I think it’s about time we all started talking more openly about our mental health. In person, online, where ever we can. It shouldn’t be a taboo and the more we do speak up, the more “normal” it will be… even though we all have mental health.
I’m not doing okay. Last week I worked over 50 hours, a mix of 5am starts, night shifts and 9 hour shifts without a break. Work for me is a problem. I just don’t know when to stop. I can’t stop working. Work is a huge part of my social life as I have many friends at both of my jobs, but it’s also a chance to speak to new people. I get lonely. I’ve grew up in a very social house and have lived in places with lots of people, but in the last year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I’ve felt isolated, forgotten, unwanted. I’ve made new friends but I’ve also become very distant to a lot of my old ones. Fallen out with, grew apart, or simply they’ve moved away. My best friends from school live in Scotland, Oxford, Birmingham and Cambridge whilst I’m residing in Chester. As a five, we only get to meet up all together about once a year and whilst it’s always a joy, it can be really hard all living so far apart. Because of my depression, going out and making plans is a daunting thought, so because I have to go to work, it forces me to socialise.
However, I really don’t know when to stop. My mental health has been going down hill for a month or so now. Work is a distraction but also detrimental. This morning I cracked.
After a very long shift yesterday, I decided to stay for a few drinks with my new work pals to celebrate a girls birthday. As I literally know no one in Chester, I am really trying to make an effort to make new friends, even though it can be hard. Socialising physically drains me, so, like my old self used to deal with anxiety, I’ve turned back to the help of my good old friend alcohol.
Now I’m not an excessive drinker, but I drink very regularly, pretty much every day. It could be simply a glass of wine with my dinner, or it could be a bottle and a half after an awful day battling anxiety. Now I can’t handle my drink. As well as being a lightweight, I’m also on SSRIs which it’s not recommended to drink on. Alcohol is also a depressant.. I have depression…. really not a good mix is it? I usually drink in the house. I’ve stopped really going out drinking now unless it’s for an occasion, as things can go pretty wrong. Which is what happened last night.
Whilst out, I was determined to make friends. I just kept drinking to numb the social anxiety and the big weight pulling me down. It started to work, but then it had the opposite effect. I just got too friendly with people…. a work colleague to be exact. I’ll let you fill in the blank on that one. But I also hadn’t eaten for hours, I was on the brink of tears but was ridiculously hysterical. I ended up scratching all my arms pretty badly, cut all my knuckles and yanked out my hair. This morning when I got up, I just sat on my bathroom floor and sobbed. I rang my mom. Whilst I was hungover so emotions were heightened, this wasn’t just a little bit of tears. My whole world felt like it had come crashing down. I felt like a failure. There was no way I could go to work. All day I’ve just been crying, but no words would come out. I’ve just sat in silence holding on to my blanket for deal life (yeah I’m 22 and I can’t go anywhere without a blanket). In the end, my mom had to ring my manager…. but you can’t say “her mental health is really bad today, she hasn’t been taking her medication, she’s relying on alcohol and can’t string a sentence together” can you? Just a lie of “she’s been sick and is a bit upset because she’s let you down”.
Why do we still have to lie about mental illness to workplaces, friends and even education? Why?!
That little black hole is returning and I feel myself falling deeper into it. My anxiety is through the roof. I’m teary. I’m lost for words. I simply want to sleep all day and all night. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to take my meds but I know I need to. I just don’t feel like they’re doing it anymore. I’m watching the world go by while I’m stuck in a rut. My friends are achieving, working, reaching goals. They’re getting married, getting a house, buying a new car. I’m sitting on my kitchen floor eating out of a saucepan and paying for a bottle of milk with loose change because I have no money to my name. I earn it and it goes straight back out. I can see my ex’s loving life without me. Friends having fun without me. People moving on. But I’m not. I know everyone’s life isn’t all glory and joy as it appears, but when you’re depressed it feels like nothing can make your life as good as theirs.
I’m falling back into old habits. I haven’t been to the gym. I’m struggling to even have a shower. I cry when I splash coffee on the worktop. My moms been brushing my hair because I just find it too exhausting. Life is shit right now. But I don’t want it to be.
I’m going to sign up for the Doctors. Sort out my meds, sort out my torn up skin. I’m gonna go to the dentist because I’ve neglected that. Gonna get my eyes tested. Going to go back to counselling. I’m gonna go to the gym and start riding my bike. I’m setting goals before I’m too deep in the hole again. It’s really hard and I’m really struggling but depression is a bitch and you’ve just gotta fight it as best you can.
I will be okay.
Please talk up about your mental health.
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.