Please consider the content of my blog before reading it. Some of the topics covered in my blog such as: Suicide, Depression, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may make youfeel uncomfortable. If you do feel uncomfortable please seek out appropriate professional and personal support.
Imaging the serine trickle of water emerging from the ground, high up in a beautiful mountain, commencing its journey as the source of a fresh water stream. Taking the path of least resistance, growing as it travels, gaining strength and power, carving it’s own destiny, invincible as it climaxes with its marriage with the ocean.
This could easily describe my path living through successful careers in the Royal Navy, Cheshire Constabulary and Western Australian Police.
For those of you who know me, I hope you would agree with me when I say generally I’m an optimist, bubbly in character, and at times a practical joker with a zest for life. At the time of writing that is, it’s exactly who I am, and for the most part of my life that is who I have been.
However, there was a time when the serenity turned into a nightmare of turbulent white-water rapids, and the deafening crescendo of a powerful waterfall, that kept me pinned underwater gasping for breath and drowning in my own senses.
This was was a period of my life, ten years ago, when I contemplated, planned and attempted to end my life after enduring six months of bullying at work while suffering from Depression and Anxiety. With the experience of hindsight Depression crept up on me, several issues, which had been and were affecting me, finally came to a head causing me to lose control of my life and all logical thinking.
But let’s be clear on one thing, in those darkest depths of despair, I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted the pain to stop and couldn’t see or realise that there was help outside of my own being to help stop that pain.
Some of you reading this will have been unfortunate to be diagnosed and live pinned down by the claws of depression I have no doubt you will relate to my lived experience with your own.
If you are blessed not to have been touched by mental health issues I hope that it may help you realise that it doesn’t discriminate and can creep up on any of us if we give it the opportunity and should be treated with respect and not a taboo subject.
In Australia alone, it’s estimated that at least 45% of the population will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults will be living with Depression and 2 million live with Anxiety.
I’ve shed a few tears while writing this, reflecting about how really ill I was at the time, but in the main for love of my nearest and dearest who held my head above water as I was drowning in vulnerable hopelessness and also I’m shedding tears of gratitude for everything I have in my life.
I’ve learned so much about myself over the last ten years. During my own journey of recovery, which now includes living with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, my family and I also lived through suicide attempts in 2015, by our youngest daughter Holly and have been working closely together to help and support Holly along her journey of recovery.
Through these struggles I have truly become stronger as a person. I’ve found a passion for compassion, to strongly advocate for people living with mental health conditions and working on their mental fitness.
After all recovery is completely achievable from most mental health conditions.
If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT!! It’s okay not to be okay and it certainly is NOT weak to speak up.
If you’re struggling please visit your GP and open up to your loved ones. Finding the right balance of help, that works for you (and this may take some time), whether that ismedication, psychotherapy, psycho-social rehab, self-help books, physical fitness or a combination of all of these.
My GP is aware of my mental fitness journey and we review this each time I go to request another prescription of medication. Yes, I take medication to help me; I have no shame in that. For me it’s no different to taking medication for a physical injury or illness. I’m on a medication called Escitalopram it’s a ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’ or SSRI, it helps balance the chemicals in my brain and keeps me on an even keel with regards to the Depression and Anxiety.
Additionally, I have a wonderful Psychologist (about the 6th I’ve seen over the years), the work we have been doing together over the last 12 months, albeit exhausting and emotional at times, is truly helping me unpack historical baggage and process trauma that I have picked up and been carrying throughout my life. I genuinely look forward to each session.
Physical fitness and exercise is a very important part of my recovery. I love the meditative state I get in to when I’m distance running. It is believed that 23 minutes of rigorous exercise can improve a person’s mood for at least 12 hours. I certainly feel much better after exercise, more energy, improved mood and feel physically better.
I have amazing Peer Support from my wonderful friends at Sirens of Silence Charity Inc, from my running family in the Rogue Runners Club Australia, from closest friends here in Australia but also life long friends from around the world.
Probably most importantly, I talk openly to my loved ones about how I feel, whether I’m having a good or not so good day, without their love and support I wouldn’t be the person I have grown into today. They know what coping strategies work for me and how to keep me motivated to achieve my goals.
Finding my voice and sharing my lived experience living with mental health conditions also helps me with my recovery. I gain strength from educating and helping others. I’m passionate about dispelling the myths that have become attached to mental health conditions and I’m focused on continuing to break down the barriers created by stigma.
If the untruthful mark of disgrace that stigma places on people isn’t bad enough, but when it becomes dogma within a culture or societies belief system then it causes real barriers and obstructions for people to reach out for the care they really need.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing guest blog posts and highlighting the 7 Principles of Recovery (below) and how we can implement these to help ourselves and others:
1. Hope and Optimism
3. Person Centered
4. Strengths and Interests Based
5. Inclusive of carer’s and social networks
Thank you for joining me.
Please fell free to contact me, to become a guest blogger or provide feedback via email at: TheKiltedRogueRunner@outlook.com
https://www.beyondblue.org.au Tel: 1300 22 46 36
https://www.lifeline.org.au/ Tel: 133 11 14
https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au Tel: 1300 65 94 67