Depression lived curled at my feet takes approx 7 mins to read.
“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands. And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again. “
Mental health problems
I come from a family beset by mental health problems ranging from addiction to alcohol, prescription pills and illegal drugs right through to depression, paranoia, anxiety and much of the rest.
Some of us have faired better than others over the years. I count myself one of the lucky ones.
My father went to his grave a chronic alcoholic dying in a tragic accident. My Mum went to hers still plagued by anxiety and fear. They weren’t alone, the generations are littered with casualties, unhappy relatives, not able to break free, never finding peace and contentment with living
The origins of all this lie hidden in the mists of time. Past generations unwittingly passing the baton down, unaware or unable to do anything except hand it on. Ancestral trauma often haunts future generations without them even knowing they exist. They inhabit our cells; our energetic make up is imprinted with these histories whether we like it or not.
Added to this come all the systems, expectations, rules, values and beliefs of the communities and countries we have been brought up in. Woven amongst it all lie our own unique experiences of human life. Some are good, some are definitely not.
Our degree of mental health is a reflection of all that has come before.
Mental illness is not something we can snap out of. We cant just pull ourselves together. The process of changing mental distress takes a lot of work, support and determination.
Unlike physical illness or disease we cannot see who is suffering.
- Did the person sitting next to you on the bus consider throwing themselves under it before they got on?
- Does your boss loose his temper because he’s out of his depth and cannot cope anymore?
- Does the Mum sitting in the park with her kids drink herself silly every night after she puts them to bed?
We do not know.
What we do know
What we do know is that the world is full of people who struggle to make it through each day, barely coping and sometimes feeling like ending it all.
I was one of them.
I spent years and years feeling like I would be better off dead. Every day felt like wading through treacle, impossible to get through.
However from the outside my life looked good. I had-it-all, career, husband, job, house, car, holidays the bloody lot, and I can tell you none of it, not even having kids made me happy or want to be here.
The guilt I carried around was huge and I concluded that there must be something seriously wrong with me. How could I be so fortunate, so lucky, so privileged and still feel so desperately unhappy?
Depression lived curled at my feet, always there, waiting. I never knew when it would take over. Slowly a thick black smog would envelope me, swirling around until I was lost in a sea of pointlessness and hopelessness.
You wouldn’t have known any of this though, I kept it hidden. I always hid on days like that.
The feelings swamped me as I cried out for the world to stop, I want to get off, be beamed up, out, away, to be anywhere but here.
All this I say, so you know, I know.
Mental Awareness Week
Today is the start of another Mental Awareness Week. A week is not enough is it? We need mental awareness every day, all day. We need it at the forefront of everything.
Mental ill health is not something a day or a week or even a month can sort. It is a process we enter into, a journey through healing what has happened to us, what happened in our families, communities, countries and sometimes like now in our whole world.
Many people feel like I did. Perhaps you are one of them, believing there is something wrong with you, that you are a loser, useless, pathetic, a waste of time and space.
I am here to say you are none of those things. There is nothing wrong with you. Their never was and never will be. You are not to blame, it is not your fault.
Something happened to you, maybe lots of things.
It could be obvious, like counting an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score we can tick off abuses, traumas or omissions. Other times though the reason for our mental struggles and distress are not so obvious.
It can take time and gentle, accepting support to untangle what has happened. Teasing out the ancestral influences, the origins of limited beliefs, and the impact of the world is a process.
It’s ok not to know or understand any of it. It’s ok to feel a fool, embarrassed, ashamed and confused.
All you need to know is that you want to feel better and then to do something about it.
I first went to see my doctor over 33 years ago. I was sick with shame and terrified. Over the years I have sat in 12 step programmes, support groups and therapists offices. I’ve done weird, whacky and crazy things to try and feel better, and now I do.
The change was gradual, incremental, sometimes barely noticeable till one day I realised I largely felt ok. Life is not perfect, it has it’s ups and downs but on the whole I feel calm, settled, and content with my life. What a blessing.
I guess it’s no surprise therefore that I believe change is always possible. It is and I am living proof. I want to encourage others to give it a go. Our world is a mess, it needs all the help it can get so why not start with ourselves. When we feel better we bring a better energy to the world and we help make it a better place. This is Radical Self Care in action.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
How to seek help:
Do you know someone who has changed, ask them what they did? Go online or to your local library and look for support groups, 12 step programmes, councillors or therapists. Read books, join organisations, research.
Have a look through my blogs, see what resonates. You are not alone, help is out there, go find it.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here, in blog posts and on the website Change Is Always Possible are those of the author Mairi Stones alone, and do not represent the views of any associated bodies. We do not diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Information provided in this blog is not intended to substitute advice, treatment and/or diagnosis from qualified medical and nutritional professionals.