people need other people.

it’s 10pm on a wednesday night and here i am, just a while in from having dinner with someone very special and i’m sat in bed crying.

why you ask? or maybe you didn’t but either way you’re finding out.

the reason i’m crying is because i have just finished reading Bryony Gordon’s book ‘Mad Girl’. the book is Bryony sharing her story, her mental health story.

some of the parallels in our illnesses are scary but it made me realise that we, Bryony and I, are the lucky ones. we had people around us, both at home and at work, that cared. that care. that care enough to not give up on us when our demons get too much, that don’t run the other way saying ‘fuck this shit, you’re on your own’ but stand next to us, gently guiding us saying ‘you’ve got this’.

tonight when i was at dinner my friend told me about a colleague she had who had passed away recently, this colleague had struggled with his mental health (his death was unrelated to any mental health illnesses) in the past which eventually led to him leaving his position – by all accounts the management were not very supportive of the days out he needed to take.

(please note, needed is accurate. when you’re depressed you can’t simply say to depression ‘oh well today isn’t a very good day for me to be depressed, i’ve lots on. can you come back tomorrow?’ depression, in case you didn’t know, is a bit of an inconsiderate bastard).

at his funeral she learnt how much having that job meant to him. she said she never realised the impact their day to day jokes and interactions had on him, and on his life.

i’m crying because i realised that i was lucky, i was lucky that back in september i had someone who was able to notice i was poorly before i did – Momma Sophs, you recognised i was ill before i did, before anyone did. i don’t know how but thank you.

i was lucky that, when i was stood on a train platform a couple of weeks later listening to the voices in my head telling me to give up and that me dying would be for the benefit of everyone, that it would be better than the constant battle in my head, i had diane on the end of the phone telling me not to listen to the voice in my head that was telling me that. that it was lying to me.

i was lucky i had my sister to call and make the doctors appointment when i was too ill to myself.

i was lucky i had denise calling me every few hours just to check in, telling me to come to her house after work so she could feed me and let me get some of these thoughts out my head and feelings off my chest.

i had my boss – who i was super nervous to tell i was poorly because, well i was embarrassed, i was embarrassed of being ill again and of how bad it had gotten and what it might make him think of me – tell me that it was a tricky illness but that he knew i was more than capable. he understood why i text him to tell him and didn’t call and then spent time with me on the phone the next day trying to understand the illness, what it looked like for me and help me figure out what my triggers were.

now i have my new boss who was, as well, brilliant when he found out – as i’m still recovering i thought it wise to tell him and it came up very organically in conversation so i was comfortable telling him. parts of our conversation went like this…

me – i don’t run around screaming at everyone that i’m mad but it makes sense you should know.

him – you’re not mad because you’ve got depression…. you just need to make sure you tell me how you’re feeling, keep me in the loop.

(that’s what i needed to hear from him. it was a big weight off these shoulders, i tell ya. also, nb, i often tell people i’m ‘mad’ because i think i’m being funny and most people feel more comfortable when you joke about serious stuff)

i had steph, who always seems to message me at just the right time, who always makes me feel like a better human than i am.

i guess, the short version (i’ve never been very good at getting straight to the point), is that i was crying because i was grateful.

i was grateful for this year and for these people (and many more not listed here). i was grateful for the days when i thought i wouldn’t make it to the next one because, if nothing else, i’ve learnt the human spirit is made of strong bloody stuff.

2017 is the year i realised that i didn’t have to keep all my problems to myself. it was the year i learnt who my friends really were. i learnt i don’t have to keep my cards so close to my chest. i might be a burden sometimes, but then aren’t we all? the ones that think i’m worth it will stay. for the good and bad.

i learnt people need other people.

we really do.

people need other people.

and there’s nothing wrong with that. nothing at all.

xoxo M

p.s if you want to try to understand mental health illnesses and how they make you feel and think please read Bryony’s book. she words it so well, much better than i ever could.

