Originally, I was ashamed about struggling with my mental health. I spent the first year trying to cope alone. I thought I was lying as I couldn’t believe that anyone could feel this level of pain without imagining it, so it was difficult to reach out.
Before I experienced mental illness for myself, my knowledge of mental illness was zero. That all changed in 1997, when I found myself in a very dark place. A lot of unpleasant experiences occurred at the same time, which resulted in my feeling that I could no longer cope with life. This resulted in a mental breakdown and began a journey which lasted for about 10 years. There is no doubt that I was severely mentally ill. However, once I was aware that there was hope for the future, the recovery process began.
I’m on edge pretty much all of the time. I’m calm when I want to be. I have a constant need to be organised. I don’t mind leaving my clothes on the floor. I become snappy when I’m in a supermarket for too long. I crave distractions. I’m sometimes reckless. I’m the walking-talking definition of a teacher’s pet. I have dyed my hair so many times that my natural hair colour probably won’t come back. I recently decoloured my hair. I enjoy sending drawn-out emails to anyone in my contact list. I’m annoyed by mass emails. I trust the loved ones in my life.
We all know someone who experiences anxiety. A friend, or a friend-of-a-friend. That ‘flaky’ someone who turns up late, or cancels last-minute; who often seems on edge; who takes forever to make a decision; is overly worried what others might think. Maybe a colleague who takes random days off; or struggles with sudden changes of plan. I could, of course, be describing you. If so, welcome to the gang.