The following post is a Guest Post from a blogger named Paul Blundell. I asked Paul to share with us today what he learned about mental health, himself, and those around him during what he considers, His Story.
How quickly a year can past, it seems like only yesterday I was sitting in the office of a doctor I had never met before telling him that I was “not well mentally”. It was honestly the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I have never been a fan of doctors at the best of times, to have to admit that I was not coping with life, when looking at it from the outside I should have been happy made me question almost every part of my life and the path I was taking. While I knew a little bit about depression my thoughts and views on this now are very different to what they were a year ago.
The background of this is a long story which is not important at the moment, you can find the details of this on my blog, my focus is very much on the future however I think it is important at times to take a look back to see just how far we have come in a given period of time, in my case this is a year since I was diagnosed with major depression.
What I have learnt about mental health:
I always had a view that depression was something that was caused by a single major event / experience; it was a reaction to “something”, this is true for some people but not me. In my case it took me a long time to realise that my depression was not related to “something” but a lot of “something’s”, some of these were very minor in nature and others were more serious, they created a snowball effect that dragged me down to a very dark place.
Mental health is a very misunderstood and socially “unacceptable” area of medicine. I have seen what seems like hundreds of memes and other photos and graphics about mental health. They almost all share the same message, if you have a well known physical problem like a broken bone, heart issues or diabetes then people are happy to talk about it and help you anyway they can. You never get the same level of support and treatment with mental health and depression. Imagine telling somebody with a broken arm to take off their cast and “get over it”, this happens to people suffering from mental health issues all the time. Somebody who is suffering from mental illness can’t “get over it” any more so than somebody with cancer can “get over it” or somebody can mentally will a bone to mend straight away.
Taking care of your own mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. If you have just had surgery on your leg it would not be smart to try and run a marathon. The same applies to mental health, in that sometimes you need to remove yourself from some situations which you might normally be able to cope with to protect your own mind. Getting other people to understand this is a large part of the battle, both personally and professionally.
Anybody can be affected by depression and mental health issues, it does not matter who you are, what you do, how much money you have, where you live or what your job is.
Everybody who suffers from mental health issues travels a slightly different path; no two people have the same experiences. This can make finding support and understanding even between others who also suffer from mental health issues difficult.
What I have learnt about myself:
1. I am a much stronger person than what I give myself credit for.
2. Sometimes I feel down, this is okay and I give myself permission to do this but I must always move forward and not allow my negative thoughts to take over my life.
3. Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people, I can’t always control what happens but I can control my reaction to it.
4. When I went to the doctor and was placed on medication I was not happy about this, I took the tablets for about 5 months and then stopped them. This was a really stupid thing to do without consulting my doctor. As much as I dislike doctors, sometimes they are right…
5. Medication helped me in the early days but long-term life style changes and most importantly doing more of what I enjoy has had the best results for me in improving my mental health long term.
What I have learnt about those around me:
1. More people experience mental health issues than what you would realise.
2. Some people can be very supportive in the first instance but over time they lose interest in your problems and trying to help you. Imagine saying to a cancer patient “You still have cancer? I thought you would have gotten over it by now”
3. Generally I have received positive support and assistance, at work I sent an email around to explain some of my issues, from this I received and continue to receive good support with a number of people regularly checking on me to see how I am doing.
4. Having now experienced depression myself I can see when other people are struggling and I can offer help where I can.
5. You cannot help those around you until you help yourself, this also works in reverse where sometimes you need to let others deal with their own issues and not load them down with yours. This really is a balancing act at times.
A year on from my diagnoses of major depression and I am still much the same person inside as what I have always been, however now I have a much better understanding of my own mind and some of the triggers for my major depression. I can balance all aspects of my life much better and cope with the challenges that we all face in day to day life without returning to the dark place known as depression.
My name is Paul and I am an AFOL (Adult Fan Of LEGO®), my hobby is LEGO® Technic building and collecting. My main focus is MOCs and customising sets. I have an interest in all areas of the LEGO® hobby and I am involved in Brixhibitions across the state as both an organiser and exhibitor. Be sure to check out my blog, here!