World Mental Health Day

hi everyone,

i wasn’t going to post today. i wasn’t going to write. i was going to let the day pass and share this another time, perhaps when i was better. however, having seen so many of my friends (both real life and online), family and even celebrities, post about World Mental Health Day i feel like it would be insincere of me not to post.

as many of you know, mental health is something that is very close to my heart (and head). i posted before about my mental health battles, about dealing with anxiety and depression. i have been very vocal about not being ashamed of my sometimes chaotic mind. So, with that in mind, i have something to tell you.

i, michaela, am battling depression once again. third times the charm, ay.

when did I know it had come back, when did i suspect something was wrong again? that i needed help? well, it hit me like a sack of shit last week but the symptoms had been there for a while; i just ignored them, or rather blamed them on exhaustion from having worked continuously since may with no break, pulling at least 50hr work weeks.

so what finally made me admit that i wasn’t well and that i need a helping hand? it was number of things and they all came to head last week. i’ll tell you.

this next part some people may find difficult to read and so i apologise in advance if you makes you feel uncomfortable.

september 23rd. i was in montrose, ca visiting friends.  i took the following picture and uploaded it to my socials

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nothing weird about that, most people enjoy a quick selfie. the difference is, most people don’t follow posting a selfie on facebook with thoughts of “if i jumped off the balcony would it be high enough to kill me?” i pondered that for a good 5 minutes. then my friend Mark came along and distracted me enough for that thought to leave my mind. i slept more than normal on that holiday too – which is common sign of depression – but again i blamed it on exhaustion, all those long hours i’d done were catching up with me. or were they? Mark and my friends fed me up good and proper the whole holiday – i’d been going days without eating properly (eating too much/ loss of appetite – another sign of depression) before – but again i was just too busy to eat. i mean, a bag of popcorn and a breakfast bar is a normal amount of food to eat in a 48 hour period, right?

when i got home i was still exhausted, but blamed it on jetlag. getting up in the morning was harder than ever and i was extremely emotional but, hey, i had my period so it must have been that.

tuesday i was off. i shared my worries with one of my oldest friends, denise. i spent a couple of hours with her, her little one and the dog. it’ll do me good to get out the house, i thought. i thought i’d been ok but, turns out, i hadn’t. she told me on friday that she could tell i “wasn’t right”.

i was starting late on wednesday, it took me an hour to get out of bed. the negative thoughts had crept back in but again, i brushed it off. it took all the strength i had to get in the shower, i managed through and got out the shower but that’s where my energy left me. my sister had to pick me up off the floor. she had to help me get dressed. she had to dry my hair for me, all whilst i sat there in a daze. dentist happened and then i was away to work. i got to the train station and stood crying on the platform. i knew there was something wrong with me, i could barely keep my head up. my thoughts were along these lines… how long would i feel the pain if i stepped in the path of a train? do people ever survive being hit by a train? it would be over in seconds, i’m sure. the aim was not to die, the aim was to end the confusion. the aim was to clear the fog that had clouded my mind. the aim was peace.

i realise that this may seem dramatic to you. hell, it does to me. but it’s my truth and i won’t lie about it. i can’t sugar coat anything because to do that would be pointless.

clearly, as i am sat here writing this, i did not step in front of a train. i had a set of people around me that listened, that knew me well enough to make me get help. i shared that train thought with one of my best friends because, through all the fog, i had a small moment of clarity, i knew telling someone would help. and it did. once i had told her, the fog cleared slightly.

whilst this was happening my sisters had been talking, and my eldest sister called me and told me she was booking me doctors appointment – she got me one for the next day.

i went to the doctor. i’m getting help. this time around i have opted for no anti depressants, although i have some waiting for me if i change my mind. this time around i am trying counselling. i need to understand my triggers.

i had to cancel my trip to india to get better which broke my heart. my doctor deemed me too ‘high risk’ to travel so far with no treatment, so soon after diagnosis, “it’s definitely not advisable, michaela. india will always be there”.

i never thought i would be back at a point where i was having to tell people i was ill in this way again.  all i can ask at this time from those that are closest to me is their patience, please be patient with me. some days i will be ok. others i won’t. today was a good day – for the first time in 4 days i found the energy to get out of bed and shower (depression is not glamorous), it took everything out of me – my hair was knot city so that was a chore in itself. i also ask you to not edit yourselves around me – make jokes, talk to me like normal; i don’t need special treatment. i’m still me!!

i also need to say thank you. thank you to my sisters for looking out for me, my parents. thank you to diane who talked me down from that moment on the platform, who messaged me each morning and night to make sure i was safe. to denise, for checking in on me each day, for giving me an evening of distraction on friday – i felt normal for an evening, for putting food in front of me (even if i only ate half a plate), to my little sophia for being honest and saying that you didn’t know what to say but that you just wanted me better. to steph, you always know what to say, even when i don’t believe the nice things you say to me, you still say them. to the taylors, yesterday was a bad day but you took the time to find images and youtube videos of my favourite things to make me smile. it worked. rachel, for reminding me that it is all temporary, that there is no right or wrong way to live life and that i will get there eventually. byng, mark, ken, tom, rhirhi, mariana, emma, katie… anyone who has taken 5 minutes to just see how i am recently. thank you. i even have to shout out my boss because he was amazing when i told him – i’m very lucky to have a boss that doesn’t think less of me because of it – i know from other friends that this is, unfortunately, very rare.

