Make sure it ends with you still living…

What exactly is the definition of someone living their life? Everyone has different interpretations of it, and this is something that I have come to realise as I get older. Even at 32 I look at the life of my 20s of what I deemed the definition of this being, and whilst I look at it from a completely different and more matured mindset the end result is still the same. I only ever want to be happy and content with my life and the people in it. The obligatory FB NYE memories come up, and I always seem to be ‘finding myself’ after losing myself for whatever reason that year. I’ve been lost since 2006 it seems!

I was diagnosed with MS in 2013 at 24, just shy of my 25th Birthday…the day before in fact. Happy Birthday, here’s a progressive disease to set you up on your impending quarter life crisis…one that hung around for the majority of my 20’s with all honesty. I was already in a dark place at this time, and having a lifelong disability thrown onto me made it all the harder to see my worth, qualities, MYSELF. This was made all the worse when I was struggling with my self identity as it was, so the day I woke up blind in my left eye and unable to walk was seismic in its ridiculousness. I had 4 months of symptoms, feeling like I was falling apart, and having zero explanation to it all so I just the faced that I was doing fine. I was just fine. I am over reacting to that left side paralysis, double vision, looking like I was drunk when I walked, going dizzy, and my foot flapping in what was a cascade of one symptom after another, and not to mention the mental implication of all of this at the time.

Today (10th October) is World Mental Health Day. A day where anyone and everyone unites with their mental health, in whatever context and the battles they are going or gone through. I could never imagine writing anything regarding my mental health say, 10 years ago, or as little as 5 years ago if I was to be brutally honest. The awareness with my own mental health all came to a head around 8 years ago. I was in an utterly stressful job I hated, weird sh*t was happening to my body with no explanation (this was in the 4 months pre MS diagnosis), I was broke, was trying to please everyone, and medicating myself with whatever was going (mainly alcohol). I was saving face a lot of the time. Or so I thought. It is only now that I realise it was patiently obvious that I just wasn’t dealing with all of the life stresses which came to a head in Feb 2013 following an overdose of a concoction of an entire pack of antidepressants, paracetamol, half a litre of straight Bacardi, and a new tub of vitamin C tablets. The latter sounds utterly ridiculous, right? Attempting to overdose on Vit C. But when you are in that mind set of just not knowing yourself and mind you will literally do ANYTHING to take the pain away, even for a moment. I had often thought about ways to ‘end it’, that had crossed my mind many times over the months, but even that in itself would require the energy that I simply did not have. It wasn’t until after I had taken that cocktail of pills and alcohol, I realised what I was going through for the first time. Yes, a dramatic and dangerous way for such a realisation to hit, but that cry for help finally hit in hazed call to my mother, which resulted in an ambulance coming out to me and being admitted to the hospital. Did I want to end my life? No. Did I want to end the pain that I was going through both mentally and physically. Yes. Did I know of another way to highlight what I was feeling other than doing what I did with the overdose? No. And that there lies the problem, and why World Mental Health Day is so important in raising the awareness and the olive branch that it is OK to feel like you’re losing control of your mind at times. 

I am now in a clearer mindset and with my depression under control following counselling (which I still have in an ad-hoc basis with the most recent being Nov 2019), the appropriate anti-depressants (something that I am not, and never will be ashamed of saying that I take on a daily basis), and most importantly finally having an explanation for what is happening to my body. I know what it is like go feel like you are the only one going through any situation, and I can’t stress enough that you are not. There are always a set of ears out there for you. Whether you choose to sit there in silence with them, scream, blub, reason, or calmy talk to. They are there and they are attached to someone who is more than willing for you to utilise them. Myself included.

Whilst yes I do still get those overwhelming mental health waves at times, I am now aware of the many ways to take care of my mind when I feel that wave of emotions come crashing. Do feel that my depression will fully go away? No. It is something that I learn to live with through the many resources and support networks that I have taken on over the years. It reared its ugly head last weekend for example, which involved me blubbering away in a voice memo on the WhatsApp group to the besties, which then, with their support and encouragement lead to me opening up to others. Something that I wouldn’t have done if mental health wasn’t the platform that is today for everyone use. We all take on the advice we give each other, mental health is universal. Well, it certainly is in our little group. Do I know what caused my mental health blip? Nope. I just weren’t feeling OK, I was overwhelmed and needed to a good cry. I needed to let people know what was going on. With the utter madness of 2020 especially, it all gets on top of you at times and in my case when I was eating my cornflakes.

After a couple of days, I had dealt with the wave of emotions that had come over me and am back to enjoying my cornflakes tear free.

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