It has been around a year since I first sought help for my mental illness. At the time many of the people around me were reluctant to believe there was anything wrong with me; many thought I was simply seeking attention, After a while, if enough people believe that you are attention seeking or being dramatic, eventually, you begin to believe them too. There were pockets of support but overall the decision to seek help was one I made on my own. It wasn’t an easy decision and even after I had made the moves to start getting help I fought hard with myself, was I really ill? Was I just looking for attention? I still fight with myself, I still wonder but everything makes so much more sense if I give in to the truth and accept that I have an illness.
Things have changed so drastically in the past year. The people around me have changed too, but I think they have changed their views because I have altered the way I deal with the symptoms of my illness; I am more open, I vocalise my feelings and though often it brings me a surge of guilt and paranoia – what are they thinking? Am I attention seeking? – it also seems to help the people around me deal with symptoms that can often come from nowhere and be hard for them to understand. When I talk about the symptoms of my illness or my feelings and how they are affecting me I speak with more confidence than I would have before, I feel sure in what I am saying and I have the knowledge of my illness to back these things up, people notice that, people feel that you know what you’re talking about and they’re happy to accept that.
When I first went to seek help for my illness I went with the belief that I had a chronic form of depression, which I had been treated for previously – I was afraid that I might get put back on medication, it was the last thing I wanted as my previously humongous dose of antidepressants had left me feeling unable to function and dead inside… eventually, through therapy, we discovered that at the time I was taking antidepressants I was in the midst of a psychotic break and so regardless of the dose of medication I would have felt dead inside and unable to function. Ironically, now I have been pushing for my psychiatrist to give me a mood stabiliser as I feel that though therapy has taught me how to manage my moods and symptoms it is not a maintainable way to live – eventually, without mood stabilisers I would relapse. So today I was prescribed Lamotrigine to take alongside my Venlafaxine; I’m nervous about starting a new medication, especially one that will likely have such a large impact but I know that it could well be the start of great change for me.
My perceptions about a lot of things have also changed drastically throughout this past year. The way I feel about my life and the people who are/have been in it is very different now, I hold no bitterness or anger – I have come to terms with my past, I have let go of my baggage and it feels like freedom. I feel better about myself as a person, I am a good person, as good as anyone else; I feel deserving of love and friendship and comfort… I have never felt so good about myself. My relationships with people are also changing, particularly those with men; I am not seeking unhealthy relationships with men anymore and this large amount of time as a single woman and the therapy I had served to heal things in me that I did not even know where wounded – perhaps meaning that should I become involved in a relationship in the future it will be one forged on real feelings rather than my need to feel wanted.
The stress of this week and the multitude of new things to cope with is weighing heavily upon me but I will survive; just look how far I’ve come already.