i know you don’t all understand it, i don’t either sometimes but i am trying.

i’m learning to understand it. i’m learning how to keep trying. i’m learning to remind myself that i have survived 100% of my worse times and that no matter how many moments seem unbearable the darkness is temporary. i’m not afraid to put the work in to get better.

because that’s all i want.

to be better.

xoxo micks

 

p.s if anyone, no matter how well i know you, ever needs someone to talk to, if you ever feel this way, know you are not alone. i am here.

I been runnin’

What I am listening to – Jack Garrett ‘Water’ and ‘Follow the sun’ by Caroline Pennell are currently on a loop.

HI FRIENDS,

I am currently sat in my bed, I’ve been here all-day, sleeping and thinking on and off. A rare day off when I have no plans I wasn’t really going to do much more. I have just had food shoved down my throat, as I hadn’t eaten all day today and most of yesterday and have just finished watching ‘To The Bone’ on Netflix.

The weather had also added to my want to not leave my house. You gotta love the great British summer. I feel I may be one of the weird ones though, I quite enjoy a heavy downpour; I find watching the rain calming.

Today I am thinking about running. Not as in the physical act of running – which I have not done for months (must.try.harder) and has contributed to my turning into a bigger lard than ever – but the running away we do in day-to-day life. Do you run away from stuff? I know I do, all the time. From people and problems. Uncomfortable situations. Embarrassing ones. It’s easier to be alone, it’s easier to keep to yourself. It’s easier to ignore things. It’s easier, but probably not particularly healthy.

I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that running away and avoidance doesn’t help anyone or anything. Running away is an escape mechanism we use because we think we’re protecting ourselves.

 

“Ignorance is bliss”

 

but is it?

The issue you’re avoiding will still be there until you deal with it. If you’re really lucky, like me, it will sit in your subconscious and you’ll dream about it. We end up backing ourselves into a corner until we have no choice but to deal with it. How many people do you know that are in relationships not because they’re in love with each other anymore but because it’s easier to stay as they are? It’s comfortable so why rock the boat? How many of us stay in jobs we hate because the fear of failing at what we really want to do is too embarrassing?

I guess what I’m trying to say, and remind myself, is that until we acknowledge what we’re running from, until we muster up the courage to deal with what we’re running from it isn’t going to go away. It will just be a continuous circle in our lives. Similar situations will crop up, we’ll think and feel the same things over, over, over and over again until the day we decide enough is enough. We need to consciously decide to break the habit.

Facing these issues, these fears will help us grow as people. It may not be comfortable, it may be scary but it is essential. We can’t keep running from our pain and hope that when we stop and look over our shoulders it will be gone.

I’m not saying that I have the answers to finding this bravery, I just know I need to find it. So if you have the answers, send them my way.

 

Cheers all the best,

 

Micks xoxo

 

You can’t run away from your problems. They will just chase you and get bigger and bigger. If you stand and face them, they will shrivel and disappear.” -W.H. Fordham

If I didn’t have anxiety.

“I don’t understand why you get like that”

“I don’t know how to act around you when you start behaving weird”

“Just cheer up”

 “Just think about something else”

These are just a few of the things that I have had said to me in recent weeks. Background: I’ve been really struggling with my mental health issues for a few weeks again. This week I had such a big panic attack that I had to leave somewhere to go home early which has not happened to me for years and it really, honestly scared me.

Anxiety is such a smart disorder and no matter how many times I have an attack, they still scare me. It isn’t something you ever get used to. The scariest part is feeling like you can’t breathe – your heart races but you can’t swallow oxygen at all. The thoughts that pop into your head take over and you can’t make them stop. They remind you of everything that is wrong with you – all the mistakes you’ve made and make you worry about the ones you know you will.

I should be celebrating my one year free of happy pills – it was a July 2016 that I took my last citalopram and I haven’t felt the need for them since. Until now. Living life with mental illness is not a smooth journey, there are always going to be bumps in the road. I can go months without any symptoms and go about my business happy as Larry. Then, just like lightning, it comes like a bolt out the blue; I can’t stop it and I cant control it.

It sounds crazy from the outside; I get it’s hard to understand. From the inside, it’s hard to explain. You just need to be patient with me.

