“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2003, I now know that from my early teenage years I was struggling with depression, and the self harming that I did to myself was caused by depression. I am now being treated for major depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, and general anxiety disorder. Since my diagnosis in 2003 I have faced many challenges – lack of confidence and self esteem, for a long time finding the right medication(s) and treatments, working with depression, fighting stigma, bullying and discrimination because I was depressed, loss of family and friends, psychosis, attempted suicide, panic attacks, counseling, being a psychiatric patient, the lack of support for the mentally ill, electro convulsive therapy (ECT), retrograde amnesia caused by ECT, these are just some of my challenges.
I honestly believed that if my depression and self harming had of been taken seriously by those around me that knew then I would not be in situation I am in today and I would not have suffered for so many years due to the severity of my depression. I lived in a family where you didn’t talk about your problems, you didn’t show affection, and often things that were happening were swept under the carpet so they were out of sight out of mind. My self harming was one of the things that went under the carpet, never to be talked about and no help sought. I often think about if I my Mother had of sought help for my depression and self harm then the extent of what I am going through would have most likely been minimised.
My first attempt at suicide occurred in 2005 it resulted in me being in ICU for two weeks and another week on a hospital ward. This was the time that my parents refused to be there despite Doctors telling them early on that I might not live. The only comment my Mother made was when I was still in hospital and well enough to take her phone call was ‘stop being miserable and snap out of it.’ It was the comment that made me stop having anything to do with them, it was the fact that they didn’t see a need to attend the hospital. I guess with me out of sight the reason I was there was out of mind. I was discharged from hospital with no referrals to doctors, psychiatrists or any other medical professional that could assist me with my mental illness.
For a long time I struggled with my mental illness, the impact it had on me personally, and in my social and work life. I faced bullying and discrimination from work colleagues who chose to use my mood as an excuse to give me warnings, cause me significant problems, issues, and eventually caused me to leave two places of work because of the treatment I faced because of my depression.
For many years my GP tried different medications and combinations of them, he referred me to different types of counseling, but I didn’t feel any reprieve from my mental illness.
In October, 2012 I attempted suicide for the fifth time, what followed was the biggest challenge of my life and one I never thought I would ever get through alive. I wouldn’t have survived and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my soul mate who fought for me when I couldn’t and ensured that I receive appropriate treatment for my mental illness. For two long years I faced time in psychiatric hospitals for months on end, I under went a lot of ECT which caused retrograde amnesia, I started seeing a psychiatrist, started group therapy, went on significant medications, and completely lost my way.
Without my soul mate, time in the psychiatric hospital, time with my psychiatrist and GP I would never have made it through these two years. While I am still ill and struggle on a daily basis, I believe that I am some what on my way to recovery, whatever that might be. This road has not been easy by any means, and I often veer off onto a side street but things are easier, there are good days and less bad days, and after over two years I have returned to work. Life has started to really improve for me, my soul mate and our little family. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this journey, think about and worry about depression, remember the impact it has had on my life, and the fear that things could so easily turn around and go backwards.
I don’t know at what point I started to think about mental illness and the constant battle that those with these illnesses face on a daily basis but I started to tell my story through my blog Sad Mum Happy Mum. I was and remain determined that nobody should have to face the issues, barriers, lack of help and support that I have faced in my lifetime because I have a mental illness, and I didn’t want this kind of treatment to continue for anyone. So I started my blog, I write about my experience, my life with depression with the aim of increasing awareness of mental illness, breakdown the stigma attached to mental illness, and to provide a safe environment in which people with depression can feel they can tell their own story and know that they are not alone in their fight through mental illness.
I never imagined the support and feedback that I received from day one of my blog, it continues to truly move me that so many have read my blog and have taken strength from my writing and used it to get help. There are many more projects that I have in my mind that I want to do for people with a mental illness and to stamp out stigma, but I am taking baby steps.
Recently, when I saw the Blog for Mental Health campaign I knew that I wanted to be apart of it to help the cause and those with mental illnesses. So here I am pledging my commitment as I write about mental illness, depression, anxiety, bipolar and the experiences I have and continue to face in my life as I live with this illness.