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.

hope and faith.

It’s 6:30 on a Saturday. I’m sat in bed in my pants and a big wooly jumper (you’re welcome for that delightful visual). The last few days have been a bit up and down for me; quite emotional and, for whatever reason, quite paranoid. I mean, I cried at work approximately 3 times yesterday. Yes, I had to take myself to the loo on 3 separate occasions to have a cry.

 

I’ve spoken a lot about the battles within my own head, sometimes the noise is loud in there, other times it’s quiet. Recently it’s been particularly loud.

 

This week marks two key days for me in my mental health journey.

September 6, 2017 – marked a year since I took my last anti-depressant. A YEAR. 365 days. That alone is enough to make me cry I think. I remember being so so scared that I couldn’t feel happy without those little drugs – I even wrote about it at the time – but I’ve only bloody gone and done it. A YEAR.

There are things I have dealt with in that year that, looking back now, I can’t believe that I did without the help of those little pills.

September 10th, 2017 – this is World Suicide Prevention Day; a day that I always mark in my own little way. Why? I know that, had I not had people looking out for me in my darkest times I could have been a statistic. I could have been one of those 6000 people who take their own life in the UK and ROI a year. I would have been 1 of the 800,000 people that die by suicide worldwide each year. This year’s key message is “It’s OKAY to talk” – it really is. I will always have these two ears open for anyone that needs them.

My story may not be a remarkable one, but it still one of hope for anyone that is in that dark place now. I made it through the other side. I’m so glad I did. I have so much to live for, I have so much to hope for, I have so much to look forward to.

You never know what is going to happen in life but you have to learn to see the beauty in that.

“You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn. You’re human; you’re not perfect. You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive. Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love. Sometimes there is sadness in our journey, but there is also lots of beauty. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend”

The ‘Me’ last year was determined to leave the country, to go and start fresh somewhere else. To leave behind my broken heart and confused state of mind, to start fresh somewhere no one knew me. Clearly that didn’t happen, I came home. I can sit here now, and say (or type) hand on heart, it was the best decision I ever made.I know I am not perfect, and I am learning to be OK with that. I am realising that although I am independent, I still want to be looked after (and that there is no shame in that). I’m starting to be OK with who I am.  I do not know what the next six years, or even six months hold for me, but for now, yes I might be a bit down in this exact moment, but I am happy. I am happy with where my life is going, with the things I do have planned, with the people who I have around me, with the people I have in my life.

 

I. AM. HAPPY.

Hope allowed me to get to this point.

Blind faith of those around me got me to this point.

I am so glad it did.

 xoxo Micks

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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