Our Brains

Mental health image

I spend a lot of my time when writing and illustrating drawing on my experience as someone living in the throes of poor mental health. This has been my reality for over 8 years, and yes, it’s fluctuated in that time, yes, I’ve had more bad days than good, no, I don’t manage well at all. Weeks of peace meld into months of pain and at times, it’s hard to accept the light at the end of the tunnel exists, let alone see it.

Today I’m struggling. I’ve cried, tried to centre my feelings and thoughts and deal with them systematically, but ultimately, I still feel awful. I don’t sleep, I eat out of desperate necessity and rarely find opportunities to smile.

For some reason my website has been feeling incomplete, and I think adding a page that talks about mental illness, that may help someone else in a moment of need or loneliness, might be the thing I owe back to the cause.

For the sake of honesty, I will reveal that I am living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). , Panic Disorder, Tourette’s, Depression and Agoraphobia. My behaviour when I’m low, the things I do to cope, aren’t something I want to glamourise or advertise. I will say that, at times, I’ve been afraid, scared to death in fact. I feel lonely, lost, sad, broken, empty, aimless, pointless, a burden, and even more afraid.

I haven’t left the house since May 2021. I’m trapped indoors because I’m so afraid of the outside world, other people and embarrassing myself or my family.

My reasons for becoming mentally unfit mostly grew from a single problem.

Grief.

I don’t feel comfortable revealing the multiple grief events in my life so far, but anyone who reads my written work will be able to get an understanding of where I’ve been. The darkness. The sadness. The guilt. The infinite grey. It was the source of the pain that pushed me into my endless fall.

Since the grief, I’ve become afraid of many more things, some are simple, some are complex. A bad day is triggered by a multitude of things. Loneliness, uselessness, failure, unexpected calls or visits, lack of social life, pain and mobility problems, fear of the unknown and the petrol that drives the vehicle…paranoia. It’s an evil enemy for me, constantly convincing me that I’m terrible and I therefore can’t handle the triggers above.

That’s not to say that grief and these other traits are impossible to manage, on the contrary. I’ve watched people close to me manage such an awful event, a life changing experience, with nothing but grace, self care and honesty. But I think everyone has that one thing, that single terrible, painful and insurmountable thing, that has the power to push them over the edge. Mine is grief, for someone else it might be body issues, being a child of divorce or simply finding daily life a struggle. I’ve seen all sorts of people fight their own battles. It’s not a competition, no one is right or wrong, everyone deserves to be heard and get help.

If you struggle with these things too, know that you’re not alone. In fact, there are millions of us. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find and support each other? I’m here for that.

So I write what I know.


Famous people understand too…

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.

Dalai Lama XIV

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

J.K. Rowling

I can slip in and out of depression quite easily. I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son. It frightened me and I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it.

Adele

So, if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s the importance of having an outlet. Drawing, writing and talking are my main weapons when I lose sight of happiness. Spending time alone, enjoying a walk, baking and eating an amazing cake, entering a safe online chat and meditating are some of the weapons I’ve heard of other people using.

There’s no question, I believe that everyone has a unique solution and something that works for one person, has a negative effect on someone else. The only way to find out is trial and error.

Never underestimate the benefit of talking to a professional, whether it’s your GP, a mental health charity, the crisis team, councillors or a dedicated chat room (there are too many to list really). I promise you, something or someone will be able to help.


Where can you go?

I’m not always great at talking to the people close to me. I bottle up my pain and anguish and it eats me alive. When I realise I need help, I know there are some great resources available online…

NHS – the NHS website has so much information, but this page could be a good place to start, with links to charities, what to do in a crisis and links with details of support groups. NHS Mental Health Charity Page

Mind – probably the website I’ve used the most when trying to untangle the mess in my brain. The website offers so much, from information on mental illness and mental health issues and the many drugs and treatments available, to details of local groups and the best places to obtain support, often specific to your needs. Mind – the mental health charity

Kooth – this site is relatively new to me, but it’s great for anyone more comfortable asking for anonymous advice through their tablet or mobile. It’s an active community with peer support as well as more useful information and links. Kooth

The Mental Health Foundation – long standing and well respected, the Mental Health Foundation website is all about information and education. Their ‘help’ page quickly gets you the details of the various outlets available for someone in a crisis, a link to that page is here.

Rethink Mental Illness – Improving the lives of people severely affected by mental illness through a network of local groups and services, expert information and successful campaigning. The site has even more information and links on everything from education, rights, benefits and help for carers. It’s a huge resource and well worth a look. Rethink Mental Illness

CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably has been specifically created to help anyone struggling to understand that life is worth living. Whatever your situation, they have a 365 day helpline open from 5pm until midnight, where they answer peoples calls and messages. The website is also a huge source of information both for those who need help and those who want to get help for someone else. If you’re suicidal or concerned about someone who might be, then try their website. CALM

This is honestly a drop in the ocean, a quick google search will return thousands of options. Everyone has different needs. Just take a minute to find what feels right for you. And don’t forget the benefits possible just by calling your GP or NHS 111.

Above all, don’t stop trying to find the key that opens your lock. It is out there somewhere.

Finally, I’m much better at providing advice and lending an ear to others than I am at finding and engaging with help myself. I hate to say it, but this is a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. I’ll work on it 😊.

Stay safe and well. Steph 💜


*You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

Steph Writes and Illustrates

“A kinder, more thoughtful world is a place we all deserve to live”

Email me: steph@creativesteph.co.uk

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