I began this blog in 2015, as a way to journal and reflect on my various activities and thoughts during a difficult time. I enjoyed writing about heritage events and conferences, but this then transformed into a more personal blog showcasing my thoughts on mental health, coping strategies and as a way to also showcase some of my writing- which was, and continues to be, a great help during the hard times.
So enough of these euphemisms- my belief is that if we are to effectively help those experiencing a difficult relationship with their mental health, we must smash the stigma around talking about it. So, what do I mean when I say difficult times?
I had been diagnosed with depression when I was 17, but in reality I knew I was suffering a lot earlier. I attended university, without having giving enough consideration to my health, both physically and mentally. It was after I sought real help in 2016 that I was formally diagnosed with the following:
‘Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.’ – Mind
Borderline Personality Disorder
‘BPD is an illness that makes you feel distressed and affects your relationships with other people. Around 1 in 100 people have BPD. It seems to affect men and women equally, but women are more likely to have this diagnosis. This may be because men are less likely to ask for help.
It is called ‘borderline’ because doctors used to think it was on the border between two different disorders. They now know this isn’t the right way to describe it, but the name has stuck.’ – Rethink Mental Illness
This is the biggest one I’ve had to try and understand, as it is diagnosed by meeting a certain number of a given set of criteria. Therefore, everyone’s BPD is usually very different. I’m yet to work out whether this is a good or bad thing- it means if something doesn’t work for me I don’t feel so much of a failure, but then again it can make you feel even more isolated.
‘Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling that we all experience at times. It is a word often used to describe when we feel ‘uptight’, ‘irritable’, ‘nervous’, ‘tense’, or ‘wound up’. When we are anxious we normally experience a variety of uncomfortable physical sensations. As well as this, anxiety affects us mentally too. For example, when anxious, we often worry for large periods of time, so much so that our worry can feel out of control. These worries are often about a variety of issues and commonly our mind jumps quickly from one worry to another.’ – Moodjuice
I know many who read this blog already know about, are familiar with one or more of these. The (not so) fun thing about all of the above is that each involve a mixture of symptoms, and all thrown together can produce huge unpredictability in emotions and actions.
This blog is really my cathartic way to encourage myself and others that it is possible to have a life full of amazing, wonderful happy things, even if you have experienced difficulties with your mental health. Let’s not forget that it affects 1/3 of us. Look around you. Pick two other people. Statistically one of that group will have some difficulties with their mental health. That’s a lot of people- and we still don’t want to talk about it.
So I enjoy baking, cooking, archaeology, adventuring and travelling, and I hope my blog will be full of these things. I’m not a trained professional, I can’t give you all the answers, but I can at least share some experiences.
Look after yourself. Look after each other. Be safe. Talk.
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