No one is immune from having a wobble with their mental health just as no one is immune from having issues with their physical health.
The difference is that humans are happier to speak up about a physical health complaint compared to a mental health complaint.
10th October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. Mental health has become a more prominent feature in the media now than it ever was before. There is more awareness about mental health and work is being done to destigmatize mental health. It is however still a huge problem. Humans by our nature do not speak up about things that are going on inside our brain. This is mainly due to fear or embarrassment, that you won’t be taken seriously or you will be laughed at.
Living with a chronic illness like severe asthma and the complications of having such a severe form of the disease my mental health has been affected for a number of years in varying degrees of severity. I am not surprised my mental health has taken a knock. My asthma has just now pretty much destroyed my life as it has taken away my career, my ability to play sport, my ability to eat the foods I want to, my hobbies and most recently my mobility.
I was diagnosed with mild depression a number of years ago and have taken medication for this. I have also been seeing a psychologist for a number of years to help me manage the impact my asthma has had on my whole being. I am very fortunate that I have access to a psychologist to help me make sense of what is going on.
However there are a number of aspects in my life that I find I cannot talk about that do really impact on my mental health. They mainly impact my mental health because I feel like I had no closure from them and felt like I was not taken seriously. I am going to take the plunge now and briefly speak up and hope that by speaking up I will feel better for it.
- I was bullied at work by someone that was senior to me. I tried to speak up about it but this was not taken seriously. There was a 3 way conversation between the bully, myself and our boss where the bully just made me feel like it was all my fault and I was actually being disrespectful by not doing what I was told to do etc. I wish I had never spoken up about it. A lot of friends at work knew she was doing this and saw the way she treated me but in the end it was made out that it was my behaviour and I was rude because I refused to speak to her. The truth is I was terrified to speak to her because I didnt want to do anything wrong. I loved my job but for a time I really hated it because I was made to feel like a small child who didnt know what they were doing. This still haunts me regularly even though this all happened a number of years ago. I just wish I never spoke up as it would have made life a bit easier because nothing was done as a result of speaking up.
- The second thing also happened at work. Someone I used to know called Nicole accused me of accessing her medical records and then sharing this on social media as well as trying to get her care stopped and apparently I had done other stuff too. I recently received a message from someone who kept themselves anonymous who said my bosses didnt believe me over what I had done and that I almost lost my job because of all the evidence they had. I didnt even know I had done anything and also was never told I was going to lose my job. I was never shown any evidence they had either. I never really got over this accusation because I went through so much stress and upset at the time and it was found that I had not done anything. The bit that I found hardest was that it was a false accusation and I never received any apology from my accuser. It put a fear in me that anyone could cause a lot of problems to you because you are a nurse and anything you do that someone doesn’t like could be reported and investigated. Even if you have done nothing wrong you go through all this stress but never recieve an apology or anything when you are found to be wrongly accused. Then getting this message bringing up all the history again has put me on edge feeling very anxious which does not help my asthma. I just want to shout about this and tell people to beware that there are people out there who want to cause you pain. This has stayed with me and I don’t think I will ever get over it.
- The other big issue in my life that I found I couldn’t talk about was my sexuality. I knew I was gay from a young age but didnt know what it was and didnt know why I was different and didnt fancy boys like all my friends did. But I was at a boarding school and in an all girls house so I never ever mentioned it and tried to pretend that I fancied guys but I felt so awkward. I still find it very difficult to talk about and there is no reason why I should. Part of my doesn’t feel accepted by some of my siblings. The majority of them really don’t care but there is the odd one that will still make quite homophobic remarks but if I say anything I am told to stop being so sensitive and it was only a joke. But it is not a joke. It makes me very introverted and part of that has made me not go out looking for a relationship. I desperately want to settle down with someone but cant put myself out there
I find these things have really negatively impacted my mental health. Often people tell me that I am so positive and just get on with life but the actual truth is I am putting up a front. I do not want people to see how low I am and how much help I desperately want. Because I am so scared of asking I recently wrote to my GP to ask for help as I am too scared to ask in person because I have this voice in my head telling me I am young and not that unwell so don’t need the help that is out there. The help is for those who really need it but I am tired of fighting through my life and fighting through each day to just get myself by.
This is probably the most open I have ever been about some of the struggles that really plague me. There is one huge aspect that I have not mentioned but I think it is because I have come to terms with it and while it is a very complex situation it is not affecting my mental health.
Mental health effects everyone differently. Some are very open about their mental health and advocate for others much like I am a severe asthma advocate they will be global mental health advocates or condition specific advocates speaking about their story and their journey with a specific condition.
I hope one day I will be able to speak about the struggles I ahi with my mental health as openly as I am able to about my asthma. It is not that I am ashamed of having some struggles with my mental health but it takes a back seat when my severe asthma is up front and central all the time. Because the asthma is so serious it is always the priority and needs to be dealt with so every other aspect of my health physical and mental take a back seat.
I hope with this blog post I have been able to help people understand a bit more about me and see that I am not always the positive one. There is more to me than the smile I put on.
I need to take my own advice when I say mental health is just as important as physical health. If you don’t seek help for management of either they get worse and become harder to manage the longer something goes on.