As many people may have noticed I have been absent from everything for the last 1 ½ years. This has not been a choice. I have been suffering from severe anxiety and depression. Although only now it was formerly diagnosed, looking back I have realized I have been experiencing it on and off fot my whole life. Not only has this been the worst time of my life but it has also been equally as hard for friends and family, who have had to witness things I would not wish upon anyone.
Now, after the most serious episode I have experienced, and my 3rd hospital admission, I feel, very slowly, I am finally coming through the other side. I am not saying this for any attention, or for people to feel sorry for me, but to make people aware of how people suffering from this terrible illness would like to be treated and the little things that mean the world to us.
As this is not a physical illness and people cannot see what is going on, some people find it even harder to relate to and deal with. People are scared to damage or set us back even further – the truth of the matter is, it is worse when things are over thought or kept from us to protect us.
Here is a list of things that have touched me some are big, most are small but they have meant the world:
- Knowing someone is there even if just a text to say ‘hello’. It is amazing how quickly people suffering can feel no-one likes them, cares anymore or that they are a burden.
- Little notes from close friends and friends I have not seen for many years – again just knowing someone is thinking of you.
- Photographs to remind me of the good times.
- Going for walks – fresh air makes the world of difference, but taking myself out on my own proved impossible.
- Going for a drive – just to see life going on around me
- Being allowed to talk openly about how I am feeling with no judgment, knowing I am being heard.
- But also acting normally and talking about everything going on in your life, to distract from the thoughts going round in my head
- People understanding what I can or cant do, without feeling excluded.
- Just having people around and knowing they are there.
- Having someone else making decisions and plans so I don’t need to worry about that as well.
- People recognizing what could trigger my anxiety and taking me out of potentially stressful situations.
- People offering to visit me at home or in hospital. Although I may not have always responded or taken people up on their offers, please know that just offering made me feel less alone.
- Giving me little things to do – colouring books, friendship bracelets even just nice pens and stationary as journal writing has become my lifeline.
- People just sticking through it all with me so I don’t feel alone.
- Just asking how I am.
Flowers and chocolates went without saying – thank you all!!
Although the journey to get to the point of being able to write this has seemed impossible at times, I have also met amazing people on the way. To meet and have the support of people on the same journey, who totally understand has proved invaluable. Even through the darkest moments we have even managed to have some laughs, in a way you could only have with people who understand 100% what we are going through. This support network is something I will take with me forever and is the best thing to have come out of this awful experience.
On a final note, thank you to everyone who has been there for me (family, friends, nurses and therapists) – I could not have gotten to this point without you all. If I do experience another set back I will always remember my nurse singing to me the line to the Aaliyah song “dust yourself off and try again” which has now become my go to motto if I feel low or anxious - it reminds me we can get through it.