Mental illness isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Neither is recovery.

Blogging is real hard right now. If I was blogging about football or politics, food or books, it would be easy. If I was blogging about mental health from the perspective of a professional it would be easier – but I’m not. I am blogging about my mental health and my experiences. It’s not just about mental health, it’s about me. It’s real, and it is personal and not only that, but it’s a topic that is heavily stigmatised and can change people’s opinions about you. There is the constant worry of what people will think.

It makes me want to blog all about the good times and the positive things I learn so as to help other people. It’s a very idyllic idea of what I want my blog to be about.

Do I want to write about the hard times? The raw, reality. There’s the fear of people I know reading this, and the fear of becoming negative. The reality is, if I only blog about the good times, I’m not giving you the truth. Living with a mental illlness, recovery from a mental illness, is not all rainbows and butterflies. Some days are really awful, some weeks, months are. A big part of ‘recovery’ is actually accepting this.

I spent 10 hours in A&E yesterday. It wasn’t fun, understatement. It was utter madness. The staff were saying it was one of the worst days they’ve seen in ages. There were people everywhere, people in beds in the middle of wards. People waiting here, there and everywhere. Being in this environment isn’t much fun for anyone, but when you’re feeling low, you’re anxious and you are scared, it’s hell.

I seemed to go everywhere. The walk-in centre to majors, then to minors, then to the emergency decision unit where I was in a waiting room with two police officers and a guy in handcuffs. That didn’t exactly make me feel much better.

I was pretty much ready to discharge myself and leave as I was now deemed medically fit, when the on call psychiatrist showed up. When she came to get me I was curled up in the chair half asleep. She was good with me, though I’m not sure what it exactly achieved.

What I have realised is, nobody wants to be in A&E. Sometimes I worry people are thinking “she did this to herself, it’s her fault she is here”, but it’s just not that black and white. Going through those 10 hours is the last thing I wanted to do in the world. I can think of far better ways to spend my Sunday. Yes, I have to take some responsibility for what I do, but no, it’s not as simple as I want to do this, and I want to go through this.

It’s a difficult one. A drug addict chooses to take drugs, and alcoholic chooses to drink, a self-harmer chooses to hurt themselves and someone with an eating disorder chooses to restrict what they eat, binge or purge. That’s definitely true.

What people do not choose is to go through the circumstances that lead them to making them decisions. They do not choose to find themselves in a position where those things are their only ways of coping. People do not choose those things, with the understanding of what that first drink, that first cut, or that first time skipping a meal, is going to lead to.

Sometimes people fall into negative ways of coping because as maladaptive as it is, it’s their crutch. It’s serving some kind of purpose. At the start, it does help. At the start, you cannot see it as a problem. It feels like a solution. It’s not until much later on that the person realises what it really means to do those things, and sometimes once you’re in that deep, it’s hard to just stop. It’s not a case of wanting or not wanting to stop, sometimes after years and years of doing something, that way of coping has become deeply entrenched.

Getting out of it is going to take a lot of time, and a lot of hardwork, and slip-ups and lapses do not mean the person is not trying.

The paradox is, that although people do not choose for the things that happen in their lives to happen, they do not choose to find themselves in a place where drinking, drugs, self-harm or eating disorders become their way of surviving, people do have to choose to get out of it.

The good thing is, you don’t have to do it alone. People will want to help, support is out there, and you are never alone. You’ve got to do it, but a part of that is accepting the help of others. The other good thing is, you don’t have to be ready. The worst thing you can do is wait until you are because the chances are that you’re never going to be. You’ve just got to make a start. You’ve got to admit there is a problem, seek help, and begin to want to understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and be ready to acknowledge this cannot go on forever, and you don’t really want it to.


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