My mental health melt down is reducing my carbon footprint and here is why…

Being stuck in bed with a relapse is not ideal, nor fun. I have experienced a minor bump in the road….or is it a big fucking pothole! I don’t know yet and I won’t know I guess until I am a few more weeks into it, but hopefully, by then I will be out of it. Then yes I can call it a bump.

Having a relapse is not a very fun time. For me or for anyone else who supports me ie my husband and my mother. They have to get on with their normal working day. While they also take on board my health and wellbeing. It’s like having a child around the house. If my husband is on shift then he takes me to my mothers who works from home. That way she can keep an eye on me. Not really a lot to keep an eye on though when I don’t move far from the bed. Then when the husband has finished work he drops by we usually eat dinner together. So that is one less thing he has to take care of, cooking. Then he packs me into the car. He jokingly asks ‘how was daycare today?’ Then we go home to bed. Where on a good night I stare at the ceiling until my increased meds kick in. Or on a bad night get up and party around the house until 4 in the morning working on some amazing new idea I have just had.

It is times like these that I find the hardest to keep my sense of humour. Lots of really shitty thoughts try to break into my head like – you are such a burden to everyone, what your Mum and husband have to put up with is so unfair. Yada yada! I won’t go on I’m sure you get the point. There are plenty of other blogs out there you can read about the self-despair felt during a mental health relapse.

So this morning when I was having a shower (yes I am still showering so technically winning) I had a wee chuckle when I was able to convince myself that having a mental health relapse is actually helpful to the planet (remember I like to use humour when dealing with my mental health, and it’s my mental health right!? So I get to deal with how I see fit). That is right! My mental health meltdown is reducing my carbon footprint and here is why:

  1. I am currently not having to drive to work every day and so reducing the amount of petrol I am using.
  2. When I go to my Mum’s for so-called ‘daycare’ my husband takes me on his way to work therefore we are carpooling.
  3. No lunchtime shopping for me currently – a drastic reduction in buying unnecessary crap
  4. The amount of food I am consuming has reduced, so the amount of food being brought by us at the supermarket has also.
  5. We are eating together as a family. Therefore our food is made and cooked in bulk. Less wastage.

So there you have it! My mental illness might mean I am not doing so well at the moment but the environment is winning…well a little anyway.

Ultimately this is how I know I will be O.K. because I can still make something that is totally shitty mc shit shit a little funny.

 

Pity party for one? How to keep it ‘real’ and suffer from a mental illness at the same time!

Having a mental illness can make you a selfish shit, but it is not your fault. Those chemicals bouncing around your brain misfiring or not firing at all can lead us to become really focused on ourselves and our own doom and gloom. Pity parties aren’t a lot of fun. But they are definitely thrown in this house when things aren’t going so well. That is why when you are well enough to look outside of yourself and read the news (I avoid the news when I am really sick, as I don’t need to continually worry about what North Korea is up to) or reach out to your friends and find out what is going on in their lives. You will without a doubt find out that people are worse off than you. You can use this to reality check yourself and keep it real.

Today I read about a woman who has three children and has incurable brain cancer. Yep, I’d say she has it worse off than me. She has to contend with chemo, and radiation, brain surgery, and little people. I just have to take pills and try and get myself out of bed. Hands down she wins. This is of course not a competition but a really good opportunity to be able to reflect and be grateful for all the good stuff that you have in your life.

I am grateful for:

My husband who is my tower of strength and my rock.

Having a warm, dry, comfortable home to live in.

A stocked pantry.

Not having to worry about bombs exploding when I walk out my door.

That I keep reasonable physical health.

Having savings in my bank account.

The good friends I have who want to hang out with me when I am feeling well (nobody wants to hang with me when I am feeling like shit…I don’t even want to hang with me)!

A part-time job that works flexibly with my needs and thanks me for my hard work.

A loving family.

Just to be clear this is not a gratitude journal we all know how I feel about those and if you don’t you can read about it here. This is simply an activity that you can do when you are feeling well enough to look outside of what is happening in your head. It helps lift your spirits, and you can go back and read it when you really have your back up against the wall or have someone read it to you.

What are you grateful for?

 

Why I won’t be starting a gratitude journal this Thanksgiving…or Christmas…or probably ever. Just saying!

I went to the doctors the other month…you don’t say! Yes well, the doctors and I are quite well acquainted. It’s like a bad relationship I just can’t break. I go along not really wanting to be there. The conversation is pretty average, and then I have to pick up the bill at the end.

