Saturday, 13 May 2017

My take on “Mental Health Awareness week”


I’ve had a lot of that recently.

Last month was an anniversary I thought would never happen to me.

One year and counting I have been taking medication.

For someone who never even liked taking painkillers the idea that I would accept medication was just not something I thought would happen to me.

I don’t like it and I want to come off it, but I have this niggling feeling of the consequences if stop it. I keep saying to myself “let’s get the next few weeks away and then visit the GP and talk about coming off the medication.”

But of course there is no respite or end to stress for me and that of my members and friends and family.

We are all literally digesting the brutality of austerity and its impact on all of us is devastating.  

My plan is to see the GP after 8 June after Jeremy is elected Prime Minister, BUT, what if that doesn’t happen?

I try not to think about that.

I want an end to the pain and suffering that just seems to keep coming. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning. In the “coal face” austerity is literally killing people. The stress levels of those coming for support to our union office is off the scale. I try like all of you to be positive, offer support and solidarity. But the sheer volume is at times overwhelming.

It is at these times, ‘He returns’.

Always hanging in the background waiting for moments of weakness, whether it be tiredness or stress.

‘He’ is quick to wrap his arms around me and start pushing down on my shoulders, increasing the tension in my neck which travels quickly to the back of my eyes.

‘He’ senses an opportunity to drop in negative thoughts, at first they are like short subliminal messages, but each one increases in duration until I find myself stuck in a loop of negativity.

Who is ‘He?’

‘He’ is depression.

My instinct is always to fight, as many others do when facing depression. My past coping strategy has been to work until I drop with tiredness which brings me sleep and some respite.

But I know this coping strategy does not work and is destructive to me and to those around me.

Talking to others and listening to others has been a release.

One of my concerns about divulging my mental health issues was that it would make others wary of me, or that others would somehow think I am not able to cope or be able to support others.

I don’t think that is right.

So many people are talking to me about their experiences it has opened up another world for me.

For me if you are struggling find a support group or contact Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), they have so much knowledge and solidarity, I can find words that express my admiration for them. They take our pain straight into the back yard of the politicians and national media. For that I owe them a debt of gratitude.

That is why I am glad we have events like Mental Health Awareness week.

It isn’t a fix to the stigma and discrimination that people have to deal with, but it is an opportunity for us all to talk to others and that is not a bad thing in my book.

Solidarity to you all out there and good mental health. 


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