Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Mental Health Tag

Lauren from This Stuff is Golden recently participated in the mental health tag, and I liked the questions they asked, so I'm doing it too. 

1. What is your mental health issue?
I have depression and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

2. Do you have medication and/or therapy?
Yes, I've been on 20mg Citalopram daily since November of 2012.

3. What therapy/medication have you tried and has any worked for you?
The medication has done wonders. I don't see myself going off it ever, to be honest, because the difference to how I felt before taking it is extreme. 
I'm not in therapy, even though I have considered it - maybe in the future. Right now I don't feel the pressing need. As long as I look after myself well and respect my limitations I'm usually fine.

4. How long have you had problems for?
Since the onset of puberty, which for me was at around age 14. However, I wasn't aware of it at the time, and didn't even  begin to suspect I had depression until I was well into my 20s. I avoided the topic for a long time because of the stigma attached to it, and because mental illness is being frowned upon in my family. 

5. Do your family/friends know?
Yes! I'm very open about it. Part of the reason why I didn't want to face up to my depression was that I didn't know anybody who had it - or so I thought. After writing this blog post (which was like coming out for me, a truly scary experience) I was approached by a lot of people: friends, co-workers, acquaintances. Many of them told me about their own struggles, about the therapy they went to or the medication they take. I couldn't believe it! 
I thought I was the only one, but all these people I saw everyday or thought I knew were fighting the same demons!
That's when I made the decision to talk about it like I would about any other health issue - because that's what it is.

6. Does this affect your work and daily living?
Yes and no, it depends who you ask. I've never taken a day off work because of it, which was a point of pride and part of the reason why I thought I was "fine". In hindsight I probably should have, because on my worst days I was awful to be around - bitchy and emotional and bursting into tears, and because I had no "real" reason for my behaviour I would have to make one up. It wasn't fun. Thankfully, taking the meds has largely made my rollercoaster emotions stop.   

It definitely affected my relationships. I was the moody one, the one you had to tiptoe around because I might erupt at any moment. I didn't ask my family how it was living with me until a few years ago after being treated for depression, and hearing them tell me their stories was painful. 
It also affected my relationship with my husband. He loves me like no other, but 6 years ago on vacation in Hawaii, when I cried every day and didn't want to do anything, he gently told me that we needed to seek help, or our marriage was in danger. 
That was my wake-up call. Our marriage is sacred to me, and potentially losing my husband was the only thing I was more scared of than having to talk to a stranger about my "mood swings". 

These days I'd say that my depression is mostly under control, but my PMDD is still a bitch. I have a hard time a week before my period arrives, feeling anything from just grouchy (which is the good-case-scenario) to hopeless (which is scary). All you can do is keep reminding yourself that this feeling won't last, and wait it out. 

7. What makes you feel calm?
Going for a walk with my dogs. Reading. Watching Gilmore Girls. Stretching. Lighting a fire. Taking a nap. Hugging my husband. Petting one of the kittens. Cuddling the dogs. 

8. What do you do in a crisis?
I hide in bed, have a good cry and try to rememeber that it will pass. I often re-read posts from Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, who writes about anxiety and depression in her incomparably funny and unconventional way. It reminds me that I'm not alone. Husband- and dog-hugs are good, and taking a double dose of my antidepressants. Professor Lupin advised to eat some chocolate after a dementor encounter, and dementors are nothing else but depression, so I'm following his advice. 
Most importantly? Just make it through today, and trust that tomorrow will be better.

9. What advice would you give to others suffering?
Talk to someone!! I can't stress this enough. Talk to a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, your doctor, or whoever you feel comfortable opening up to. You need to ask for help, because you don't deserve to suffer the way you do. There are many ways to make mental illness easier to live with, but in order to get help you have to tell people that you need it.  

10. What makes you smile?
Watching animals play. Seeing the sun. Flowers. My husband telling me he loves me. Celeste Barber. Writing something that manages to bring across what I was trying to say. Yoga. Reading something really well written. My dogs. Seeing the first butterfly in spring. Making plans. Walking in nature. Taking photos. Having someone tell me I helped them. Funny people. My sister.  



11. Describe your mental health issue in 5 words.  
Exhausting. Tough. Normal. Frustrating. Enlightening. 

12. Insert a picture to make people smile. 
I love my people. 

I'm tagging everyone who would like to participate! It was surprisingly therapeutic to answer these questions. If you do, please leave a link to your post in the comments so I can read it!

xoxo Miriam


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