It’s ok not to feel ok

It’s ok not to feel ok

 

I had as huge relapse a year ago, completely burned and washed out. For several days, I couldn’t wash, eat or feel. I lost interest in things that were once so enjoyable and those closest to me were rarely on my mind. I felt neither happy nor sad. I just felt empty and numb, and my future was bleak. For weeks on end I could feel it coming, but tried my hardest to brush it to the side, believing I’d overcome it. I also felt ashamed.

Everyone around me had seen me do so well. I had raised a lot of awareness aswel as doing a public speech, I didn’t want to let anyone down. And so I continued, with my cover-ups, the fake smiles, the laughter and the songs, not wanting anyone around to see I’d failed. Until I could hide it no more. My mind hadn’t just given up. But my body too. I was exhausted.

The day before I was readmitted to hospital, things were bad. Really bad. And the worst thing about it, I had means. Means to deliver a fatality. Someone who knew me reached out to me. Spent a significant amount of time on the phone to me. But she did something that a lot hasn’t. She listened. She listened thoroughly and patiently, while I let it all out. She didn’t protest to me that I’d a loving family, a roof over my head and food on the table. She didn’t tell me I was selfish for thinking this way. She understood the invisible illness that a lot don’t.

I came to find that this was something that I’d never experienced before. In the past my difficulties ranged from a quick shift in emotions within a small amount of time. I would have been on top of the world one minute/full of joy to wanting to die/feeling extremely depressed within an hour. The instability in my emotions had my life for a long time extremely messy and I was a regular visitor in the A&E department following a suicide attempt. People around me couldn’t understand it. I mean how could they? One minute I was loving someone and the next detesting them. Black and white thinking it’s described in a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality disorder, aswel as numerous other disastrous symptoms. The odds for my recovery and indeed survival were extremely low. Those around me had come to accept this. I had accepted this.

Mental illness affects the way people think, feel and behave. It doesn’t matter their social or financial backgrounds. Robin Williams is a prime example of one of the many misconceptions people have. It affects people regardless of their age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, with ugly statistics showing that at least ¼ in Northern Ireland will be affected. People diagnosed with a mental illness have mostly gone through some type of trauma in their lives. Just like physical illness and how a bad impact to your body, leaves you with not so good outcomes. So it’s not chosen. People do not choose to be depressed. But people have a choice to show empathy, to become educated, to be non-judgemental.

We cannot continue to brush this ubiquitous matter under the carpet. We have to talk about it. Normalise the conversation surrounding our mental well-beings. We have been brought up in societies that have taught us that children born out of wedlock is wrong, homosexuality is sinful and being depressed is weak. We cannot continue with this. We have to give our future generations hope. We have to teach our young people that it is ok not to feel ok and it is absolutely ok to ask for help. We have to let our young people know that they are loved and accepted for who they are.

Three years ago after a long decade of complete misery and a non-existence life, I made a decision. To turn my life around, for the better. It wasn’t an easy decision, as the life I had been living was normality for me. But I got stuck in, was open with my medical team, was open with myself. I set myself some goals, with one of them returning to college last year. I had an ambition to help others. Young people. People that had been through traumatic events and couldn’t see the light. I’d also completed an award in counselling that summer and I found some voluntary work.

An opportunity then came to speak at a suicide prevention event on my personal experiences. I spoke. I openly and honestly shared my battle with mental illness to a few dozen people. The media attention followed and my story had gone a bit viral. I was contacted by numerous people with similar stories. Some were young people. Some were mothers of teenage girls. Some were grown men. It was heart wrenching the stories passed onto me. I, as a person, as a human, felt I couldn’t ignore them. I wanted to help them, provide them with some hope. Unbeknown to me, I was psychologically abusing myself. I was taking on stress I didn’t need, on top of everything I already had. This continued for a number of weeks, with the odd phone calls in the middle of the night to distressed, suicidal teenagers. Then I became involved with another mental health organisation. I was again, taking on things that were unrealistic at that time in my life. I hadn’t ‘lived’ prior to this and so I had been grabbing every life opportunity that came my way. I was trying to do the undoable. It was all too soon for me.

I had also started to drink more than my usual self. I was going out during weeknights, neglecting my studies. Neglecting myself. I had fell into a deep and ugly depression. However, this was something very much different than previous experiences. The depression wasn’t lasting a couple of hours. It was going on for weeks.

