What does the picture of mental health look like to you?
There is so much awareness around mental health now but how does it truly look and feel. Everyone who experiences mental health challenges will tell you their experience is totally different.
I have personally struggled with depression and anxiety but before I get into that I want to address a very sobering fact about depression.
Did you know that someone with severe depression (the suicidal scale of severe) can be so physically debilitated that it is the equivalent of a quadriplegic attempting to get out of bed and walk? So would we tell someone who physically couldn’t walk just to get up and get on with it – NO! So why do we expect it of someone with depression to achieve the same feat. It’s a very sobering comparison and helps to put a measure on this consuming condition as it seems, as a society, we are still more empathetic towards someone with a physical ailment than one with a mental one.
I have had a pretty interesting journey with my mental health – I have actually been hospitalised twice for two week periods with horrible anxiety. The whole condition is soooo bloody physically exhausting – your body is in such a hyper state of awareness that you are walking around completely tense, your body like its run a marathon yet it prevents you from sleeping. It’s a vicious cycle and any mother can tell you sleep deprivation is the worst!
But want I want to share is what hospital really looks and feels like, I think people still have the misconception of ‘mental asylum’ or the ‘nut house’.
There are people in there from all walks of life – Mother’s, father’s, successful businessmen, corporate managers, students, older people, business owners. For some like myself, we are still functioning just in a place of exhaustion and emotional pain. We haven’t addressed the effects of life’s traumas or stresses – childhood abuse, domestic violence, family fighting, bullying at work, illness of a spouse, illness of a child etc etc. life has become too much and we need a safe place to break down, seek support, adjust medications and find some peace from whatever pain we are experiencing.
Then there are others – almost catatonic, so sad, so debilitated by their mental health they have lost jobs, can’t get out of bed, had their families turn their back, medication isn’t working. What these human beings need is not judgement from anyone, they need compassion and understanding. Some are facing long stints in hospital in a quest just to find some happiness. Some people are getting electro shock therapy, others are getting TENS which is electro treatment through the use of magnetic currents to help recalibrate their brains in an attempt to fight mental health. This is a 20 course treatment of 4 weeks – it’s so tough so anyone who says mental health is weak has no real idea what they are talking about.
Hospital is not a place to be ashamed of – it’s a place that is so helpful to people who need it. It works and it helps people find some well deserved joy and peace in life.
I have also experienced post natal depression with my first born and all I will say about that is it’s so unfair!! If robs you of everything you should get to feel as a mother, takes away those precious moments in the early years, makes the walk of motherhood extremely heavy, makes you feel disconnected from your loved ones. No woman particularly after carrying their wonderful babies should have to experience this. As a society we need to be asking mothers ‘are you ok’ more often – not just how the baby is or telling new mothers particularly that this gig is hard and sleepless – well thanks captain obvious!!
Listen to the mothers around you, are they different, do they seem sad or disconnected or overly worried all the time. Our bubs will be ok – as our mummies will make sure of it – but are our mummies ok?
Mental health is so much more than just talking about it – it’s doing! It’s holding someone’s hand even when they have nothing to say or offer you. Would you have the patience to do that for someone?
I can name a few in my life and that’s all I need!