August 18, 2014

Warning, this blog may be triggering for some readers.

Naomi

Hello I’m mad, mental, a looney tune, a nut-job, doolally, bonkers, a fruit loop or crackers – pick any. 

I personally like to call it wonky brain syndrome. And I can call it what I want to as it’s my brain. It's not politically correct but I’m not offended by words. I find these words actually more of a term of endearment to myself.

Mental illness is shrouded in stigma

Living with any mental illness is tough. It’s shrouded in stigma and smeared with negativity so most people keep it hidden away scared of what others will think. That sucks. We shouldn’t be worried about what other people think. Be proud of who you are, mental bits included. I was always told not to show emotions or feelings or talk about mental health ‘issues’ as this shows you to be a weak person. I actually think to be able to do this is a sign of strength, not weakness. Yes I have a wonky brain, and if anyone has a problem with that it’s their problem not mine.

Everyone's mental quirks are unique to them

Everyone’s mental quirks are unique to them. We’re all different even though people try to put us into neat boxes. Do you suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder? Well actually I’m quite greedy and have a tiny little bit of everything. A mental health buffet.

Depression? What have I got to be depressed about? Nothing – that’s not how depression works. I go to work, study for a degree and look after myself and my daughter. How can I do that if I’m depressed? Depressed people suffer and function in various ways. For me I paint on my functional face and act the part – fake it until you make it. Some days I make it and some days I don’t. This can be quite draining and sometimes requires a down day under a duvet watching Murder She Wrote to reboot myself.

My brain likes to play games with me

I’m not suicidal but most days it wouldn’t bother me if I died. This is very difficult to explain if you are not in my head. This is how detached I am to myself. It bothers me that my loved ones would be upset though and that is why I’m not suicidal. But hey, the plus side is that if you’re ever in a hostage situation with me and they start shooting I will take a bullet for you as I value your life more than mine. Win.

I have many anxieties due mainly to my over thinking and distorted cognitive processing in my brain. My silly brain likes to play games with me and distort information like a melting kaleidoscope. I cry when I go down the escalator at Waterloo underground station as my brain tells me I’m going to fall and plunge to my death – I know logically this isn’t going to happen but my brain overrules logic on occasions. Many occasions. If someone tells me I’m stupid, ugly or useless, my brain confirms this as truth and then adds more insults. My brain throws selective OCD out at me; my DVDs have to be in chronological order yet I can leave my washing up undone for a day. Or two. Basically my brain is an idiot.

Being open about my mental health was the first big step

I am learning to live with this idiotic brain though and have many coping mechanisms. Being open about my mental health was the first big step but one I would recommend taking.

Tell someone. I don’t mean just go up to a random member of the public and tell them ‘Hey I’m mental’, although they would probably panic and agree with you pretty quickly, but talk to a friend or family member or anyone you feel comfortable with. Talk to a doctor if you think you might need more specialist help. Talking about mental health is a huge step. It can feel very daunting but once you’ve told people you have mental health issues it can feel incredibly liberating. The more people talk about mental health the less of a taboo it becomes. BT got it spot on with their advertising catchphrase ‘It’s good to talk’ – oh, they weren’t meaning mental health?

Accepting that I have a wonky brain and embracing it is the way forward. Fighting my wonky brain and trying to pretend it is all neat and tidy is unproductive. Instead I will be working with my brain to be the amazing person that I know is hiding inside and I know that because we are all amazing in our own wonky ways.

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