Potential new series for you all, discussing subjects that shouldn’t be labelled as taboo, and yet are still seen as something that should be kept quiet. A lot of the things I want to talk about will relate to experiences I’ve had at university, however can equally be applied to any stage of life. Although I will be being fairly open, please do anticipate that specific details will be kept private. So here we go, I’m going to use five FAQs that I’ve encountered, addressed to myself and others, regarding mental health.
Q1: Do you have a mental health condition?
Yes, I do. To be somewhat more specific I have diagnosed forms of depression and anxiety. The reason I specify diagnosed is that these terms are often misconstrued, and sometimes the severity of using the phrase ‘I feel depressed’ is not addressed, or is used as an exaggeration. The understanding of mental health is still growing so, without an official diagnosis, many sufferer’s voices go unheard.
Q2: How do you actually know there’s anything wrong?
In the beginning, I didn’t! It’s a tricky thing to decipher for the sufferer and those around them. A chemical imbalance in the brain usually isn’t immediately obvious. For me, it was a case of major changes in motivation and happiness, as well as a new low in confidence. Suddenly situations I used to be fine with, such as noise and crowds, became unbearable. However, it was only until I talked about it with others that I actually understood that something really wasn’t right; other people did not constantly feel the way I did, and that’s why my family helped to search out some help.
Q3: What help did you get or have still got?
The journey of seeking help can often be a long one; in some ways I’m thankfully to have entered the system as a teenager, as I was seen quickly, and I’m so grateful for that! For me, my journey started at the GP, and after two appointments being referred to a mental health unit. This started with therapy, CBT, and eventually progressed to medication. Although I do not receive therapy anymore I do still take medication; another thing that I believe needs to be talked about more, and should not cause anyone to feel ashamed. Medication is to fix/aid a problem, you’d take it for a broken leg, wouldn’t you? However, having said this medication isn’t for everyone, and your care will be tailored to you by a professional.
Q4: How does medication help you?/What does it do to you?
Medication impacts everyone differently, however for me it balances out extreme emotions. Imagine a scale of feeling, ranging from 0 to 10. My mental health condition means I can experience manic emotions, at both ends of the scale, giving me a scale of -10 to 20. For me, medication takes my scale back to the normal, in most cases; this doesn’t mean I don’t dip into a depressive episode, for example, every now and again, but it prevents this being a constant in my life. Like all medication there are side effects, which include tiredness, nausea, weight gain etc, but overall, I find the positives outweigh the negatives.
Q5: How does your condition impact your everyday life?
I’d say my condition doesn’t necessarily have major impacts every day, however, that’s because I’ve adapted my lifestyle to accommodate my mental health. For example, I try and have a schedule for every day, I write things down I need to remember (as my memory isn’t great, especially short term), and I avoid situations I do not enjoy if possible (I don’t need to go to loud and busy clubs, so I usually don’t!). Sometimes I’ll have an episode of emotion that means I’ll have a very unproductive day, or I find myself in an anxious situation, but generally, with management, my mental health doesn’t stop me anymore. Telling people can sometimes be strange, but it’s necessary and really helps me in the long-run!
I realise I haven’t delved into great detail, but hopefully you have a better concept of how mental health can impact you and those around you. I’m going to leave some links for students at the university, or anyone wishing to access help, or just learn a bit more about the subject of mental health.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!
- Mental Well-being at UoL: www2.le.ac.uk/offices/mental-wellbeing
- NHS, Accessing Mental Health Help: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices
- NHS, Information Pages: www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth
- NHS, List of Mental Health Helplines: www.nhs.uk/conditions/mental-health-helplines
- Mind (Charity), Information (Mental Health Disorders and Treatment Methods): www.mind.org.uk