Alone

Today I want to make a shout out to anyone and everyone who is battling mental illness alone.

Kudos to you! You are amazing! You are so much stronger than you realise! I don’t know how you do it but keep it up; you are an inspiration to me!

I don’t believe that I would still be here if I had gone through this alone. So many times in so many ways I have relied on all of the amazing people around me.

My husband of course being number one. He has been dealing with me for eleven years! Ten of those years I was undiagnosed with mental illness, and I’m not sure how much of my illness I had over that time but he has dealt with all of me and stuck by me and been my best friend, my biggest supporter, the most amazing listener, and just through and through amazing. I shudder to think of some of the things I put him through: hysterics, tantrums, intense nagging, doom and gloom, worry about everything and everyone, panic attacks, tears over anything and everything, and some pretty crazy manic episodes!!

My friends have probably been subject to some not so nice days with me too. Sorry about that! But their support has always helped me in every scenario and I wouldn’t be without any of them!

My team. My GP who is available all day any time Monday to Friday at short notice and without an appointment. My sweet psychologist who will fit me in any time Monday to Saturday and who calls every now and then just to see how I’m going. My relatively new psychiatrist who has given me his mobile number to call any time! That’s pretty amazing! The local CATT team who are only a phone call away. The workplace counselling number that I can call 24 hours a day. Lifeline, Helpline, Suicide Callback line and all the other fantastic services that can be called from anywhere anytime and are truly fabulous!

My colleagues. I don’t see them much but when I do they are so friendly and concerned and encouraging that it really touches my heart and I want to get better so that I can get back to work and pay them back for all their kindness.

Family too, everyone in their own way doing what they can to help me keep going.

I’m so glad for each and every person who has helped me keep on going and made me keep trying and made me want to keep living and fighting!

I might not have thanked you face to face, I might not have let you know how awesome you are but I know it and one day I hope I can show you how important you are!

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Friends

“At the end of the day

Some you win, some you don’t

So I’m glad that I’m here
With some friends that I know
Always there with a smile
Saying you’re not alone
Singing la la la la
Que sera”

-Justice Crew

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1E30IQIPk8

One of the most important things to me over the last few months has been good friends.

Friends who understand what I’m going through from their own experience with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

Friends who understand what I’m going through from their experience with family members or close friends who they have supported in the past.

Friends who have worked with patients suffering from mental illness.

Friends who don’t understand the experience, but listen and learn and are there for me.

Friends who help in whatever way I need help.

Friends who call, message, email, who send thoughts and gifts,who love and visit.

Friends who are kind, compassionate and supportive.

Friends who let me know that I’m not alone, that there’s always someone I can turn to, and someone that I can talk to.

Friends that have always been there, friends that have become close friends, friends who had drifted away but made the effort to reconnect, new friends that I didn’t know I had.

You may be near, you may be far, but you have touched my heart.

I may not have taken up the opportunity of calling you for a chat, of visiting you for cuddles, of staying with you for a while, of catching up for coffee and chatting with you over text, messenger or phone.

But don’t ever think that your offer was wasted; it means the world to me, and keeps me going through difficult days. And it’s still with me in my heart and mind; I may still call on you some day.

sealions, Galapagos Islands, beach,

Beautiful sealion friends hanging out together on a beach in the Galapagos Islands

The meaning of ‘que sera’ is what will be, will be. It’s good to know that I’m not alone, whatever happens; it gives me courage and strength to know you are out there, giving me your support.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

– A A Milne

A fabulous quote!

The words ‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think’ were given to me by a few people early on in my illness, and I’ve appreciated them ever since.

It’s always good for me to think about these words. It’s easy to forget our capabilities when we’re confronted with our weaknesses but good friends help us to remember.

Even when they’re not nearby they can help us, just with their few kind words.

I’m the most fortunate girl in the world in that I met my husband when I was young and he became my best friend years before we were ever married.

Having such a great friend with me all through the journey has been such a comfort and help to me. Everybody should know how it feels to have such a great friend.

I sometimes feel guilty that by putting my battles into the public sphere I have gotten such a huge amount of support that other people silently battling on alone have not had. I didn’t publish my issues for that reason, but it has been a beautiful side effect.

So please, for my sake, remember the others, all those quietly struggling and pushing through their hard days without the support of so many wonderful people.

I have come to realise from so many people contacting me to express their empathy that there are so many people fighting this all too common battle in one way or another.

9 times out of 10 it is the person you least expect, the bubbly, bright, always laughing, always smiling, friendly, outgoing, sociable person who is most affected. I don’t know why it is this way, or what came first, the personality or the mental illness. But it may not be who you expect.

So be courageous: ask your friends “are you okay?” and listen to their actions, their body language and their words. You may not know what to do, but the sheer action of asking, and then listening is mostly what will mean the world to someone, and help them in their time of need.

I read a powerful quote in a meme somewhere on Facebook that I have found to be so true:

“Smile, it’s easier than explaining what’s wrong”

-iliketoquote.com

I still find this to be true with some people, and similarly it’s so much easier to answer “fine” when asked a cursory “how’re you going?”. This customary greeting is often not really the place for deep and meaningful answers, so we need to find another time and place to give people a chance to properly answer.

Taking the time to give the full answer is emotionally and time consuming, and not everyone wants the full answer. Nor do they have to, so being selective can save time, hurt and emotional energy.

But I’m glad for good friends who have the time, and have the interest to really ask and really listen. Not every day, or every occasion but from time to time it’s nice to feel listened-to and valued.

bright colours, macaws, south america, peru, amazon

Good friends standing side by side – Macaws, Amazon rainforest, Peru, South America

Silent support should never be underestimated, either. Sometimes words just aren’t enough and just having someone near, or knowing they have your back is a very powerful help. Even from far away, just knowing people are thinking of you and rooting for you is a great encouragement.

You don’t know how amazing you are. You don’t know how important you already are, and how vital you could be to someone. You might never know it, but you will be a great help just by doing what you do, caring like you do and being there for others.

Go you!!

And most of all, THANK YOU!!!