Mental Health Awareness Week - Kirsty's Story
I am writing this pretty cathartic blog post, 5 years after my own mental health crisis. It can happen to anyone at any time so don’t suffer alone. I am a testament that you can come back stronger with a little time and patience.
My children were 3 and 5 at the time, I had a part-time job and my husband, Neil was working away 4 days a week. Sadly, we have no family close by. I had just turned 38.
The big bang
I remember it started around New Year in 2016. The festive song that goes ‘and so this is Christmas….and what have you done?’ hit me like a train! What had achieved in my life? Yes, I had an amazing family, a nice house and we were financially secure, but it didn’t stop the darkness. I was a mess. My kids were only 3 and 5 at the time and my husband Neil worked away 4 days a week and with no family close by it had a huge impact on our family. I struggled to do the most basic of tasks like collecting my children from school or cooking a meal. One of the main issues for me was that I was signed off sick from my part-time job so I had more time to dwell and sit in my own sorrow.
For months I struggled. I was on beta blockers, antidepressants and sleeping medication. My mental health made me selfish and difficult. All I wanted to do was sleep so I could block out the dark thoughts.
The light at the end of the tunnel
I was signed off sick and through my employer, I started having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Having my Springer Spaniel, Holly also helped my mental state. I spent a lot of my anxious times in her company and walking her in the fresh air really helped. Sometimes I would take her for a walk and just sit in the field breathing deeply and being thankful for the sunshine, the soil, and the breeze!
After a few CBT sessions I learned some coping techniques and It became clear that I was unhappy in my job - I no longer valued it and the company I worked for certainly didn’t value me. Also, the pressure of bringing up a young family whilst my husband worked away had taken took its toll, I just want to say here that in no way did I blame Neil for what happened to us, we depended on his job financially (and still do) so we didn’t have any other options at the time. We had no family close by to help either, so it was just one of those things.
After a few months, I noticed I felt lighter, my sleep was improving, and I felt more positive about the future. I opted for redundancy from my part-time job when the opportunity came and I set up my own business, The Refilling Station.
The kids are older now and hopefully don’t remember much from that time. Neil works much closer to home nowadays and due to the wonders of COVID has been home pretty much constantly.
There is still a part of the ‘old anxious’ me that remains as a reminder that I need to take care of myself. I need to make sure I rest and sleep well above all. I try not to feel guilty taking time for myself and I know when I am struggling. I have to draw a line sometimes for example updating my website and writing things like this have stopped because I was feeling overwhelmed. During the last year and a bit with COVID, my anxieties swelled again but I know that this is a normal reaction for me and many others to this situation.
I have an amazing husband who is always on hand to offer me a logical perspective. We’ve been together for 22 years and although logic doesn’t always work for illogical thinking, he knows me well and can often break apart my anxieties, so they have far less power. I also understand my thinking errors more now and how my personality works. My friends were also there for me too. I adore what I do now and what I have achieved and can honestly say I have done loads since I hit rock bottom.
Break down the taboo
I am not at all ashamed of talking about my mental health to anyone who will listen! I don’t have much of a filter! Treating mental health as a taboo subject makes it more powerful in my personal opinion. If you are struggling, talk to your family, friends, neighbours, and your GP basically anyone you feel you can confide in. You can even talk to me! Don’t suffer alone, honestly.
Here is a link to Hub of Hope where you can access information on mental health charities close to you by popping in your postcode.
Also if you need urgent mental health help visit the NHS mental health page