Tuesday 10th October, 2017.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been sniffly little sausage. My eyes have been itchy, my throat has been croaky, and I have had zero energy. In simple terms, I’ve got (as my daddy would say) ‘A brave dose of the cold’, and it’s resulted in me throwing myself a massive pity party (i.e. I’ve eaten a disgusting amount of chocolate, and overindulged in my new staff discount perks at work).
I complain about being sick, and yet there is a seriously simple solution- acknowledge that I’m run down, and rest up. It should be so easy. Instead, I’ve picked up extra shifts in both of my jobs every time my bosses have asked, exercised hard, made a million plans every evening, and so I’ve done the opposite of ‘rest up’.
I know that I’ll only get better when I face up to the problem, and look after myself.
It was about this time 2 years ago that I noticed that something wasn’t right- my anxiety was up the left, and I was having these weird, intrusive thoughts which were making my life pretty miserable. Instead of facing the problem head on, and looking after myself, I ignored it and went to France for my Year Abroad*.
*NB: Going on a Year Abroad while you’re not well is not advisable. Do-able, but difficult and probably just an altogether a bad idea.
Roll forward one year- there I was, going into my final year at uni, everything steadily worsening. I was very aware that the stuff going in my head on could be attributed to three pesky letters- OCD- and yet I ignored everything, putting my head in the sand and trying to plough through mountains of essays.
To say that that didn’t go well would be an understatement.
The problem was there- I should’ve acknowledged it. The solution was simple- I knew what I had to do to get better. But did I do either of those things? Not a chance.
Roll around October 2017, and I’m sick. But I’m a different kind of sick, and thankfully, the cold is a lot easier to shake off than a mental illness.
The thing about mental illnesses is, they are just that- an illness. Many people, myself included, are too quick to pretend everything is fine, hoping that it’ll just ‘go away on it’s own’. But like a pesky cold, they require work; when you realise what’s wrong, you need to take the necessary steps to get better (the necessary steps being opening up to someone, going to a doctor, and receiving the correct treatment).
To fight this cold, I’m getting through a lot of tissues, Lemsip and Nurofen. Similarly, to get through my OCD, I also had to get through a lot of tissues (cause seeing a therapist is emotionally draining for an emotional wretch like myself), and take medication (although admittedly, Nurofen wouldn’t quite cut it in this case, so the doctor had to give me something slightly different).
If you feel like you’re struggling with some kind of mental illness, whether it’s anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or maybe you’re a fellow OCD sufferer (in which case, welcome to the club! It sucks, but at least you’re not alone- yay!) then please please please please PLEASE talk to somebody about it-whether that’s a parent, someone in your family, your bestest pal or your bae, just talk. I promise that you’ll be taken seriously and listened to and loved. And if you don’t know who the heck to talk to, or how to start that conversation, then my inbox is always open.
It won’t be long til this cold is gone, and these snottery tissues in my bin will be remnants of sniffles from a day gone by- although goodness, let’s hope I take my bin out soon because germs, yuck?! Seriously though, in the same way this cold will get better when I look after myself, my OCD got better when I looked after myself. It’s not gone- it never will be- but that’s fine. It’s manageable at present, and while it still creeps into my vie quotidienne, it doesn’t consume me how it used to. Put it like this- this time last year, I was unable to get out of bed most days, trapped by fear and uncontrollable anxiety panicking down the phone to the loveliest minister you ever did meet, and then crying to le boyf that everything was too hard and too impossible and ‘I’D NEVER GET BETTER THIS IS WHO I AM NOW WAAAAAHHHH!’ Things got better.
But they only got better when I confronted the problem, and got help.
It’s probably the day after World Mental Health Day- i know what I am like in terms of scheduling and meeting deadlines, let’s be serious- and I’m really thankful that all I have to deal with is a crappy cold. Life has been, and could be worse. But it breaks my heart to think of all of the people out there who don’t feel comfortable enough to open up about what’s going on with them. I just hope that by hearing that other people share their experiences of mental illness, they’ll have the confidence and the courage to be honest with others and perhaps more importantly, with themselves, about the fact that what they’re dealing with can’t just be shrugged off and ignored.
The point of this very long-winded, most likely boring blog post is that, like the good ol’ common cold, mental illnesses don’t get better until you look after yourself a bit better. So please, be kind to yourselves, keep an eye on the people around you, and don’t be afraid to talk about your own struggles to make other people feel less alone in their battles.
I love you all very much,
(PS- Super duper excited because John Green’s new book, Turtles All The Way Down, was officially released on WMHD2017!! I got my copy a day early, and cannot wait to get stuck in. It’s about a girl with OCD, just like me! If you want to know a bit more about mental health literature, or see other posts I’ve written about MH issues, click on one of the links below.)