I remember someone calling this; ‘Depression is my friend and not my enemy’. I could never understand why. Why anyone could ever call such a horrible thing their friend. But now I know. There’s sometimes I think to myself, I’ve just turned 30 and yet I have been through so much, and I wonder why? Why me? But you take away my dark times and you take away my ability to emphasise, my conscience, my intuition, my creativity, my keen awareness to others pain and my passion for it all. Without my dark companion, I couldn’t possibly be a better person.

It was 13 years ago when I first took unwell. I did not know if it was ok not to feel ok, and I certainly was scared of asking for help. It’s scary reflecting back on all those years, wondering what if? What if I had of accepted my illness? Accepted my past? Accepted my pain? Accepted who I am? Would I have been writing this today or would I have been healed? The truth is, strangely enough, I’m thankful for it all. I’m thankful for all of the trauma. I am thankful for all of the shit I went through. I am thankful for the bullying in the classrooms. I am thankful for all my scars, both visible and invisible. They’ve brought me to where I am at today. I am here on purpose, for a purpose and with a purpose.

The bottom line is; I am not my illness. I am however, what I feel, think and do. In order to fully heal and recover, I must change the way I think about myself. I must accept who I am, without the shame and guilt. I must make peace with my past. Forgive, let go. I don’t want to be someone I’m not.

I have always believed that authenticity brings out the best in people. That’s what I look for in others. I must be authentic also. I’m in competition with no one. I have no desire to be better than anyone else. I just strive to be better than I was yesterday. I’m not going to let this darkness define me, I’m so much stronger than that. I don’t want to be known as that ‘girl who tried to kill herself’. Because in fact, I’m the woman who wants to know how you’re doing. I have had people come to me telling me I am so brave and inspirational for publicly speaking about these things. I am not. But I tell you the bravest thing I have ever done, is continued to fight this battle, when I have wanted to die so many times. That is my bravery.

It saddens me to know I am not the only one going through this, because this is a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. As I write this, I think of another friend who I lost only a few weeks ago, again to the silent killer. Please I beg to anyone who is feeling sad, low, depressed or suicidal, please seek help. Talk to someone you trust, a friend, family member, teacher, or phone one of the helplines. There is no way back from suicide. I have been close but I have been lucky. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There is nothing that can’t be fixed or changed. Happiness is achievable.

I will continue my campaign to speak out about mental illness, self-harm and suicide, and how it’s affected me, to encourage others to do the same. But for now, I must take time out. I must be selfish in the nicest possible way and focus on me and my journey to recovery, before I try to help someone else.

Apologies for the long post, and if you’re still reading, fair play! This story needs to be told, because it’s a story I needed to hear over a decade ago, for reassurance, to know that I wasn’t alone. So if anything of this relates to one person, no matter how small, and gives them the courage and strength to go and seek help, well then my struggles have been worth it.

It’s ok not to feel ok and There is Never any shame in asking for help.

 

Nicole Devlin

Twitter: nicoledevlin29

It’s okay not to be okay. And it’s certainly okay to ask for help.

I’ve became more and more passionate about mental health now, more so than ever. I don’t know if it’s because I have my own personal experiences of it or if it’s because it’s still a taboo subject to talk about and I know it shouldn’t be or a bit of both. Whether we like it or not, mental ill health, suicide and self harm are becoming more increasingly at large in our society, it’s a growing epidemic, with suicide, self harm and depression at our very own doors. If it is not you, yourself personally suffering from it, it’s your sister, brother, son, daughter, cousin or your friend and unfortunately that’s the current statistics in the country we live in. So what are we going to do about it? We have to break the stigma.

