Where have I been the last six months you may be thinking, well I have been here and there but I have had a lot going on in my life and for various reasons as a consequence of what has been going on I have had no inclination to blog. However lately I have been getting the itch to put my fingers to my keyboard once again and I want to write about an issue very personal (to me) and close to home.
That issue is the stigma that still exists around mental health. In the UK one in four people experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year and nine out of ten people suffer some kind of mental health problem at some point in their lives.
So why then do we not treat mental illness on par with physical illnesses? Mental health problems are not just something you can ‘get over‘. Too often people belittle mental health problems mainly because of ignorance and fear.
I am generally quite a private person however I would like to share something with you as I feel by not being open about this I am contributing to the stigma surrounding mental health. I suffer from mental health problems. There I said it.
I have battled with my demons since my early teens and it is only of late that I have actually sought help properly, before I was too ashamed to get help and admit that I have problems. No one wants to feel faulty or inferior. I now realise that it is okay to not be okay. When I was younger I kind of hoped it would just go away and that may be the case for some people but it was not so for me. I swallowed my pride and my quality of life is so much better as a result.
I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and mild depression. Finally thanks to seeking the help I needed; things do not seem so bad anymore.
I urge any one with mental health problems to seek help if you need it, do not be ashamed – you have no reason to be. Help can come in various guises dependent on individual needs but for me personally I have a counsellor/therapist to talk my issues through with and I take Propranolol and Sertraline/Zoloft.
For some people counselling/therapy alone is enough but I personally need that little extra help which takes the edge off things and allows me to live my life.
Propranolol is a beta blocker that controls the physical symptoms of my anxiety and allows to me to regain my composure in situations where I would other wise fall to pieces.
Sertraline/Zoloft is an anti depressant which increases my serotonin levels consequently improving the symptoms of my depression and my anxiety.
Whilst cognitive behaviour therapy, picking out how I think, analysing life experiences shaping my core beliefs and generally talking to someone helped me; it is Sertraline/Zoloft that really has been the game changer for me.
Sertaline/Zoloft makes me me but so much better. I do not feel so tense, up tight, on edge or as if the world is going to end over trivial things. Before I used to have extremely high highs and extremely low lows and no middle ground – now I have that middle ground that allows me to function day to day. I now no longer feel like it is the end of the world if things do not go how I wanted them to and I finally feel in control of my life. Not to say that is it is a miracle drug that cures all but it works for me, although some days I still feel low – just not as low. My problems never fully go away but over time with help they become much more manageable.
A lot of people take the attitude that by taking medications you are taking the easy way out and whilst I do not think people should take medications unnecessarily, I have to say it is attitudes like that which cause the stigma around mental health in the first place.
Different things work for different people and I refuse to feel guilty or ashamed for needing a little help to function better. If I have to take Sertraline/Zoloft and Propranolol for the rest of my life I will, I am not ashamed and neither should you be. The only people who should be ashamed are those condemning people turning to medication if it helps them. Remember you are never alone.