Ive learnt that it is really important for me to have an open mind when it comes to treating my mental health, medically. I was scared to take any medications because the trauma I had seeing my mum in the hands of the psychiatric system. Unfortunatley I still have memories of going with her for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). I was still in primary school. It was a very confusing time being a child especially as I had to keep my parents illness a secret from friends. ECT treatment is very controversial and as far as Im aware is still offered to some patients for severe depression. Medications and treatment can positively completely change the persons life around or it can cause major deterioration and the patient is suffering more side effects that are worse than the depressive mood itself.
If you feel that ill with your mood, please do not suffer and leave it. Self medicating with drugs and alcohol is tempting too. Never been there myself yet thankfully. My mum had always been a heavy smoker and sadly lost weight to 6 stone by the age of 38. There was many social pressures and difficulties in the area we used to live. She was under a lot of strain and torment and we had no help from the police. It resulted in two nervous breakdowns and countless admissions into NHS medical and psychiatric wards. I have never understood why care for mental health is separate to psychical health or why people have to go via the accident and emergency department to report a mental health crisis. It all needs changing! Many ‘illness and disease’ has an emotional and psychological route cause and I believe many of my physical health issues occurred because of unaddressed emotional pain. It has taken many years in counselling, research and reading to come to my own conclusions and look more into how I can change my diet accordingly. The medical model not always the only option!
I will also say there has been an abuse of power with psychiatry in my mothers case. I should of trained to be a disability lawyer! I have learnt a lot over the years coming in contact with different health professionals and advocacy services. Historically if things had of been more closely monitored, she may have a longer life expectancy. There is still a light inside of me that wants improvements for people living with mental health challenges and unlike other mental health conditions, like dementia, it is hard for people to comprehend it and work out how disabling it can be. If you say you have dementia, people understand it easier and it doesn’t carry stigma like depression.
You’d be amazed on what damage stress does to the body. I remembered a time when I first felt really unwell with panic attacks when my son was around 18 months and I was very sleep deprived. Sleep is essential and I think I have always had some time of sleep disturbance. Spent a few times in A&E convinced I was having a heart attack. I was determined not to be medicated as of all the different medications my mother had tried and the lifestyle choices that led to her health decline.I got to a point of changing my life and seeking help from other areas to change my circumstances.
I wish I had started medication sooner and got help. Over the years medications have helped at different times and the guidance from GPs has helped me along the way. You have to take full responsibility of your life and what choices you take with health care. If you get into a room with a GP that isn’t sympathetic about emotional health, then get a different one or ask friends and family who they see.Take some in the room with you if need be or speak to the MIND or RETHINK helplines. Don’t feel over ruled or dictated to by a health professional. You need a partnership with your care, not someone trying to tell you how you are feeling or what to do.
I am not medically trained however I know when I am going to become stressed and unwell and I know what my triggers are. I feel medication is important for some of us, but more so are the loving and strong relationships you keep with people. Areas of your life you have control over such as your relationships are critical to managing your health. Feeling close and settled with people is priceless and friendships should be treasured.