Thursday, 1 February 2018

Time to Talk Day

This wasn't what I was planning on writing about today.  Actually I wasn't planning on writing a blog post at all today.   But here it is anyway!  On reading this post by Julie Kirk I found out that today is Time to Talk day.

Time to talk about what?

Mental Health

In January there are always television programmes, newspaper and magazine articles and new DVDs on sale to encourage us to diet or to get fit.  But mental health is every bit as important as physical health.

I've had mental health issues over the years.  Only of course they weren't called mental health issues back then.

My first dealings with depression came in my 20s.  Real depression - not just feeling down.   I was married (unhappily) and had a 24 mile commute each way to work.   There were so many times when as I drove home I wondered about driving straight on at a particularly nasty right hand bend.  I never did.  I went to the doctor instead.  And he was amazing.  I saw him every week and we talked.  This was my GP not a trained mental health worker and he saw me through it.  Firstly with valium and talking, and then with vitamins and talking.  And I survived.  And I got divorced.

Everything went well for a couple of years and then I got a job where I was bullied.  Only of course it wasn't called bullying back then.  Because it wasn't recognised that adults in authority bullied those in positions below them.  Apparently only children were bullies back then!   One evening I got together all my medications and a bottle of Bacardi and contemplated them.  Then I stood up, poured the Bacardi down the sink, threw the pills in the bin and went to see a friend.  I didn't tell them about what I had planned but we did talk. Talking is so good for you.

The next episode of depression came when I was pregnant.  Everything was going so well.  I was (and am) married to a wonderful, faithful and supportive man, had a good job and was pregnant against the odds the Doctor quoted to me.  I was 36, which in 1983 made me a geriatric primigravida.  So lovely to be called geriatric!  The relaxation classes made me anxious and I would walk out worse than I went in.  The dog died unexpectedly.   The vet thought it was from eating rat poison.

And I thought it was my fault.

How could I look after a baby if I couldn't even look after a dog?   After Andy was born I was referred to a clinical psychologist as it was obvious I didn't have postnatal depression.  I was clinically depressed and was given 2 years of psychotherapy.  These days prenatal depression is a recognised condition.

Since then I have been able to mostly keep the depression in check.  I know when it's creeping up on me and I know what to do so that it doesn't stick around.  I wrote about that in this post about choosing Participate as my 'one word' in 2014.

What I have learned is that bottling up what you feel does you no good.  Find a trusted friend who you can talk to and who will listen without judgement.  Who will talk to you about everything and nothing.

If you have dealt with depression find some good in it.  Your experience can help someone else.  Become a listening friend.  Recognise what someone is going through.  Find a way to see behind the mask.

You see for years everyone thought I had my life together.  I like to be in control!  I have a wonderful husband, fantastic son and daughter-in-law and two handsome grandsons.  I have lovely friends.  A nice house.  Enough money to be able to travel.  You can look at me and see the good life I have.  And it is good.

But sometimes.  Just sometimes.  The facade cracks and the darkness tries to creep in.


For more stories and information:
visit the Time to Change website
follow the #timetotalk hashtag on @timetochange on Twitter
or their @timetochangecampaign on Instagram

Well done if you've stuck with this post today.
Thanks for joining me today.
Bernice


20 comments:

  1. How interesting that this all flowed out on the spur of the moment. Very apt for 'Time to Talk' day, it clearly was the right time for you.

    Thank you for standing alongside me and adding another voice to the chorus.

    It *is* hard to talk about - even when you're ready to share (as you and I both clearly have been) but ultimately I think it's worth it.

    I'm sure your words will resonate with others.

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  2. I didn't know it was 'time to talk' day either! (actually I didn't know that was even a 'day)
    My own story is similar to yours - bouts of severe clinical depression which began in my early 20's and hit hard several times. I eventually had neurosurgery called 'bilateral anterior cingulotomy' - I actually had it twice roughly a year apart. Whilst there was a very small improvement it wasn't enough to be considered successful. I eventually went to a conference with a VERY supportive friend (a long story as to how I even had the courage, ability or strength to go), however the end of the story is that I was miraculously healed(on my birthday)! I say I was living in a monochrome world and that it's now like living in 'glorious technicolour'. It confused most of the psychiatrists and the team which were involved with my surgery no end, but they were able to agree that something had definitely 'happened' (it's even in my medical notes). I've spoken about depression MANY years ago (I think maybe 15) at conferences like Spring Harvest, definitely at a time when no-one talked about these things. This year will mark my 10year anniversary of being depression free.
    God's timing of course was impeccable, we started our current ministry when my husband visited Ghana in 2008 (the year of my healing) and this is definitely something we both had to be completely committed too. No idea why I had to go through those black years, but I do know that God was somehow there, hanging on to me and protecting me.
    Thank you for sharing your story

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  3. Bernice, thank you for being so honest and transparent. You inspire me, friend. :)

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  4. Just popped over from Julie's blog. You have written a really interesting article here, must have taken some courage! I am glad to hear that you are able to mostly keep the depression in check these days. Keep talking!

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  5. Thank you Bernice for sharing your experience. This subject has been taboo for far too long, your courage through talking can only help.

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  6. Thank you Bernice. Been there, done that! Not long term and for a different reason but horrid while it lasted. I too found that talking was the best thing for me. I talked to anyone whom I trusted and who would listen and it was very helpful.

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  7. Well said, Bernice! Thank you for your transparency. I have had bouts with depression in years past, to the point of contemplating suicide on at least 2 occasions...once while driving and the other with pills. After that dark cloud lifted, I was so glad that I did not follow through. Weeping may endurevfor a night but joy does eventually come. Counseling and antidepressants wereba tremendous help. Not to mention my supportive, praying friends. Currently I am battling this oppress again. I made myself go out yesterday and walk for 10 minutes. I find that fresh air and daylight help tremendously. Thank you again for sharing your heart and wisdom. I plan on sharing this article with my friends who are currently battling depression. God bless you.

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  8. THANK YOU! Speaking about mental health will help others speak and eventually it will gain respect as a health issue instead of one that is kept locked up in silence. Recognition of a treatable illness must be done to help the mass of people that suffer through no fault of their own. You have done a fantastic thing by showing that wonderful and creative people can suffer from this insidious disease and still come out to live a meaningful life that helps others. I commend your bravery and love your blog and now appreciate your blog even more. Medicines can certainly help and should be an accepted and appreciated form of enhancing health. My granddaughter needs to take medicine to provide for things in her that her body doesn't produce enough. Her boyfriend thinks she needs to get off of medicine and tough it out through faith in God. I believe in God and rely completely on him but know that our bodies are imperfect and need medical help, also. I'm grateful for the brains and will that people show to study and be inspired to understand medicine and it's value. That is why when anyone is brave enough to talk about this subject - I'm so very happy for all the others that read and relate. THAMK YOU!

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  9. Hello and thank you.
    I understand.

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  10. Another heart felt post Bernice. Well done on standing up and sharing your story. Sadly, poor Mental health causes devastation and disruption to the person concerned. It’s good that you got the right help and that you have developed coping strategies.

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