So there I was. I remember when I first became unwell I was scared to tell my friends, my family. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know how to say it. I asked Jord if he could call my sister, who could tell me Mum. I asked him to phone his Mum too, and to tell our friends over the phone. I couldn’t face saying the words. I couldn’t face them.
I’ll never forget being in A&E explaining how I felt to professionals and my loved ones crying. I felt devastated that they were going through this too. That they had to see this. It sounds strange but I don’t like to need people. I want to be able to do things myself, to be strong and to be independent. I love my family and friends and want to be around them but I want to be able to be alone too.
The thing is sometimes in life you need people around you to help you. Even if your stubborn as hell like me, you can always get through what life throws you on your own. When I was first admitted to Nottingham Mother and baby unit (MBU), I didn’t want to come out of my room. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to talk to people, I didn’t know what to say. Depression does that. It makes you feel like you need and want, to hide away. That’s what it did for me anyway.
But the thing is, despite being terrified, as soon as I started coming out of my room, talking to others, just sitting with other people, I felt a little bit better. I realised being on my own, with just my thoughts, it was lonely. Exhausting. I needed people around me to say “keep going, you’re doing great” I needed that reassurance. And sometimes you need to just walk away from a situation that is distressing you. But you can’t do that if you don’t have anyone around you to watch your baby for you, or to try feeding them or burping them.
Anxiety made me doubt myself and I asked a lot of questions when I first became a Mum. Google is great but there’s nothing like somebody standing beside you saying, “yeah, this what I did, have a go. You’re doing a wonderful job”. No man or woman is an island (About a boy reference there – great film!), we need people sometimes, and that’s okay. It was terrifying talking to my family, my friends but as soon as I did, I felt a little better.
Some people do still find it uncomfortable to talk about Mental Health. Some might talk a bit more quietly or they might avoid eye contact. But that doesn’t mean we should stop. We shouldn’t. If anything it means we should talk about it more. To get past that. To get to a place where it’s considered “normal”. To walk past someone and say – “oh I heard you’ve not been very well, how are you now?” As simple as that! It shouldn’t be something we are afraid of.
I remember my community nurse said something to me that has really stuck with me. She said about how you don’t have to tell people you were ever unwell. It’s true, if you’re ever unwell, you don’t have to tell everyone. It’s not something you need to talk about with everyone if you don’t want too. I chose to write about my experiences to help raise awareness and because it’s helped me so much. But you can still raise awareness and talk about these things without making it personal. Without sharing your own story. It’s a part of your life but it’s not a part of you. It’s not who you are. People can’t just tell by looking at you that you’ve had a very hard period in life and you don’t have to share it with those who you don’t want too.
The good thing is, I think we’re getting to the stage now where everything is easier to talk about. And know this – needing people, it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t mean you are not brave. Mental illness is not about being brave, you cannot just wish yourself better. You can’t say to yourself – “right I’m going to stop feeling like this and start being brave”. I, personally do not think it works like that.
So there we are. Stay tuned for another one guys. Sorry it’s been a little while. There’s some more stuff coming soon.
Love, Kate. X