I know this is a knitting, craft, fibre, lifestyle, spinning blog…but I wanted to give you all an update on the mental health situation because I think it’s so important to be open about it. If you’re not interested, I suggest you come back tomorrow…I’m going to finally be showing off Naloa!
I’ve teetered on the edge of publishing this for a few months, because my general policy is not to dilute Plutonium Muffins with my medical stuff. Another blogger that I follow has just spoken out about it, and it has inspired me to update my draft and publish it. Please find out more information via the NHS or the Mind website, or feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss this in more depth.
Mental Health Update
As many of you know, I have been off full-time work for a long time as a result of some tough mental health problems. I was signed off in August of last year – more information here. I have been receiving treatment for depression since I finished my degree four years ago – this has ranged from talking therapies to cognitive behavioural therapy, with a variety of medications and other treatments tried.
I changed my medication when I was full of anxiety last year, and it took several months for that to reach a level in my system that it was actually effective. In the last few weeks I have slowly come off one of the meds that I have been on, as my anxiety has been much better. I no longer have panic attacks when I consider leaving the house. I can’t remember the last time I had one in general (touch wood). I’ve been able to get out and about easily. I’m sleeping less in the day, although still getting very tired and emotional if I don’t get enough sleep.
I decided to incorporate Plutonium Muffins and become self employed so that I could start to get back into work without having to work to an employers understanding of how my own mental health circumstances affect my performance, my self esteem, my colleagues or a company. I know there are a lot of employers out there who have great mental health policies. For me, I felt that self employment was right for the way I am operating at the moment.
You’ll notice that I sometimes post blogs at ridiculous times. If I have had a ‘mental health day’, where I have been lethargic, demotivated, unenthusiastic about everything, been in bed all day, unable to concentrate on anything, I will fairly regularly make up for it at anti-social hours. I wake up at about 5 am everyday, and no amount of lying in bed will make me fall back to sleep on some days. On these days, I get up and start working.
Equally, sometimes I may go to bed and not be able to sleep well, in which case I can get up and work until the wee hours, go back to bed and sleep in the next morning if I manage to. Self employment – particularly being staff on an online copy-writing agency – is helping.
It feels ridiculous saying all of that, I should just be able to power through it, right? I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the type of brain fog where trying to do anything about it at all is just a no go. I’ve been in the middle of conversations with John, and suddenly had the fog descend and just be unable to take in another word. One of my therapists used to click her fingers at me when she could see I was zoning out – after one or two attempts to work through it with me, I was no longer allowed to see her as I’d used up my NHS hours on that service and we never went any further with it.
I can try sort out my hours to fit around the mental health, and as I get better and better, I can start to conform to a normal schedule again. If I can’t concentrate, I don’t try to force it – I have learned how to take steps to rectify it if I feel myself sliding into a state. (I didn’t have a nap yesterday. Sounds like a small thing, but it’s a huge deal to me – first time in months, and I got up at 5 am.)
I no longer see a therapist, and my running has been helping me a lot. To my annoyance, a few times when I have been feeling really awful, yet unable to lie down and nap through it, I have gone for a run instead. The rush that I get from going outside for half an hour – and obviously the endorphins through the exercise – helps me to get back to a workable state of mind, which is so helpful. I’m annoyed about this because my mum and GP have been telling me for years that I needed to get into exercise, and I failed at all attempts until this year when I started training for a half marathon. I hate being proved wrong!
The thing that has motivated me to continue training for the half marathon is that I have got fitter, and I’m raising money for Mind, the mental health charity in the UK. You can find out more about that here.
I don’t think that things are absolutely peachy just yet, but I am appreciating being able to operate at a higher level, and make plans for the future again. I have had a few ‘ups and downs’ in the last four years which has seen me taking a lot of time off work (as in a couple of years over that period) as my mental health fluctuates. I’m hoping that at the moment, the things that I am doing will help me continue to go ever onward and upward, and we won’t have another huge downward spiral.
So, that’s that. I’m going to do some knitting and possibly copywriting – not necessarily in that order – and have another cuppa!