about it more at work. I’ve been able to say ‘when I had a breakdown’ and share experiences of it. I kept a journal through that time and, although I feel I should never read it…maybe I should. Maybe I should even write about it to share my experiences.
In the past I have been told ‘I suffer anxiety as well but I don’t write about it all over the Internet’ but I pointed out it’s my choice. Whether I write about it here, on Facebook or Twitter or wherever, it is entirely my choice to write about it and entirely your choice as the reader to read. No one forces a person to click on a link. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t share your experience. If it helps you, then I would share. I would certainly recommend it.
I recently had a bad spell again and I was convinced I was going to have a breakdown. Well, another breakdown. All the signs were there, though this time I could spot them. I knew what was coming. The good thing is, I spotted them and I was able to talk about them. This helped more than anything else. This helped keep me strong.
That’s not to say I didn’t go through some hellish days. Work was OK but I would find myself having panic attacks and anxiety attacks and losing concentration. My days off were literally spent in my bed.
However, since I had the breakdown a few years ago I get annoyed with myself if I stay in bed too long. So, this time I would spend the morning and part of the afternoon in bed dozing and faffing around on my phone. Then I would get annoyed. Fox Villa was getting a state. Dishes not done, washing not done. Hoovering not done. Dusting not done (although you can dust this place and five minutes later it’s needing done again). So, I would get annoyed with myself and angrily get out of bed and tidy up, shower, clean, whatever needed done. I’d be angry at myself for letting things get like this, for the GAD to be winning again. I didn’t want it to win. In the end, I won.
Here’s the feelings I get when the GAD kicks in. Sweats and shivers. Nausea to the point of retching. Increased heart rate. Feeling like I need to sit on the toilet for hours. Panic. Fright. Lack of concentration. Every sense becomes hyper, hearing being one of the worst, everything becomes too loud. Sight is another, it’s like I suddenly see everything, every colour, it’s almost like I see sound. Irritation, everything gets on my nerves. I get a rash. The unstoppable feeling of wanting to go home. I can’t cope with other people yet I also want them around. The breathing goes. Catching a breath is difficult (increasing the panic). Mouth is dry to the point when swallowing naturally is almost impossible, I go everywhere with a bottle of water and packet of mints these days. Fear, and that’s different from fright. Fright is what’s happening round me, things I can’t control. People coming at me, or things happening that I can’t control. Fear is that this won’t stop. That this is who I am. That I won’t be able to get home or I won’t be able to get out of bed and I will lose everything.
The list is not exhaustive though. Many people will feel many different things. At my worst I’ve thought about suicide. I could do it in ten minutes but I don’t want to. When I have thought about it I then think about how senseless it would be. What would it actually bring? Heart break and hell to those I leave behind which is senseless because I’m not actually ready to go. Also, when it comes to something like that – I am a coward.
Suicide is not the cowards way out. Let me be clear on that. There are people on this earth who dedicate their lives to helping people who think that suicide is the way out and they would assure you that those people who do commit suicide are not cowards, they are far from it. They will tell you that people who commit suicide have exhausted everything they have to give. They have tried to be strong for too long.
No one should feel ashamed for having anxiety or panic attacks or depression. Please speak out. I feel that women are doing this more now but men aren’t and it’s time you lads did. Look at this stat from 2016:
In 2016, the suicide rate for males was more than two-and-a-half times that for females.
It’s time to talk, men. Depression and anxiety are happening to you in all walks of life. Hibernian manager Neil Lennon wants more men to get help and speak out. You can have it all and you can have nothing but you can still be struck down by poor mental illness.
It takes a lot to make that first step but once you make it then it will change your life.