On mental health

Photo by Sasha Freemind Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

This blog's been too long without a new article, though I'd have hoped for a happier topic to talk about.

These past years, I've had heartfelt discussions with friends about self-harm, suicide, anxiety, depression, burn-out and other not so nice things. They opened to me, I listened. I opened to them, they listened. Talking about feelings, experiences, symptoms, thoughts to someone who can find the words or understand yours, breaking the first assumption everyone suffering from various mental health issues has: you are not alone.

You are not alone.

Keeping this pain to yourself for so long, to finally be able to talk openly, shamelessly, is truly freeing. However liberating it is, I rarely could talk about those topics for long as it's mentally draining. But it's always been a relief. Knowing you have people who can grasp your world you can talk to if need be. You have a crutch. Broken, too, but it's support nonetheless.

You are not alone. Talk to someone.

Everyone's a functioning adult. There's no other way. How would everyone cope with life otherwise, silently? People don't talk. In just under two years, I remember talking to 7 different people about our mental health issues. Mind you, I don't have many friends, so, that's quite a lot more than I would have expected. Some were diagnosed, some haven't sought professional help (yet?). It's going to pass, you lie to yourself. It passes. It actually does feel like it passes! In reality, you've just swept dirt under the carpet. And every time it creeps back in, there's less and less room under the carpet.

You are not alone. Talk to someone. Seek help.

I did some therapy sessions a few years back. It helped enough, I thought, so I stopped. Here we are, 4 years later, it's never been that bad. It does not pass anymore. It's there. There's no creeping in. It's in broad daylight. There's no night. I knew it was creeping in back in earlier this year. I asked a doctor for therapy. Covid happened. Postponed it. I was doing fine enough. I had time. I'm not doing okay. I don't have the luxury of waiting months again. I could have worked on it, but I didn't.

You are not alone. Talk to someone. Seek help. Don't wait.

It is hard to recognize you need help. It is even harder to put yourself in such a vulnerable situation, talking to someone you don't know about your issues that you would rather not even acknowledge. It's not a cold. It's not a sprain. It's your brain. Your brain is sick. And for some reason, it makes you ashamed. But there's no shame in having mental health issues. People have it harder than you. You might believe that. You don't need to put yourself on a scale. Pain is pain. You deserve help as much as anyone else.

You are not alone. Talk to someone. Seek help. Don't wait. You deserve help.

Everyone experiences their mental health issues differently. For me, as far as I can remember, it's been a cycle. I would feel shit for a week or two and be "okay" for a few months. Every iteration, the cycle shortens slightly and the "okay" is less "okay" and the shit is shittier. I just don't see it because it's a long process but I just accepted the cycle, the not-so-okay part because it was still better than the shitty part of the cycle. And then the iceberg tipped over and I've more shitty days than "okay" days and the cycles feel like the biggest rollercoaster.

I often have digestive issues, lost appetite or cannot eat much because my stomach complains about whatever I feed it. My short memory is a complete disaster. I can barely concentrate. My brain is working at 50%, taking much longer to read and understand things. It's getting harder to communicate in English. My brain is foggy, my vision is tunneling and blurry. I feel weak and my fingers shake as if I was low on sugar. I have higher than usual heart rate. I feel like anything is a mountain to climb... it's just doing the groceries once a week or go to work. I struggle with coming up with solutions, but once I do, I cannot pick between any of the solutions. I always was woken up by my alarm clock, I now wake up an hour before, unrested. There are no longer longer nights during week-end. I'm irritable. I don't feel joy anymore.

I've been diagnosed again. I suffer from depression, a severe anxiety disorder and a couple of other mental disorders.

I'm getting help, too late, again, but I am. I'll be fine, eventually, or at least much better.

I obviously don't like sharing that part of me, because even though I acknowledge it, I still don't understand parts of it. I share so that maybe it can help someone. I read a few articles in the past, most didn't resonate with me, a few moved me. For some reason, discovering the struggles of Mac Miller, Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan and some more anonymous people's blog post on their mental health helped me understand there are many more people suffering than I thought there were.

I wish society would make talking about those issues easier and more acceptable. Making it normal to talk about the hard times be they temporary or recurrent. There's still this stigma about weakness in acknowledging and talking about oneself's mental health issues. I wish it wasn't so taboo that people don't know how to react to someone sharing their disorder or distress. Heck, even I don't know how to react to other people's struggles.

I wish we were less ashamed to share our struggles so that other people could identify theirs earlier. Going back in time, I can see times during which knowing something not normal was happening would probably have helped me to recognize disorders and seek help earlier.

For French readers, I feel like the "Entre mecs" Youtube series is worth your time. It tries to put on the table taboos among men and discuss them. It's not specificially about mental health but it's a good step forward. A friend of mine really likes "Et tout le monde s'en fout" Youtube channel.

Have a read at Kevin Love open letters: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/kevin-love-everyone-is-going-through-something, https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/kevin-love-mental-health.

This post is vague for the most parts. It's just that I haven't figured things out for myself yet, obviously, otherwise there wouldn't be an article in the first place. It's probably for me too that I write this, taking the time to put words on feelings. A way to start my journey.

Anyway, signing off, there is a "couple" of things I need to work on. Do you too?

Take care of yourself.