But this particular trip to the doctors stood out to me in a way that was like watching someone pick their nose in public. It was just awkward. I went because I had been suffering pain in my chest. Now I know that this could very well be related to anxiety. So that is why I left it a few weeks. Tried some relaxation techniques, the usual jazz. But on a short walk with the dog one day it was so severe I thought – shit I should just get this checked out because I don’t want to actually die because I was too anxious that the doctor might think I was a hypochondriac.

We get a lot of locums where I live so I never see the same doctor twice. Not ideal when you have 20 minutes to explain a bit of back history. I try very hard just to stick to the symptoms and not go into any mental health backlog. It seems like if I do I am opening Pandora’s box and suddenly everything and anything is mental health related. I have been a mental health consumer since I was a child. I have been to an extensive amount of therapy and researched a lot about my condition. I actively manage it and in most parts am thriving even though I still have a so-called illness.

This is why it was so disheartening when the doctor read my notes briefly. Latched on to the fact I was on medication that is used for treating mental illness and decided to prescribe me ….a gratitude journal. Yes! That is right. I sat there while a doctor explained to me that maybe my symptoms would be eased by writing in a gratitude journal every night. ‘Holy shit!’ I thought checking myself ‘Did I forget to take my meds this morning and am I tripping? Is this the doctors or a spiritual centre?’ O.K. I don’t mean to be overly critical. I get it that doctors are working in a more holistic way these days. I don’t have anything against gratitude journals. They can be great. I have used them before. But seriously… do me a favour and just check my heart to make sure I am not suffering from some kind of rare heart condition and I will be out of your hair!

I had to bite my lip to stop tears from welling up. I felt like I was 10 years old again. That was the first time my Mum took me to see the family doctor because she was worried about my mental health. He asked me if I thought I was crazy…and my heart just fell out of my chest….that and I also thought ‘I hope not because I babysit your kids’. Now that I am older though I realise that crazy people have just as much right to babysit than non-crazy people and it would be discrimination to not hire someone based on their mental illness. So there!

Anyway back to the gratitude journal prescription. What I am trying to say is that even though people’s intentions are good. Never assume that a mental health sufferer isn’t aware of coping strategies, and hasn’t tried multiple ways of coping. I already have several great routines in place and I didn’t need to add another one to the mix. There is only so much time in the day and at some point, you have to do things like go to work.

How did this story end for me? Well, I politely listened to her advice. Went home waited two weeks and saw another locum who checked me over properly and gave me the all clear. Not one gratitude journal was needed.

So this Thanksgiving I am grateful for people who use their brains before engaging with a fellow sufferer by not assuming they have the cure for us.

Having a mental illness isn’t all shit sticks, dark holes, and misery! Honest!

Mental health blogs can sometimes tend to focus on the ‘dark stuff’. It is fair to say that we mental health sufferers do have to battle with a lot of challenging stuff. This week alone has already started off as a real bastard for me. But want I want to focus on in this post is the cool shit that has happened to me because of my mental health. Some of it has been delightfully heartwarming, and some downright hilarious….maybe not in the moment. But on reflection, I certainly have some great dinner party stories.

The people I have met:

I have met the most extraordinary people on this journey. The ones that stand out are fellow sufferers. They are resilient, brave, honest and real. I have also met some real characters especially during my two visits to the Inpatient Unit….we got up to some funny shit in there. Nothing quite like opening your door in the morning to a fellow ‘inmate’ accusing you of looking like your family was stuck in the twin towers. Or giggling like school kids because another fellow inmate confesses to you that he has been sneaking off to the hospital cafe, helping himself, running away, and blatantly lying to the nurses about it….I can’t blame him really the food on the wards was pretty shit!

The unexpected kind gestures I have been shown:

There was the time a bunch of flowers arrived for me at the hospital from my work, the time a friend made me a whole week of meals because she knew I wasn’t feeling well. Once I heard a large truck backing into the yard and a kitset vegetable garden was unloaded – a gift from a friend. Once I booked non-refundable flights while I was unwell and booked them in the wrong direction but didn’t notice until weeks later. The company kindly refunded my ticket when I explained why I had made the mistake. A card, a gift basket, a phone call, all kind gestures that have been shown to me on my journey at some point. They don’t happen all the time and there can be large gaps between any kind gesture, but they have happened.