Having any unseen illness is a struggle and for obvious reasons. Some say mental illness is not a physical illness, which I disagree slightly, how can the brain not be seen as physical? And yes it’s easier for someone to understand if you have an illness when they can see the pain you’re in, such as having cancer or a broken leg. With these unseen illnesses it is hard to explain on any given day why I can’t do what I need to, or why some days I am able to do these said things. As someone who has had these issues longer than not, I am unaware sometimes that people take me at face value and as I appear “well” or “normal” to a certain extent people can often disbelieve if told or just can’t understand as I am not in a straight jacket, rocking in a corner, dribbling or fit into any other misconception people have about mental illness. So this can prove to be very distressing in our world. As a survivor and someone who will not give up, I am left with the only option and that is to share my story, educate and break down these rigid ideas of what mental illness is. Mental illness does not mean you cannot have a life, friends, family and a career. However it does mean you may need to alter your opinions on what social norms you wish to follow or like myself hope to create a diversity in our society that will accommodate us all better. Such as attitudes towards work, money, health care, relationships and appropriate behaviour. These are all areas which may need to be reinvented and philosophised to draw the best conclusion to your life. You will still be met with certain attitudes and archaic beliefs.

Top 10 Worst Things Said To A Person With Mental Illness:

1. “Don’t tell people you have mental health problems, they will not understand.”

2. “You always seem so happy, confident, well…. I can’t believe you have a mental illness.”

3. “Everyone feels like this sometimes.”

4. “You were fine an hour ago.”

5. “Stop focusing on the past, negative, bad times….”

6.”Get over it!”

7. “You would be fine if you just went out.”

8. “Your illness is a state of mind.”

9. “Stop mentioning your illness, it brings people down and makes you sound like an attention seeker.”

10. “Look at you, crying over that, you’re weak.”

I still find the stigma hard to live with, whether it’s someone being nasty to you through their uneducated, disrespectful attitudes or the media delivering and influencing society with disheartened, incorrect journalism entries, and therefore I feel this makes it a lot harder for people to seek help about their problems, and unfortunately this often leads to suicide because people are afraid of being stigmatised. Become educated on the topic, you need to because it can affect anyone, no matter who you are or what you have. Look at Robin Williams for instance. There he was, this man who had the ability to make the world and everyone around him laugh, his wallet was never empty, he had a loving family and friends, a successful career, how on earth could he have possibly been so sad? That’s what we need to look at and understand. This is real and the only way we can prevent it and help others is by openly talking about it in our homes, schools, work places, and to allow that person to gracefully accept it without feeling shameful or weak, to feel supported and encouraged to know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Living with a mental illness everyday is just a fact of life. I don’t feel bitter or unlucky. All I wish for is that the world would open their eyes and see it for what it is and accept people with it. We are all on this planet and we all deserve a voice and consideration. My wish is to stop negative associations with mental illness, to break down the separation between mental and physical illness, to allow people the freedom to speak of their illnesses in social and work settings without the fear of stigma and unfair treatment. I also would wish for it to become a compulsory curriculum in our schools, where we can give our youth and young people the chance to learn about these problems, to recognise the signs and given the opportunity we all solely deserve to receive the help if needed.

I can only hope in time this subject will become more acceptable to talk about and hopefully there’ll be more educational workshops on it to prevent unwanted tragedies.

Very appropiate statement on Borderline Personality Disorder and its meaning.

jessicasborderlinebipolarcoaster

What is borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that causes intense mood swings, impulsive behaviors, and severe problems with self-worth. It can lead to troubled relationships in every area of a person’s life.

Most of the time, signs of the disorder first appear in childhood. But problems often don’t start until early adulthood. Treatment can be hard, and getting better can take years. Problems with emotions and behaviors are hard to improve. But with treatment, most people with severe symptoms do get better over time. ~ WebMD

Ok, so this is the part of my diagnosis that I don’t know much about but reading some of the symptoms and behaviors of it, I can relate and see that there is no doubt that I indeed have this illness. To be honest with you, I feel a LOT of relief with this being diagnosed. It makes me feel validated. I am starting…

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‘Splitting’ & ‘Black and White thinking’ – my experiences with it..

The Mad Hatter

BPD, good old Borderline Personality Disorder. Always there to give you a reason not to understand yourself and how your moods can change without any seemingly obvious trigger, out of the blue, any time, any place.

I know I have idealised and then devalued people in the past. It’s like I put them on this unrealistic, perfect pedestal of love that no human being could possibly attain and when they don’t, it hurts me, I’m disheartened, I feel unwanted, unloved, disgusting, useless.. Lovers, friends, family members, work colleagues and so on are in the firing line off this. When I first meet someone or I am connecting with them, I literally want to spend all my time with them, right from the start. Everything they say fascinates me and I often find myself preoccupied whilst being with them, I think they are absolutely wonderful and the sun shines out of…

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