Those of you who follow me on a twitter will probably have noted that I've been a bit errr... crazy in the head stakes. Partially, this post is going to be a little explaining, partially it's going to be some pondering on mental health issues and how they're often perceived.
So, first things first. I'm not depressed. It's interesting that when you say something's wrong with your brain, people assume you're depressed or at the very least sad. I'm not. What I do have is severe anxiety, which triggers ocd, panic attacks and just a general grim feeling of everything being overwhelming. For the record, this isn't like feeling anxious before a job interview or just worrying about things. It's intense and its debilitating. It feels like the whole world is caving in on you and you're completely out of control. It's possible that I also had a hypomanic period. But we'll ignore that one for now.
The other thing I've noticed is how weird it feels to talk about having a mental health problem. I mean, I talk about everything with anyone. I'm an incredibly open person. If you follow me on twitter, you'll know that there's not much I won't tweet about. But tweeting about my mental health, that made me... uncomfortable. At least to start with. Right now, I'm deciding to screw that uncomfortableness and just tweet my way through things. I'd tweet if I'd been to the Drs and given antibiotics for a chest infection, why on earth shouldn't I tweet I've been given diazepam to calm my brain down?!
Two good things have come out of this. The first is that so many people seem to have started to engage in conversation with me about mental health. Not just mine, but theirs too. Anything that increases the visibility and dialogue about mental health issues can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned. The other good thing that's come out of this is that through the power of Twitter and awesome things, I've manned up and got myself some medical help. Boom!
Saying all of that, I think it's also important for us to acknowledge that for a lot of people, Christmas is a difficult time of year, for a whole host of reasons. I know that Christmas politics are one of the many things that triggered my crazy. Christmas is a difficult time, especially if you're alone or there are things you can't cope with. The wonderful Kellie of Big Fashionista has been compiling a list of useful numbers for anyone who's finding the festive period difficult - be it depression, anxiety, bipolar... please, know that you're not alone. Know that you deserve help, that you're entitled to help, that things can get better. Here's the list. Use it if you need it, pass it on to someone else if you think they might.
0300 123 3393
08457 90 90 90
0845 769 7555
Info line 08000 50 20 20
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
0207 837 7324
0845 767 8000
Preventing young suicide
For people in Northern Ireland
0808 808 8000
0808 2000 247
Eating Disorders Association
0845 634 1414
0808 800 4444
0808 808 0545
And one last thing - why not knock on your neighbours door with a Christmas card and the offer of a festive mince pie this year? You never know the difference it could make :)