Imagine that you can see your mental health... and that it looks like the most precious piece of cut glass you have ever seen. The attention to detail is incredible...and you just want to reach up and lift it down so that you can really see how intricate it is up close, and don't worry - you know that it's precious and so you'll be ever so careful when you lift it off that shelf...
This was the noise that you heard as it slipped through your fingers and shattered on the floor...
This is how it feels when mental health goes wrong...
For some people, poor mental health leaves them unable to do the basics for themselves. They can't wash their hair or clothes, shower or brush their teeth, often for days on end.
Their depression is all consuming and exhausting.
For others, some just wake up one day and decide that enough is enough. That they have had enough of the merry-go-round and now they just need to get off. They decide to deal with the pain that they are feeling by ending that pain... because they simply can't take any more. And it's not about "should've, would've, could've"....or trying to apportion blame. Because a decision like this is just about them. It's simply about them...the only solution for when they can see no solution. For when the overall big picture just got too much for one head to handle.
And then there are people like me. Walking, talking, 'normal'...who simply cease to function. Only they don't realise that they have stopped. Not at first anyway.
My illness was a gradual descent into mental health madness. Because I did actually go mad. At least that's how it felt to me at the time. I actually went down that rabbit hole and had a full on tea-party down there. It lasted for ages. I didn't think that I would ever make it back.
One day I was married, living in a beautiful flat on the beach with my husband, and the next I was a raging alcoholic living on a borrowed sofa, in a house filled with accelerants and lighter fuel and with a man I barely knew.
And I knew that I wasn't feeling well. I knew that I was losing weight...mainly because I couldn't eat anything thanks to my liquid only diet. But I think that at first I honestly just thought that I was tired - That I was just 'processing stuff'. I didn't actually realise how mentally and physically sick I was until much, much later.
I asked my doctor for help with my alcohol problem - Discussed a home detox. But he told me that he was not qualified to advise me, - that he had taken an oath swearing "to do no harm" which meant that he was unable to dabble in an area that he was unfamiliar with...and to be fair, I do respect that looking back. He had my best interests at heart and didn't want me on his conscience if things went wrong.
Which they very nearly did.
Because, in my wisdom, I got a prescription for the things that I knew that I needed and decided to google the quantities myself. It didn't work out too well. I just ended up mixing the two.... which was dangerous and basically could have killed me.
So by now, I was on prescription pills, vast quantities of alcohol and no food. My mental and physical health were screwed. I didn't shower or brush my teeth. I didn't wash or brush my hair. I just got sicker and sicker until I ended up in hospital.
And the doctors and the nurses in there rallied round like the troopers that they are and they helped to put me back together again.
Today, one year later and I'm well. You would never know about my demons unless you were reading this.
Because I got myself back to where I needed to be but I needed professional help in order to do that. And believe me, there is no stigma or shame in reaching out for help for something that you just can't seem to get a handle on yourself.
And so I'm writing this blog and I'm looking at the pictures on my bedroom wall. They are of a pretty, smiling, happy woman surrounded by her friends and looking like she doesn't have a care in the world. And I don't really. Not any more. Not like I did a year ago anyway...
And I love those photos. They reflect my new life. And my new ideas and the hopes that I have for myself. Without reaching out for help when I reached my rock bottom I wouldn't have those photos. Because I wouldn't have been around to star in them. My shot to bits mental health would have kept me underground, in that tea-party in my head.
Today I still look upon my mental health as being as fragile as that piece of glass. But I know that she needs to be understood and respected as much as she needs to be recognised. And I know only too well the consequences that can follow if she is poked and prodded too much by myself or others around me. It ends up in a tea party...and I'm the head of the table. And so I leave her be.
I call that horrific time an 'Episode'. I haven't had one since.
I fully intend on never having one again.
And so I leave my mental health where she sits in her space above me. Because I know now that she chose that vantage point on purpose. It helps her to keep an eye on me...and keeps me away from teapots...