Today I rang my GP to discuss increasing my medication for anxiety and depression. It is a phone call that I have been putting off for several weeks, hoping to avoid it, that things would start feeling easier. They haven’t, so I know it is time to ask for help.
Maintaining good mental health is a delicate balance that I have been dealing with for a long time. Things have become harder since having my children and I have suffered two bouts of bad postnatal depression, as well as post traumatic stress disorder. I am pragmatic about needing medication to help: after all, if I was diabetic, I would expect to take insulin to manage the condition.
Despite this, I still struggle with the stigma attached to mental health issues, and I find it hard to admit when the balance is tipping away from my control. Like most people, I do not like to admit when I am having a difficult time. My anxiety is very connected to feelings of failure and negative thoughts, and I prefer to soldier on until it becomes clear that I can’t.
This doesn’t make me strong, just like asking for help doesn’t make me weak. Sometimes I have to work really hard to remind myself of this. I am lucky to have a close group of friends who will also remind me of this, and with whom I can be truly honest. Sometimes it helps to just say, “yes, I am struggling,” and know that they won’t look at me any differently.
True friends take the rough with the smooth and the bad with the good. They are there for you when you’re at your worst, not just your best. They love you when you’re struggling and they hold you up so that you don’t have to go it alone. It is I have friends like these that I found the strength to make the call today.
We need to be more open about and accepting of other’s struggles. Admitting that you’re having a hard time is not a sign of weakness – it is normal, and anyone who judges you negatively for being honest is someone you do not need in your life. Asking for help should be encouraged, not frowned upon.
I know things will get better for me, because they always do. I will ask for help (albeit grudgingly) and I am lucky to have a small number of good friends who will make sure I don’t flounder. Even though I may feel alone, I know that I’m not. And gradually, life will seem easier again.
Stockport is creating a perinatal mental health forum #stockportPNMH
The group is bringing together statutory services, primary care, volunteer organisations and charities to improve the way parents’ mental health is looked after in the perinatal period.
The first meeting will be on Weds 24th February 7.30pm at the Education Room, Maternity Unit, Stepping Hill Hospital.
This meeting will be focussing on raising the knowledge and improving the education of Midwives & Health Visitors around perinatal mental health.