It’s been just over 3 months since my last blog post, and I must admit – it actually feels like many more. I’m going to take this as a good sign that I have missed my studies, and my blogging. I’m also going to be completely honest about my absence, because I believe that openness is the only thing that will start breaking down barriers & social stigmas.
I hit a major slump after my really great start to the year. I started getting anxiety attacks several times a day, no matter what activity I was busy with. I lost focus with my studies, and even my leisure activities. I was battling to get restful sleep, even on the nights that I wasn’t plagued by multiple nightmares. I was very irritable (sorry Elf). In fact, just writing this blog post is causing anxiety to build in my chest. The main cause is PTSD from an incident that happened almost 6 years ago, but which my brain only now felt able to face. Thanks for blindsiding me with that, brain…
So I took a step back and asked for the help I needed. It’s a slow process, unfortunately, but at least there is the free availability of help. I met with my GP, and then the Mental Health Nurse on their staff. I was advised to contact my local Mental Health services. This process was surprisingly easy, and after an initial telephonic assessment, I was recommended for Talking Therapy. I also let Student Support know why my studies had slowed so drastically, and they have been really understanding.
My Talking Therapy hasn’t started yet, because we also took time to go to South Africa and meet the newest addition to our family. A gorgeous, healthy, cheerful little boy who has completely stolen all our hearts. Elf also put her foot down and insisted I do no studying on our trip – I wasn’t even allowed to read my tech magazines! I admit I cheated a few times, but the break really did do me a lot of good.
If you are having a similar experience – please talk to the people who love you. And talk to the people who can help – whether that be a GP, church leader, community leader, or anyone else that you trust. If someone you love is experiencing this – be there for them. Listen, and encourage them to seek proper help. It might take a long time before they’re able to take that step, but don’t ever give up. If you’re in the UK I would also highly recommend a Mental Health First Aid course. You will learn how to recognise someone who might need a friend, and how to be there for them.
So far the biggest lesson I have learned through all this, is that people are a lot more understanding, and willing to help, than I ever expected. For this I am incredibly grateful – thank you.