Mental Health FAQ | Q&A #7

A lot of people that I know read this blog- I mean I post the links to my personal Facebook and the majority of the people who 'like' The Introvert Archive Facebook page are people who know me personally. Because of this people find it somewhat easier to come up to me (especially at the pub after a few drinks) and share what is going on with their mental health, and I love it. I love that people are feeling that they can talk about their mental illness openly, it makes me so bloody happy that through this blog I am starting to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. This isn't really the point of this blog post but it was something that made me pretty damn happy.

The actual topic that I wanted to talk about is questions that I get asked fairly regularly about my mental health or mental health in general. As you would have realised I have been away from this blog for a few weeks, I needed some time to re-motivate myself and set myself some clear goals for where I want to go with not only with my writing but with myself personally. To ease myself back into writing and not do too much too quickly and burn out I thought I would answer these questions in a post. I get people messaging me and such asking me questions about how I am coping and such and I thought hey why not tie it all in together in one blog post. So well-ah!

Why don't you speak to a professional anymore?

So since I was fourteen I have had two stints with talking to a mental health councillor. So the first was a lady when I was first diagnosed and I think I went to see her maybe four times and I stopped for a number of reasons. The first being that I had no connection with her therefore I wasn't be as open as I should have been. It was just hard to be honest and vulnerable around her because of that lack of connection. The second reason I stopped was living in the country I was bloody sick of being driven to the city every second week to leave there feeling exactly the same as I did when I arrived.

The second councilor I saw was actually last year and it was actually my choice to get some some professional help this time around. As I've said before my mental health fluctuates continuously and this was just a particularly bad time for me. I was still dealing with the effects on my mental health that had been put there by my previous job and on top of that I was dealing with money troubles and I was just all over the place. I saw this councillor three times I think and that was enough to push back in the right direction to get to the point that I am at now where I consider my writing to be enough of an outlet that I don't need professional help. I also just find it so much easier to talk to people that know me and have seen me at my worst.

What was you actual diagnosis?

At fourteen when I was first diagnosed I was told I had severe depression, anxiety and anger issues. I worked bloody hard to get rid of that anger issues diagnosis, honestly I felt like I could deal with the depression and anxiety label to an extent but that anger one I was just not going to let it stick. The last time I saw a doctor about this there was no mention of anger issues anymore so currently my diagnosis depression and anxiety.

What annoys you most about society and mental illness?

The stigma around mental illness and it being a bad thing that society shouldn't be talking about and we should just pretend that its not there. This is the reasons that I choose to be so open about my mental illness struggles- it's not something that we should be ashamed of, it's something we should be creating awareness about.

There is something else that annoys me but its a bit of a taboo subject. People self diagnosing and then publicly talking about what they think is a mental illness but really its just a bit of fear, or being sad or having a bad day. I feel like there is every chance I am going to get dragged through the dirt for saying this. There is having anxiety and then there is being scared to do something. There is depression and then there is being sad. I feel like people miss the point of this and then post that to social media and then it kind of create illusions about mental illness that are wrong.

How do you deal with anxiety attacks?

I get to this point where I have over thought and I've stressed and I've worried about something SO much that a wall of anxiety hits me like an oncoming truck at high speed. It's all downhill from there. After experience with these kind of anxiety I have learnt that I just need to ride it out and let all of my emotions and built up stress and anxiety go, and know in myself that I will get through them because I have been through them before. Once an attack like this starts there is no way to stop it and the people around me have learnt that as well. The first thing I will usually do is take myself out side where there is fresh air and a bit of quiet and I can do my thing. I just need to sit there and breathe it out basically. I know that once they are over, its done and I can only go up from there so that is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

How has your mental illness limited you?

I think the big one here is the fact that it limited me from doing something that I really wanted to do and was very motivated for. In year 12 went through the steps to join the navy or at least doing a gap year with the navy. Obviously you have to be very open and honest about your health on the questionnaires and in the interviews and because of my mental health I was kicked out of the interview rounds and that was basically it, motivation deflated.

Another thing that my mental health stopped me from doing was completing the WACE exams. For those of you that don't know WACE exams are the end of year exams in year, they basically give you your ATAR score which is your ticket into university. Through year twelve I did put in quite a lot of effort for these exams, including starting a whole new subject from scratch because I just could not rap my head around politics and law. I also did a lot of exam preparation including a one week stay in the city going over all my subjects with a big group of people who were doing the same subjects as me. I felt like I was going to go into those subjects and not be the best but do the best that I could. Until two weeks out and the overthinking started, I was panicking because I thought these exams were going to be the be all and end all and not doing well was going to ruin my life. The end of the week before I was due to sit these exams I had a full on breakdown, it was bad and mum suggest that maybe I shouldn't sit these exams because of the impact on my mental health. I spent a bit of time thinking about how I was taking the easy way out, and I had just wasted the whole last two years to not even get a score and what the hell was I going to do with no ATAR. But I'm so glad that I didn't sit the exams (even if the school wasn't) because I know for sure it would have set back my mental health back by leaps and bounds and at the end of the day that was more important to me than a score.

There is obviously more things that my mental health has limited me with. A big thing for me is social anxiety- its gotten better over time but I still find myself hesitating before making phone call, or not going into a shop because it looks intimidating or not hanging out with the same people for too long because I think I will be annoying them. My mental illness definitely still limits me with stuff like that.

How do you deal with people who don't understand your mental illness?

It's hard because at the end of the day there is people who are going to understand and accept mental illness and there is people who aren't, that is just how it works. You can't let someones lack of understanding have an affect on you personally and you just kind of have a thick skin about it. In your heart you know you are doing what you have to do and your doing your best and those people are irrelevant. Its so hard when the person that doesn't understand is someone who is quite close to you, but you just have to do you and keep going because at the end of the day your mental health is important and their opinion isn't.

What are your bad days like?

A bad day for me could be as little as being unmotivated and getting absolutely nothing done at all, staying in bed all day, eating like shit, not exercising, sleeping a lot. That is like a minor bad day for me. An even worse bad day for me is pretty much the same with a few add additions. On and off crying for no apparent reason, being angry at anyone and everyone, throwing things in frustration, it gets bad.

So there we have it, here are some of my most frequently asked questions regarding my mental health. I am always open to questions from people who are truly interested in understanding mental illness and a good place to start is usually with someone who has experienced it first hand.

Until next time x