Mental health is a strange thing. One moment you’re doing perfectly fine and then slowly but surely, you can start to feel sad, lonely or anxious for no reason.
These aren’t feelings you can shake either – they start growing, getting worse and the next thing you know you’re crying over an old cheese advert you’ve seen on YouTube.
At least, this was the case for me… and yes, I’ve posted the cheese advert below!
The First Wave
Since living with my mental health conditions, I’ve now become used to them coming in what I call ‘waves’. Long periods of good, followed by periods of bad. Whilst I can’t pinpoint a specific date to my first wave, I attribute the deterioration of my mental health to being at university (aka college) during my third and fourth years.
Looking back now, that time of my life seemed pretty good on paper! I was living with my girl friends in a house together, I’d recently acquired a boyfriend (who is still with me now, phew) and the hardest decision I had to make was what I was going to wear on our next night out. Yet for some reason, a dark raincloud had started to appear over my world.
I can remember sitting on my partner’s sofa just crying for absolutely no reason at all, with him trying to comfort me. It’s such a strange and confusing feeling being upset without anything triggering it, but during those months even the simplest things would set me off. I became hyper-aware of things around me and felt like every comment was directed at me personally, causing me to over-react or feel victimised.
Sweeping it under the carpet
One of the biggest challenges I find about mental health is speaking to anyone about it. I didn’t want to tell my family in the fear that they would worry. I couldn’t open up to my friends in case they didn’t understand and I seemed like a ‘downer’. So, the person I spoke to was my boyfriend – the one person who I wanted to tell, but also didn’t at the same time as I hated him seeing me like that.
I’d often suggest getting help, but never went through with it due to either fear or
Thankfully after some months my symptoms subsided and I started feeling like myself again… until a few month later when I didn’t! My depression and anxiety began finding its way back into my life and relationships and the cycle would just start again only this time, my sadness had made a friend – anger.
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Anger and Depression
As my waves of depression came, I began to be more irritable, hostile and had the awful habit of blowing things out of proportion. Much to the resentment of my partner, this was often directed at him as he was the only one that I felt comfortable knowing about my situation.
Small, unimportant nuisances were met with fiery, disproportionate responses which finally led to extreme feelings of guilt after they’d blown over. I was also feeling angry at myself, fuelled by my own behaviour.
Why was I pushing away the one person who was there for me?
I thought that I was coping and that things would get better naturally, but I didn’t realise the fissures I was creating. It wasn’t until much later that I understood the link between depression and anger, and was able to get this under control.
One day, I had decided enough was enough. I was feeling physically and emotionally exhausted and knew that if nothing changed, then I would risk losing so much.
Sheepishly, I decided to research Talking Therapies and was able to self-refer myself to a therapist who arranged a telephone consultation with me and I’ve never looked back since. Our weekly calls became invaluable as she guided me through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques and helped me understand my triggers and solutions to them.
Having a therapist not only gave me a safe space to release my inner thoughts and feelings, but taught me things about myself that I didn’t even know but now recognise and understand.
Although I am no longer in therapy, having that external emotional support provided me with the tools to empower and help myself and for that, I am so grateful. I’m now able to ‘feel’ when my waves are coming and this allows me to take action in advance – like using my CBT notepads more regularly and voicing my feelings more openly.
I’ll admit, I am still a sucker for a sad moment in a film or on TV, and there is a 80% chance I will still shed a tear – although this time, it’s on my own terms.
Admitting that you need help can be a terrifying prospect, but it’s such an important step in becoming the better, happier version of you! And if you’re looking for the cheese advert I was referring to in the beginning, here it is.
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