Mental Health Awareness Week

Everyone has a story to tell when it comes to Mental Health. If you asked anyone who knows me what are my most identifiable characteristics they would probably say confidence, fun, i’m outgoing and a bubbly personality. And although that’s what you may see, what people don’t know is that behind that smile and laughter i was masking sadness, struggles and depression. Here is my story:

It was March 2016. I had just come out of the shower and went straight to my room to dry off. I distinctly remember standing at the side of the bed where the dresser and mirror was. Having dried off i turned towards the mirror and caught a glimpse of my naked self. It was like time had stood still. I just stared at myself and thought how ugly I am, how fat i had got and how useless i felt. I touched the stretchmarks across my stomach from my pregnancy with Lily, i touched my nose and face, I looked down at my body and I cried. Thinking about it now, it was never about how i looked, i think it was at that moment, I was bare and exposed and could no longer hide from myself and the truth of having depression. The days that followed I became more tired, i couldn’t find the motivation to shower myself, i hid my body under layers of clothes and i struggled to even get out of bed.

I had to go to the doctor for a lump I was feeling in my throat. She examined me, took a step back, just looked at me and asked me “Are you OK”?. I couldn’t help but blurt out crying. She asked me several times to talk to her and tell her what was going on but I couldn’t. She asked if i would be comfortable writing it down on a piece of paper and she promised she would shred it afterwards. She put me in a private room for a short while to write down what i was feeling and what i was going through. Although I didn’t disclose everything, I wrote how I was struggling financially…I was accumulating such debt…on a €173 euro weekly income I had to pay €175 childcare fees (yes i was starting the week -€2), there was times when I would have to decide if i would pay for the bus ticket to college or eat that day, I was working on a mandatory college placement for free because i had no other option, I was primary carer for my grandmother who was diagnosed with dementia, I was having problems with my daughters dad, I was struggling coming to terms with my mum’s death and the trauma of finding her dead when I was just 19 (I never talked about that day to anyone. Even now as i type this, i still haven’t been able to talk about it properly). I was having several panic attacks a week that completed drained me physically and severely impacted my sleep at night. My GP read the note on her own, came and got me, asked me some questions and within minutes I was diagnosed with Clinical Moderate Depression.

My GP was fantastic. She implemented a treatment plan asap and told me to come back on a weekly basis for check ups. I was referred to counselling and prescribed medication. I was relunctant to talk at first because I could never explain my depression until I came across a video one day…

After watching the video , I was finally able understand how I was feeling and what it was. When i finally understood what it was, I began to tell my very close friends. At first, they were shocked. “But your always smiling and laughing and having fun” was pretty much the reaction I got from a lot of people. But as i sat and talked , they listened and supported me through what was a very difficult time in my life. Whilst on my college placement, I had to tell my manager I had to leave for counselling. I was scared to tell her directly so I sent it in an email. After reading it, she came out to my desk and told me that she has battled depression as well , that i should never have to be alone and that she was always there to talk should I need to. I was shocked to know that the people i thought were living great lives had struggled too. I guess in a sense, when people seen me smile & laugh, they too had no idea that someone who seemed so externally happy was struggling with internal battles.

I guess in a sense I believed it too. I was so busy trying to look happy and be happy that when i finally had that moment in March 2016, there was nothing but me and the truth, I couldn’t hide from it any longer. Having watched yet another youtube video, I found a focus living with my depression. My focus everyday was to do 1 thing, and that was to make my bed…

As my mood started to improve, I was starting to feel a bit better in myself. I wanted more from life. I didn’t want my depression to dictate how i should live so i booked myself on a one day workshop on the 19th March 2016 in Galway, Ireland hosted by Pat Divilly after reading his blog “101 things to do before 30”.

I learned so much about myself that day. I learned that circumstance does not limit my ability to make the most of my life. Since that day I have gone on to get two degrees from college BBS & BBS (Hons) in Tourism. I have completed a full Tough Mudder, I have climbed mountains, ran mud runs, I learned to swim, I have done things that i have always wanted to do ..

I’m still living with depression, some days are fantastic and some days I feel low. Some days I’m tired and other days I can run a 10k but I still get up every morning and make my bed.

We all have different coping mechanisms and although it may seem very basic and simplistic, having to make my bed got me up in the morning when all i wanted to do was hide away from the world.

Love & Light to you all finding it hard

Bridget x

____________________________________________________________________

If you or someone you know is struggling please talk to someone. Reaching out is hard but there is a hand there to help guide you and support you

For (Ireland based) mental health supports check out:

https://www2.hse.ie/services/mental-health/services-search/

For services in the United Kingdom check out :

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through the dark days, you all were my shining light. x

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