Oh God, I am writing about mental health again (I am sure my modest following and by modest I mean handful of friends that read my blog are rolling your eyes collectively). I mean, what else do I have to write about when I am moored with my mind that isn’t in the greatest health. I am not quite Tom Hanks and Wilson (young people will now be googling this reference – its the movie Castaway) but in another week I might be outside naked with my head shaved off. If you have the misfortune of witnessing this, please don’t film me – I fear the clip would go viral, maiming the population with blindness.
Oh yes, I said I was writing about mental health again. I was thinking about all of the things I am grateful for today (my family, my car, my job) and I realised that I am uniquely grateful for not just the state of my mental health (which isn’t the greatest) but also the fact that I have a platform to discuss the state of my mind.
I have had anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember – dating back to childhood. I was afraid of the dark, I was afraid of dogs, I was afraid of that my parents would perish in a car crash inferno, I was afraid that I would die from choking, die from appendicitis, die as a result of brain cancer, that the plane I was in would crash into the water, the school bus would be hijacked. And these are the thoughts I had before 12 years old.
In adolescence, the anxiety lulled with the exception of fearing I would be beaten up or jumped (which actually happened) and confirmed my anxieties. I worried about failing, so much so that I failed one year of school. I worried about my parents financial status. But these worries were manageable.
As a young adult, I managed my anxieties and when I was 22, I fell into one of my lowest periods – it physically pained me to speak. Although I am not what you would call stable, I don’t feel the level of despair I felt 20 years ago. When I attempted suicide, I didn’t have Facebook groups. I had a mother and father desperate to hide my illness so that shame would not befall me.
I now have outlets at work, at home (my mother has always been a source of strength but discussing feelings isn’t exactly her thing), I have friends that I have only met virtually and bonded with over shared experiences.
The Millennial generation ushered in with a breath of transparency that I was denied years before. I went to appointment after appointment, telling employers that I had to follow up on lump that had been biopsied (in my defence, this was true but I elongated the process in shame). When I was signed off from work for two months, my boyfriend at the time dumped me (no surprises here that it was the Jamaican) citing my declined attractiveness due to the potential of my unemployment (I kept my job). To be fair, It is a miracle I didn’t kill myself years ago with the non-existent support network I had.
Now, I am free to to take mental health days, I can litter the internet with my experiences and not have to anonymise my past. I can tell a stranger I feel sad or down without someone telling me sternly to get out of the doldrums.
So today, I am thankful for my challenges and this blog and platform to share them. I don’t have to hide that I am scared of the future and worried about the health of those I love or those I hate (all three of them). As we go into another week of uncertainty, let us remember the road that brought us here and God spare life and limb, the one that will take us out.