How do you feel about the future? Is your life limited in any sense?
To be honest, I am somewhat afraid of a future with my mental illness. 4 years ago, I would’ve thought I would forever be going on as I did by taking just that one antidepressant and it would be no big deal. Fast forward to now… So many new symptoms developed and with the relapses I got much worse every time. I went from ‘just depression’ to severe depression and anxiety, an eating disorder, borderline personality disorder and more suicide attempts to the point of taking a cocktail of meds. It’s scary to see that you’ve just gotten worse over the years and you need to take more and more precautions to stay healthy, and so, you wonder… How will I be ten years from now? Will I kill myself eventually in one moment of utter, reckless hopelessness? If I somehow manage to get ahead and stay as I am now on the same meds (which I believe I will,) will I ever be accepted and willing to have a romantic relationship? Have children? Because I wonder, what if I decide to have children and they inherit my genes giving them a predisposition to depression. There are many scary possibilities that could happen when you live in such a vulnerable state. So I wouldn’t know what the future looks like. But one also has to be realistic and look at the context of your illness. I got worse for reasons being medication discontinuation, severe prolonged stress with med school and my mom’s death, my anxiety getting out of control making me starve myself and live immensely underweight for 2 years and all these events would’ve obviously had a negative effect on anyone’s mental health if they already had depression in the first place and resulted in further deterioration. Right now, life is not the same. I have learned incredibly much in the management and ability to survive through trial and error and all that happened. I no longer have such incredible anxiety which means I cope with stress much better. I am also on the right combo of medication which has made the world’s difference and it took time for that. I am done with studying Medicine in 8 months and even though it is the toughest part of it, all uphill right now, I’ve come so far that it’s almost certain I will complete it and have a clear career direction fall in place. I have dealt with much trauma that happened over the past 15 years and emotionally and mentally in therapy and I am no longer so profoundly affected by it. Lastly, I also take way better care of my physical health. So basically, I don’t have the same risk factors I had. The future will without doubt have its downs, I am sure. I’m not always going to be one amazing, budding and blooming rose garden. I live with depression which is chronic and which may have its hills and valleys. I know there will be times the monster shows its head, but I have learned more how to control that monster which means my future isn’t dependent on it at all. I have been told by my Doctor of patients who were just as sick as I was, who eventually after 5 years of weaning off meds got off them and was still doing great. So the point is, it’s not a death sentence. I will always be more vulnerable but I am still very much capable. So no, my life isn’t limited in any sense.
Have you met anyone with mental illness? Did it help?
Yes, many! During my admissions to hospital over the years I’ve met quite a few. Since you’re placed in a room with other people it’s kind of hard to not start talking to each other. The thing that I’ve realised about them all is their own unique strength. They each had such a story of how they got to where they were and where they wanted to go in life and even though they were all just as sick, they still held onto hope and of course that inspired me. I am still in contact with a few of them and none of their lives suddenly got easy. Some had relapses again and some struggled so much with medication. Some are mothers and some were just starting out in life. What I love is how we stay in contact and still check in on each other from time to time and never stop caring. Others I have met online and I am just as inspired by them and how they kept going in their battle. I remember one specific woman about my age from Hungary who had started reading my previous blog and emailed me. I think our emails to and fro were an outlet and source of support for both of us and we got to know each other more and became friends. There are also a few others I have met through blogging who shared their stories or just started showing me so much support and still do. Also, reading blogs of other people who also deal with mental illness and seeing how they’ve progressed and following their posts of self-expression, motivation or how they cope has also been of great comfort. I think what makes us sufferers feel so close is that understanding of an unfathomable pain we share and the ability to be completely open when we talk, knowing we won’t be judged and we can let our guard down. I have felt much less alone since I got to know so many such people.
The heart project to promote mental illness awareness commenced today. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s all at the end of yesterday’s post. So, I joined in and drew my hearts today.
And then my dog joined in too…