Little disclaimer before I start on this one: please please don't take any of what I say in this post as me putting down the support, help and guidance that people offer online. The visibility that mental health has gotten online this week has been phenomenal, I've seen people reach out and help each other and that's amazing, I'm not saying its not important to talk to each other or help each other, this is simply some thoughts that I've had while reading through all the thousands of mental health posts that have been floating around the web this week .
I sat down earlier this week to try and write this post as it was Mental Health Awareness Day and I really wanted to put in my two cents about a topic which I feel very strongly about, but typically my brain wanted to stay true to the occasion and be a little shit. I couldn't form a sentence that actually made any sense and I couldn't muster up the want to tell everyone that "they're going to be okay" in a moment where I didn't feel like I was ever going to be okay. I think that that is a perfect analogy for one of the most important factors of mental health issues, it doesn't care - it doesn't care who you are, what you're doing, what day it is, someday's it just comes out of no where and hits you like an arctic lorry. I feel like 2018 has been a really prominent year in terms of mental health, for me personally and for the world around me. It has become more public knowledge that people suffer with things like this, its becoming less stigmatised for both men and women to talk about your problems and to seek help and advise from other people, but it has also felt like the year where we're all living in an online world of perfection, I have a whole blog post on my thoughts and feelings about social media that you can see here if you fancy a read.
I can't help but feel really divided about the support that people offer others online, I understand and respect that the most people offer support to others from their heart, they genuinely want to help and want to make people feel less alone. But I think there can be a huge pressure on people to feel like they have to deal with their problems in a specific way. As someone who has tried every way of dealing with their mental health that I could possibly imagine, I feel like people need to be reminded that its important for them to deal with their own issues how they feel works best for them, not how they feel they should deal with it because of other peoples opinions and experiences. As much as it can be a huge relief for some people to talk through their problems and that can be so pivotal in peoples well being, some people genuinely don't want to talk, everyone suffers in different ways and in turn everyone finds help in different ways and that totally fine. I want to remind any one reading this that just because you don't deal with how you're feeling in the same way as people online, your friends or your family do, it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you or that you deserve to struggle. Everyone is on their own journey and moving at different paces and in different ways. Something which I also noticed a lot of emphasis on checking up on people and making sure your loved ones are okay, which I'm not disregarding at all, but its also okay to acknowledge that you're struggling as well and admit that you're not in a position to help other people at that moment in time, I see so many people not dealing with their own issues because they're so focused on helping other people, I know I'm 100% guilty of this. Personally the idea of not helping someone else in order to help myself makes me feel like a terrible or selfish person and a bad friend, but it shouldn't be that way, as long as you communicate to people why you don't feel capable of helping, it does not make you a bad person to see the importance of taking care of yourself.
I mentioned a few posts back that I had made the decision to come off of the antidepressants that I am on so that I can start to deal with my underlying issues instead of just numbing the symptoms, I wanted to post a little update in that sharing my experience will help normalise it for anyone whos going through the same thing. I've had people in my life feel very strongly about the idea of me taking prescription drugs to help with mental illness and despite my decision to come off of them, it doesn't change my mindset that they helped me more than I ever imagined for a while. I've been on one tablet or another since I was 16 and I just came to a point where I realised that it was time I try and see how I can cope without them and try to take some time on dealing with my actual issues as the tablets I was taking just numbed my emotions. I went to my GP and he helped me made a plan to start the process of being weened off them, I was taking 40mg Fluoxetine daily - we took it down very gradually to help minimise the inevitable withdraw symptoms. I came off them totally just before Reading Festival, the first week of being totally off them was fine, but as the second week came in I felt horrible. I was irritable, uncomfortable and I felt more unstable than I have ever felt, everything felt daunting, it felt like that was how I was going to feel forever. I had to fight off the urge to just start taking them again (I ended up getting rid of them because I didn't feel strong enough to have them in the house), there was a couple of occasions where I had the overwhelming urge to just pack up everything and run away, starting again as a totally new person felt like the only logical way my brain could get out of how I was feeling. I carried on this way for about 4 weeks, eventually the side effects started to fade and my mind is feeling a lot clearer right now, I don't feel particularity good but I can feel again which is honestly the biggest relief when you've been unable to cry properly for year. I feel okay right now, I'm feeling more motivated in months and I am able to focus on things again which was something I really struggled with while on the meds. Overall at the moment I'm happy I made the jump to come off of them, I think its helped me realise how much progress I've actually made on myself over the years which is something that I totally looked past while I was on them. I cannot stress enough that if you are on medication and are wanting to make ANY change in them, you need to go through your GP and get their advice on how best to do it.