When I am having a hard time in my head I very often get to questioning what life would be like without anxiety and depression.

What life would be like not having to feel like I have to explain myself to people I don’t know who think I am rude when I don’t talk to them – I’m not rude, I promise. I’m just socially anxious and don’t know what to say to people I don’t know. I envy those people who are able to talk to anyone, about anything. To whom conversations with strangers are easy.

If I didn’t have anxiety.

If I didn’t have anxiety I wouldn’t automatically go to the worst – I wouldn’t wake up in the morning worrying about the day ahead. I wouldn’t have to cancel plans and miss out on things that I had been so looking forward to.

If I didn’t have anxiety I wouldn’t question myself all the time. I would have better self-esteem. I wouldn’t question my abilities. I wouldn’t question my ability to love and be loved, I wouldn’t feel like I don’t deserve all the good that I have in my life. I would be more a more supportive friend, daughter, aunt, niece.

I would just be content with being me.

I would be able to breathe, really breathe.

As anyone that suffers with anxiety knows, it is not easy. It is a daily battle and we take the good with the bad. If I didn’t have anxiety maybe life would be easier, but then maybe I wouldn’t know how much I am able to overcome. My resilience might be lower.

Maybe my anxiety makes me, me?

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A lesson to learn from Robin Williams’ passing

This post originally appeared on my old site micksmusings.tumblr.com

http://shitleesays.tumblr.com/post/94527359918/what-did-he-have-to-be-depressed-about

I was planning on writing something around Robin’s passing and depression but I think this blog says it all and takes the words out of my mouth. I urge you to read the blog on the link.

I am currently fighting depression for the 2nd time in 5 years. The first time I had it I was 20, going on 21. I refused to take drugs because I thought it was the ‘easy way out’ and I constantly asked myself “what do I have to be depressed about?”.

Only when I was better did I see that, like it says here, that it wasn’t a case of feeling sorry for myself, or having a bad day. I couldn’t just shake it off and crack on. Depression isn’t that nice. On those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to wash, eat, talk to anyone I wasn’t able to just ‘get over it’. Because I couldn’t, depression is that nice.

It took me almost 9 months to get better, I hid my diagnosis from everyone. Only one friend knew, and my doctor. Not even my mum knew. I was at uni, living away from home, and it’s easy to hide it when you are not around people who know you 100%. If depression has taught me one thing it is that it’s amazing what you can hide behind a smile. After I was better I told my close family. My mum, it turns out, had suspected all along but hadn’t wanted to push it because she knew it would make me run in the other direction and shut everyone out even more. She was just glad I’d got my ‘spark’ back.

Depression is isolating, it is lonely and, on the worse days, it makes you question the point of being alive anymore. Yes that might sound dramatic to you, but to a depressed mind it isn’t. It is a real question.

Depression defies sense. There is no logic with depression. This is what I, as a very logical person, struggled with, and still struggle to understand about my illness. If I stubbed my toe and then cried, I would know I was crying because I’d hurt my toe. When you’re depressed you wake up and burst into tears for no reason. It doesn’t make sense.

This time around I was able to catch my depression earlier, with the help of Audrey and Val at work (living angels, those two). They had noticed behaviours in me, and knowing I had suffered before, they urged me to visit my doctor, “fine, if it’ll shut you up” is what I replied. Turns out they were right, after bursting into tears at the doctors, we had a conversation about my options. This time she convinced me to try tablets, I told her my feelings about it being the ‘easy way out’. Her response was “if you had a chest infection, would taking antibiotics be the easy way out? No, it wouldn’t. All you’re doing is taking medicine to fix an illness, but this time the illness is in your brain”

She’s right. The tablets have worked wonders and I’m feeling back to myself. And I’m not ashamed to say that I take them, and that I suffer from depression. It is not something to be ashamed of.
Over 350 million people ( according to WHO) suffer from depression worldwide. Robin Williams was one of them.

If anything good can come from his passing, I hope it is that more people become educated about depression. That more people realise those that suffer from depression aren’t all ‘weirdos’ ‘attention seekers’ ‘nut jobs’. We are just unwell. And we can be fixed even if we think we are un fixable, it doesn’t have to end like it did for Robin.

Let’s break the stigma. Let’s talk about depression. Let’s help those who suffer get better.

Robin, thank you for bringing so much joy to so many people. You may not have been able to see your light but we all can, and always will. You will be remembered as one of the greatest comedic actors of all time. You will be missed.
Xoxo Micks