The new skills I have developed:

I can’t work full-time and can only work part-time when things are going ok. This means I have a lot of time to kill! I have learned to bake – like properly bake. Pastry, meringue, brioche….you name it I have mastered it.  I even once made a croquembouche. You should Google that they are fucking awesome! I took up photography and became pretty ace. I did my post-grad. Took up cycling. Can now make pasta from scratch. I have extensively expanded my dinnertime repertoire. Tried my hand at gardening (I sucked at it). Had a crack at painting (also sucked). Sucking at stuff is not the point though. The point is if I was still working the 9-5 (who am I kidding I was a teacher I was working the 7 until whenever I fell asleep over my marking) I would never have had the time to explore these areas of interest.

The experiences I have had:

Once again because I don’t work full-time I have had the opportunity to go places with people when normally I would have had to have been at work. Now I know some of my readers might be thinking…’you are clearly a rich privileged person’. I want to make it clear I am not rich. But yes I am privileged. I know this because I have been in an Inpatient Unit. If you can read, write, have people in your life that love you, a roof over your head, and food in your cupboards then you are privileged. We have some money but not heaps. So if I want to go on an experience I cleverly think about how I can pay for it, or do it on the cheap. For example, this year I went on a road trip with my Mum for two weeks. She paid for it because I did jobs for her and the money was put aside for that trip. I have done two campervan relocations which we paid $1 a day. We went to Rarotonga recently because I had a friend over there we could stay with. I explore my own backyard much more and I get to spend time with my husband when he has rostered days off. Which I never was able to do in the past. We have even taken up dirt biking together.

Being hit by the mental illness shit stick. Sucks. Big time. I am not trying to minimise that in any way. But being able to see the silver lining in any situation even if it is only brief is how we can move through those really tough times.

What cool things have happened in your life because of your illness? Someone you have met, an experience you have had, maybe a new skill you have developed. I would love to know.

 

Does this ever get any fucking better?

Long story short, yes it does.

But long story long. Yes, it does, then it doesn’t, then it does, then it doesn’t. What I am trying to say is that it’s a journey. Just like all journeys, there are some really cool parts that you definitely don’t want to miss and other times you would just prefer if you could teleport through. If you are asking me right now if it gets any fucking better? Then my guess is you are in the real thick shitty part. You are waist deep in a mental health shit bog. It stinks, you are tired, and everyone else seems to be walking around the bog as if they don’t see you. Good news my friend it doesn’t get worse than this! So odds are it will definitely get better.

This doesn’t help you right now I know. But there are some things that can help you immediately. The thing is your brain is sending you batshit crazy messages that aren’t helpful, and are making things worse. You can’t see the light of day because everything is out of whack. Now I am assuming that you have been to see a doctor already, but if you haven’t then read this.

These tips are when you are having a…I am so FUCKING over this moment! Because as much as you don’t want to hear this you got to ride it out. If you are feeling catatonic (ie suicidal you gotta make that call to Lifeline 0800 543 354 or a friend immediately). Otherwise, I have a list of things that I can do when I am feeling a bit rat shit. They don’t help me feel entirely better. But they help me kill time. They are things I like to do, that doesn’t take much energy, and cost very little if any money. These activities distract my mind away from all those negative messages that are being sent my way. They help me focus on something else and 9/10 times help me through to the “ok I’m out of that shitty bog, I can still smell shit on my shoes but this is more doable”.

This is my list:

Baking, taking a long hot bath, watching mindless funny crap on T.V. – like the Big Bang Theory, reading a book, writing, walking the dog – if I can make it outside, looking at Pinterest.

It’s not a long list, there isn’t anything spectacular about it. But that is the perfectness of it. It is easy to do. You don’t want to have anything complicated to organise when you are feeling like arse. Things that you will notice are absent from this list are: drinking alcohol, smoking weed, taking drugs, gambling and having sex with random people. I don’t really need to explain why these don’t make the cut, do I? You are mentally ill, not stupid. But just in case someone is reading this who hasn’t come across a pamphlet somewhere on their Wellness 101 journey. None of those things are good for you and will wreak havoc on your life. Although, they may feel good in the moment the aftermath is going to be way worse than that shit bog you were in….and now I am just going to step down from my pedestal. I don’t like to spend too much time up there it makes me feel a little light headed. It’s also very lonely and cold.

So to wrap up this short, long story. Yes, it will get better. But you have to find some strategies or activities to help you through those really tough times.

What things do you like to do when you are feeling well that doesn’t take much energy or money? Write a list, and reach for it next time you are feeling like you are wading through the stench of lost souls.

NOTE:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757