Mental Health & I

By Alex Cape

I was struggling to come up with something to blog about as a second go, there is so much that can be said and spoken about around areas of mental health and how it affects day to day life, so much so that it can be hard to just focus on one area. One area I will be blogging about in the near future is around mental health and relationships, however, a common thing people ask me when they find out is – what is it like.

This can be very tricky to answer, there are an abundance of symptoms that GP’s will look for in an initial diagnosis but it doesn’t mean you will suffer with each one. In reality if we take something like depression it can be very different for each person. A quick search on depression listed over 30 different symptoms covering physical and psychological – many of which I have personally never had to deal with. It also is not a diagnosis that came about easily, in reality when we looked over my long term medical records there were 5 ‘episodes’ that they would now determine to be depressive episodes. I also didn’t help myself in the past by taking myself off medication.

It is not something I live with on a constant basis – although managing it does take constant work in things like mindfulness, medication and talking therapy, I am acutely aware now that if I do not take my medication I can feel a change in my mental state. When an episode does appear I usually go through the same symptoms. I do not find joy in anything, I am a keen rugby player and when I am well I enjoy work. These two areas of joy are sucked from me, so much so that I cannot physically bring myself to do either.

This is not just about being tired, but feeling hopeless, with the voice in your head telling you that you are not good enough, that anything you do will ultimately fail – and so I retreat to my room and my bed and I don’t move. I am not ashamed to admit that during these bouts I will just break down in tears, for no reason at all – which is not something I am used to. These are just a couple of the tell-tale signs that I am in depressive episode, but when it gets really bad the scary part of depression comes out, it is the suicidal thoughts, the planning and the self-harm that shows me how dangerous depression is – I have felt all of these within the past 18 months. The last major depressive episode started last October and probably did not end until late January, it took a whole load of will power and fight to get out of that, and also help from other people. Sadly though, during this period I missed out on a lot, I ruined relationships and treated people in a way I do not like to look back on. However, that is the past and I cannot dwell on it. What it has reminded me about is how indiscriminate an illness this is, it has also shown me that I should not be afraid to seek help and to talk to people. We men are not always the best at seeking help and that is probably why we see these horrific stats around male suicides.

I am not perfect, there are times in the past where I could have done more to help myself, I could have gone to a GP sooner, I could have spoken to friends sooner, I could have opened up to my ex sooner and my family. Had I done these I may have been at this point in my life a lot sooner. I am under no illusions; I expect depression to rear its ugly head again, the difference will be how I deal with it from now on – knowledge of the symptoms helps, and some of the scars I have from past bouts help to remind me that things will get better and to stay on top of my mental and physical health.

Reproduced with permission, originally published here

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