Monday, October 10, 2011

World Mental Health Day

Today is world mental health day. As someone who has been officially diagnosed as suffering from depression and stress at various times in my life, and has self diagnosed as having OCD, I thought I would contribute to this day by listing the symptoms I experienced and talking about the diagnosis methods doctors used on me.

Symptoms first:
Tight feeling in my stomach
Often feeling fearful (i.e. at least once a day)
Often crying (again, at least once a day)
Feeling numb, emotionally but also feeling angry and hateful
Self harm
Sleeping for long periods
Difficulty concentrating
Feeling of un-connectedness from other people, my emotions, my body and my thought processes
Paranoia – feeling that the people you are talking to are not who they say are
Little to no concept of time – feeling like what is happening now will last forever and being unable to recall feelings or events from previous days when I felt different (worse or better)
Poor memory
A need to repeat things, either in my head (thoughts or statements) or in physicality (locking doors, counting, checking things)
Smoking (half the time when I smoke it’s because I want to hurt himself, I know it’s bad for me, that’s the point)
Low self esteem
Self hate
Not caring about self
Difficulty moving
Over eating or sometimes under eating (mostly over eating though)
And more, many more symptoms, but I now can’t be arsed to go into them.

As for how I was diagnosed, well the psychiatrist I got took to when I was 15 asked me about some of the above but phrased it in such a way that he asked if my sleep patterns or eating patterns had changed. This was not a helpful way to ask as I could not remember feeling any different. I was not in tune with my body, I was depressed. How was I meant to answer these questions? He then asked me if I ever had moments of lightness, if I ever felt better when feeling low. I could only recall a phone call I’d had a few days ago (see, I told you I had problems with concepts of time) from a friend where for the couple of minutes it took to have the conversation I felt not quite as shit as I did just before. But as soon as the phone call ended I felt shit again. Anyway I answered yes to his question, although in hindsight my reasoning was probably not what he meant. Because of this answer, he decided that my depression wasn’t chemical in nature, so I didn’t need to be prescribed pills.

I was referred to a psychotherapist and saw her for 3 years, I think. It could have been one year, I don’t know. I have difficulties with time. Seeing the therapist wasn’t the most useful thing I have ever done, but I couldn’t say I was unhappy with her as I had low self worth and didn’t value myself.

When I was 20 I went to the University doctor who asked me very similar questions, to which I had the same problems answering, and she diagnosed me with stress. I was referred to the University counselling service, who were by and large, shit.
That’s my experience of the mental ill health profession. It is not overwhelmingly positive, but I am glad to say that I am now much much better. I haven’t self harmed in years and I think I now get more anxious than depressed. Woo, go me.

1 in 4 people will suffer with a mental health problem in their lifetime. Don’t be dismissive, or critical, or think because you are worried about them you have it hard. Be supportive. Ask them how you can help. Be a friend.

Ok, it's kinda scary to post this as I know that real life friends get the link to this.. so please, if you're gonna comment, play nicely.

1 comment:

Feminist Avatar said...

You might already know this, but anxiety is a recognised form of depression. If you feel that it is causing problems and you can't cope, then some people find certain anti-depressants or other meds helpful. It is also worth trying to address if you are still at the stage where lifestyle changes might help, as it can get worse and become debilitating.

Says the daughter of a woman who has suffered this for a long time!