Welcome to week 11 – my mental health.
If you have made this this far then you’ve heard my 10-part series on my life story. Or you could be completely new to this so once again, welcome!
This week is covering mental health. What is looks like for me and reflection on your own mental health.
My diagnosis is common so many people can relate. It’s great that in our mental health community online so many receive support but there’s also a lot that don’t. And outside of that, who supports you when you’re not on social media?
I work in mental health and find many clients to be isolated and deteriorating because of same.
It’s my job to help them in their road to recovery through mentoring, psychosocial support, engaging in community and finding a house and/or job. The latter is hard because my case load is high risk and complex including suicidality, self hard and addiction. I take it one day at a time and praise progress.
So how does being a high functioning mentally ill person help others that have a mental illness? Great question. I have my days.
It’s honestly like being on a roller coaster. I have bipolar 1, PTSD, OCPD, Panic Disorder and anxiety. Obviously I can’t help others without helping myself first so it can be a struggle.
I have a big support network behind me: counselling, psychiatrist, partner and family & friends.
I take medication daily which has been the biggest help but that has been a long journey in itself. For the first time in 12 years I’m on medication that works well for me. Some days it doesn’t work but it’s not guaranteed to always keep you stable unless you’re on zombie meds that keep you in a state of constant fatigue. So, the combination of medication and counselling benefit greatly.
Lets break down my current status on my diagnosis:
• Bipolar 1: my moods are manic as ever! I have been at baseline for about a month which has been great but ever so boring. I long for the highs associated with hypomania but I engage in risky behavior when doing so. I feel so high and invincible that I can’t come down. Nothing else matters and none of my other illnesses come into play because life is so fantastic when you’re buzzing. I don’t sleep and I don’t feel tired.
But the highs come with the lows. I become quite flat. Like nothing matters any more. I don’t talk to anyone and I shut down.
So baseline is a safe place to be in but I know I’m at baseline when the panic disorder and paranoia sets back in. No winning. I also hallucinate and fall into psychosis but thankfully haven’t had psychosis for almost a year.
• PTSD: this is a hell within itself. If you have viewed my previous blogs on my life story (weeks 1-10) you’ll see I didn’t get away unscathed. Triggers here, there and everywhere. Nightmares, paranoia, fear. They’re all factors. My PTSD is much better managed in comparison to a few years ago. I still have triggers but they’re managed quite well all things considering. The fear is there though and it’s real. I switch to flight and fight mode pretty fast. I dissociate frequently too and couldn’t tell you how long I do it for – never timed it.
• Panic Disorder and anxiety: this is the worst! Constant flight mode. This is a daily battle. It’s so crippling that it affects about 6-8 hours of my day. I take a PRN if I can but if I’m working then I just have to sit with it. I do try mind over matter, self-talks and that works for the most part on my mind however, my body is a different story. Shortness of breath, jaw and body shaking, heart rate increased, stuttering, stiff joints, hyperventilating and so on. It has its own routine, mess me up after lunch till I take my meds at night and feel relief. But like I said sometimes I take a PRN and then I’m sweet as. No horrors then.
• OCPD: if I can’t control something or if it isn’t done to my standard then my mind has a meltdown. I need structure and for things to go as planned. When they don’t then I lose my shit internally. Medication and acceptance help with this. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” sort of thing. I actually have the serenity prayer tattooed on me so I always refer to this when in doubt.
So, there you have it. Despite all of this I manage to keep a job down. I do what I’m most passionate about which helps a lot. I have mental health days off when needed but also work reduced hours so I can have self-care. Self-care for me is studying or going on an adventure. I need that balance otherwise I wouldn’t survive. I couldn’t work full time with my illness, been there before and failed. My current situation works well for me.
Matters are made worse for me due to physical health issues but that can be covered next week.
What does mental health look like for you? What do you experience? How do you manage it?
Share the discussion on how you cope. If you aren’t coping my door is always open and I’m happy to refer you to the right services if you live in Australia.
Want your story to be told on an anonymous platform? Send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, through Instagram or Facebook and I your story can be told without any stigma.
Thanks for reading.