My A to Z of Mental Health

broken brain

Art – was so important to me. It let me express what I was feeling when no words could possibly do so. This image shows how I wished somebody could put a plaster on and make everything okay. I was ill and needed help. This was my way of imagining my illness – as if my brain needed fixing. Obviously it didn’t but it was an image I often longed for – a broken brain might be easier and quicker to fix

Bottling it up – something I am very good at but it never helps. Please talk to somebody.

CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. I didn’t get on with CAMHS very well but that doesn’t mean they don’t work for everyone. I refused to speak to them because I wanted my parents to come in with me, I didn’t appreciate being in a room with a stranger. The psychiatrist was lovely though and did her best to help.

Depression – a feeling of complete and utter despair. Like it is holding you under water and it won’t let you back up.

escapeEscape – sometimes you just need to escape. I don’t necessarily mean suicide, although don’t get me wrong I can see why people do. Just sometimes you need to escape the feelings and how it affects you. Visiting my uncle when things got tough really helped me escape the four walls that were holding me prisoner.

Food – sometimes you love it and sometimes you hate it. My relationship with food is anything but usual. Side effects of medication (see m) also affected my relationship by making me feel nauseous.

Google, Dr Google – a dangerous tool. A few symptoms can give you a hundred different possible diagnoses, you can easily convince yourself you have several complicated conditions. It is probably best left to the professionals but googling and seeing what other peoples experiences were like is helpful. You are not alone.

Hospital – a place of safety and refuge. Trips to A and E with mental health conditions have been mostly positive. Thank you to the staff who didn’t judge me but helped me.

Information – there is a lot out there. I needed information, statistics. I needed to know everything. It helped me cope.

Judge – please don’t judge me. A mental health condition can hit anyone whatever their background or circumstances. Judging people with a mental health condition is like judging somebody with cancer. It is not my fault.

Keeping going – This is a hard thing to do when everything is too much but stopping and saying I can’t go on can be harder. However it can sometimes be the turning point you need.

rapunzel

Loneliness – however much support you have there are times when nobody can reach you and you feel like you have to fight alone. It’s not true but letting people in is scary.

Medication – would I refuse medication for a physical illness? Probably not but I don’t like my medication for mental health – it has too many side effects. On the other hand it does help. Pros and cons.

Normal? – Are any of us normal? It is not something to aim for. Normal is a hairspray type and does not define those without mental health conditions. I don’t really know what normal does define.

Options – You do have options. There is medication (different kinds), talking therapies, private therapies, eco therapies. Keep trying your options.

Panic attacks – a scary feeling, can be mistaken for heart attacks where you can’t breathe, you feel sick and your heart rate is too high (these are my experiences and your may vary). They are not pleasant but I am better at dealing with them now.

Questions – I had loads (see D) but I needed answers. Knowing everything there was to know helped me to accept the diagnosis and move forward

Recovery – it’s a battle. I’m not going to lie but there will be a recovery. Things always change. Sometimes you will feel better.

Symptoms – don’t ignore symptoms of mental health. Talk to your doctor.

Therapy – Asking for help is hard, receiving help is hard but talking to someone can help. I see a private counsellor where I can talk about anything. Some sessions are tough, others are easier.

Understanding – sometimes all we need is for someone to listen and understand. You don’t have to do anything – just be there.

Voices – A scary experience when you hear something nobody else can. It does not make you crazy, merely ill.

Work – if you are lucky you will have a supportive work but sometimes work can be the stressor that sets off the condition. Taking time off for mental health isn’t always easy but it should be treated just like a physical condition.

eXpress – having autism as well as a mental health condition meant expressing how I was feeling difficult. I knew how I was feeling but putting words to it was hard. I am now able to express myself much better thanks to a lot of help and support.

Your experience – these are my experiences. Yours may differ.

Zest – one day your zest for life will return. I’m still waiting, hoping and praying.

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