World Mental Health Day
Mental Health – ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’.
Today is World Mental Health Day. I started off this day the same way I start off every other day. I woke up and I spent the first few minutes of the day reassuring myself that I don’t have cancer anymore.
Every morning I wake up and my first thought is about cancer. I wonder why I feel tired when I wake up. Tiredness was the main symptom before being diagnosed with bowel cancer so now I associate tiredness with cancer. This morning I felt tired and achey. I tell myself that I exercised yesterday that’s why I feel tired. I also woke up in the middle of the night which always disrupts my sleep pattern.
This is how I not only spend my mornings but also a good few times throughout the day.
I’ve gotten used to doing this now ever since suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when my treatment finished in 2011. When I was having treatment I always felt like I was actively fighting cancer. When that treatment was finished I felt lost and suddenly the thought of getting cancer again was all down to me. The safety ropes had been lifted.
I thought about cancer every moment of every day. I had insomnia, I developed eczema on my face and upper body and the moments I did get some sleep were usually disrupted by night sweats where I would wake up soaking wet. I couldn’t concentrate and I was highly emotional. I was like a glass which was full to the brim, one little drop seemed to send me over the edge where I felt like couldn’t cope with the situation. I worried about everything from where I parked my car to the fact the dishes needed doing. I lost my self confidence and didn’t want to leave the house.
For what seemed like an eternity I felt scared and the fear of cancer consumed me. I thought I was losing my mind but it turns out that this was a common emotional reaction amongst those who had experienced cancer or any type of traumatic experience. A fact I now know but didn’t know when I was going through it.
The fear of cancer returning and the belief that my future would be riddled with pain and suffering was worse than both my cancers put together. This fear took away my smile, my optimism, my love of life and my relationship.
With hard work and determination I can now control that fear. The fear now only lasts for a few minutes at a time while I control my thoughts and convince myself to the fact that in this moment I am fine. The future hasn’t happened yet and the past has been and gone.
It is believed that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems in their lifetime. That means that it is more than likely that someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder. It may be anxiety, depression or this year’s World Mental Health day awareness disorder of schizophrenia.
In today’s modern world we are bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ people via magazines, ‘perfect lives’ via social media, crazy working hours, relationship and abuse issues, drink and drugs, financial and illness stresses and scary and sad stories in the news. For some people this is too much to handle and it is so easy for it get on top of us and slowly consume our thoughts. Others like schizophrenia can be caused by changes in brain chemicals.
The only advice I can offer from a personal viewpoint is don’t be frightened to talk about it. I promise you that you are not alone. There are lots of people you can speak to and there are lots of therapies out there that can be very helpful from cognitive behavioural therapy to neural linguistic programming and counselling.
My best therapy was having things to look forward to doing in the future. My experience with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the reason I decided to share my story. When I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD I wondered how many more people are out there going through this but not knowing that it is a perfectly normal reaction to have after a traumatic experience.
The main thing to remember is that there is hope and lots of lots of help to get you through this. X
For further advice on Mental Health problems, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety please see links below:-
MENTAL HEALTH A-Z – http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/a-z-mental-health/
POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER – http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/
WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY – http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/world-mental-health-day/world-mental-health-day-2014/