I have spent the last few weeks like a zombie, swamped by my mental illness. I have been given lots of drugs to numb my anxiety, dull my psychotic episodes and to keep me as safe as possible whilst I go through this mental health breakdown. The Crisis (home-based treatment) Team have been really supportive and thorough with me.
I have been trudging through the motions of everyday life, work and, trying to please people but not managing to please anyone (including myself) because of my mental illness clashing with my personality.
I’ve alluded to “struggling” on my social media but I haven’t told you how bad my mental illness made me and what happened, because I am still in it and I also don’t want to trigger you, in case you’re fragile like me.
I am feeling a bit less suicidal but I am very delicate. As with any dark mental wave of mine, I try and use this time to be as creative and useful as possible.
So my reason in writing this is to help myself by expressing what I need to help me recover from my mental illnesses or at least cope, but it is also to help others who care for someone or want to support a person going through a mental health crisis. But please bare in mind this is just my views and every human being is an individual.
So let’s begin… (I am writing it in first person, from my broken heart):
- Treat me like me, I am still me, even if I seem a shell of my former (pre-breakdown) self, I am still me. I can’t find me right now and you struggle to see me as I am now. But I am still me. I am an individual. So please treat me with the same love and respect as you did before. Think how you would treat me if I was off sick with a serious physical illness (I know mental illness brings it’s own challenges), even token gestures like flowers or cards or positive affirmations are still appreciated, even if you may be scared during my mental health crisis.
- I know my actions are damaging to myself but it’s not your fault. You haven’t done this to me, but you can still help me. That said…
Don’t try to fix my illness. I am very poorly at the moment with death just a touch away. So it will be a long hard slog to rid me of this illness. It will be complicated but please just stand by me, you can’t fix me right now but you can stand by me.
- I am not thick. I am still a complex human being. You don’t need to belittle me or treat me like I am stupid. Even if I seem unable to respond or too sedated or manic to care, somewhere deep inside me I am still there. I have fought this far. Don’t give up on me yet.
4.Please look after yourself. You too are not invincible. You too have a mental health to protect.. So get support whether it be through my mental health team (if you’re a close relative) or trusted friends or a charity. Please look after you because I need you more than ever.
5. Tough love won’t work right now. I can’t hate myself anymore than I already do. Shocking me, is just likely to push me over the edge. I know you mean well but it is like forcing someone bed-bound to run a marathon. I just need love.
6. I am not doing this for attention. I actually hate the attention. But I am poorly and I need this help right now.
7. Ask me what would help. And keep asking and suggesting. My brain is foggy so I may not know what I need but by taking the time to try and help and get to know what is helping and what isn’t, can really help. Normally, when my brain is struggling I find long conversations difficult. So practical help is best for me. Help me keep on top of the housework. Help me go to the gym. Help me do the positive things I normally enjoy but now I need your support to do even the simplest of things
8. Be my advocate. I am struggling to get through each day, let alone navigate the care system so please be my voice. Listen to me, listen to the nurses and doctors, challenge them and try and work with me and them to find the best care.
9. Please don’t avoid me. I know it is so tough and I fell such a burden. But please don’t ignore me. Talk to me. Be gentle. Be kind. Please help me to see that there is a way out of this. Please lead me to the light even if I try to fight it sometimes. All I can see is the pitch black right now but that may not be forever.
10. I am sorry I don’t reply right now to your calls or messages. I am sorry I struggle to show emotion towards you. I’m having an out-of-body experience and I am trapped in my own distant world.
11. I know suicide and self-harm seems so cruel, so thought out, so painful and so hurtful to you. But all I want to do is escape. I feel there is no hope. It isn’t always me wanting to harm myself, it is the voices in my head. Just as any physical disease can be cruel and unfair, so is mental illness. It is the only way I can cope right now. It is the only way I can think to get rid of this pain. I am not being rational or logical, so please don’t compare me to your thought processes. I am desperate and I hate putting you through this.
12. Self-care for both of us. Remind me how I like to be pampered or treated. Remind me to shower and to do things I used to love. Help me to have moments when I can escape. The best gift someone gave me recently is Sam from Aloha Holistic Therapies in Sheffield. On seeing my posts she sent me a two-hour massage and pamper voucher.
13. Hold my hand (metaphorically, not literally right now), buy me flowers, treat me well, be gentle and get help for you and me.
Whilst someone who is in the depths of a mental health crisis may seem like they’re choosing to give up, you may think it’s your fault. But none of that matters right now. Let’s just try keep our heads above the water, together.
These are just some ideas, don’t worry you don’t have to do everything, I just wanted to share with you my thought processes.
If you have suggestions which have helped you or a loved one, please comment below, it would be great to create a list.
PEACE AND LOVE TO YOU ALL. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. IF IN AN EMERGENCY CRISIS CALL 999 (IN THE UK) OR IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING CALL 111 (UK).