The two biggest lies I've always told myself:
1. I always handle it, no matter how much I take on ('cos I am Superwoman like that, right?)
2. It must be tough to be one of those people who needs medication to cope. I'm so glad I'm not like that
Until the day I sat in my doctor's office, a few weeks back, and in response to his question of why I was so against taking something 'non natural' to help me return to myself, I actually told him, "This may sound really ridiculous, but I am just not that person. The type that takes medication to cope".
As I said it, I realised that I did, indeed, sound ridiculous. He apparently thought so too, from the amused (and slightly pitying) expression on his face. What does that even mean, 'I am not that person...'? What sort of judgement am I placing on the character and resilience of 'those' people? At that moment in time, I had no right to draw comparisons and hold myself, inadvertently, to a higher level. Because the truth is, I am exactly the type of person that is conditioned to push themselves so hard, take on so much (invited or self-inflicted) and worry so incessantly about everything and anything, that one day they break their brain.
And that's exactly what happened to me.
So after seven months of visits to the psychologist, blood tests, GP appointments, homeopathic treatments, I have decided to write about my experience. I am fortunate to be on the way out of the black hole. If not, I would not be writing today, on account of having lost the ability to string a simple thought together for a while there. What this experience has made very apparent to me is that mental health problems are confusing, difficult to recognise in oneself, and often not very apparent to anyone around you either. They can be caused by something physical or they could just be 'all in the head'. I don't know which is worse to accept. They are seldom 'textbook' and can vary in range and severity. Whatever the manifestation, they are utterly valid to the person experiencing them, whether we perpetuate the stigma of embarrassment or denial or judgement ourselves, or if anyone around us does, by diminishing our experience in any way.
For sure, the self-imposed judgement is the worst of it. Thinking back to seven months ago, I was not the type of person that went to a psychologist or had an anxiety disorder or got depressed. Until I was.
Perhaps some of what I have experienced will ring true. And if my experience can make this all feel a little less scary, confusing or embarrassing to anyone else, that will be great. If it doesn't, well it's a bit of therapy for me. For free. My medical aid will be very grateful.
Now let's go back to the beginning of it all...