Thursday, 12 July 2018

Having A Support Network For Someone With Mental Health Issues

When you suffer from mental health problems, you feel like the world is caving in on you. Sometimes you cannot see a way out. When I had severe PND after Tilly was born, I was lucky enough to have an amazing support network. I was reminded of this today when I spoke at a conference. Although that whole time of my life is still raw, I was so lucky to have the support network around me, that I had. 

I had my family, not my parents but my brother, my aunt and uncles, my cousins and most importantly my kids. Although they were still teenagers themselves, they rallied round to help with me and their baby sister. This has created an incredible and unbreakable bond between Tilly and her older siblings. I know there is still a taboo with mental health problems and every day, more people are speaking out about it - which is fantastic, because they needn't do this journey on their own. I asked my son, who was 16 at the time 'Are you embarrassed about my mental health? What do your friends think?' He replied with 'Mum, they think you are the coolest mum'  I will never forget that because it made me realise that parents are bringing their kids up with the understanding of mental health that they need. 

I had my colleagues, my manager was a new manager to me. She had come to work for the store when I was on maternity leave, so I didn't know her as well as the other colleagues. But when I went back to work, it was a struggle. I was trying to be a good mum to a baby and hiding my mental health issues. Until one day, I told her that I needed to quit. She did something that I will never forget, and this is why I have an amazing friendship with her now. She told me that if I quit, then it would be something I regretted for the rest of my life. It would mean mental health won. She offered to drop my hours to 4 hours a week. It would give me something to leave the house for, once a week and it would give me a break from being a parent. She then put support in place for me to carry on working. If I had quit, that day. I would have regretted it because I am still working for the company now and I still love my job just as much. My other colleagues, all rallied round to help me through it. I didn't want sympathy and they knew it. They would joke with me and make me laugh to the extent that you would never know I had the problems. I never actually felt alone when I was at work. 

My friends, they were fantastic! but some walked away. I told one friend that I kept hearing voices as part of the psychosis that I was experiencing and she just laughed in my face. Maybe it was a misunderstanding on her part of mental health, maybe it was ignorance. It took a long time for me to forgive her. Mental health is something we should be able to talk about with everyone. Other friends were amazing and they are the kind of friends you all need in your life. It's the Sam's, the Lin's, the Eileen's of the world that keep you going when your world feels like its imploding. Of course, there are many other friends, but too many to mention. I hope they know I will be forever grateful for the help they gave me. 

The medical support is a crucial part of helping you through your mental health journey. Speak to your GP, no matter how hard it is, no matter how silly you think it seems. Me telling the doctor that I checked the paper every day to see if I was in it, seems strange now. But at the time it was normal behaviour for me. He referred me to a psychiatrist, which scared me at the time but I was more scared of my own mental health and what it was doing to me. So I went along to the appointment and he had so much empathy and understood what I was going through. He didn't blame my childhood and he didn't bring up my past. He talked about the now, he talked about how I was afraid that I would push my baby under a bus by accident. He was understanding that I thought a tidal wave was going to engulf my little seaside town when there was almost no chance of that ever happening. He listened and he helped me. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar, which was why my PND had been so severe. If you're not eligible for a psychiatrist or you can't find the time to go and see one, these days you can even get access to a Psychiatrist online, by clicking the link it will tell you more. That is how easy it has become to seek professional help these days. Whether you need an appointment in the middle of the night, when you're feeling your lowest or in your lunch hour from work, there will always be someone to help you. I struggled to find childcare when I saw the psychiatrist, so this would have been perfect for me. 

Whatever mental health issues you have, there is always someone to help. You can always drop me a comment on the post or use the contact me form. You also have support groups like Rethink, Mind and The Samaritans. They offer round the clock help if you need it. You should never feel that you have nobody to turn to because there is always someone who will understand. 

*collaborated post*

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