Thinking Positive

13/3/2017

Today’s morning mantra!
“You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way”- Dr. Seuss

I don’t know if this is similar in other areas of England and other countries, but from my experience in secondary school (high school) I found a lot of my attitudes on delicate subjects were unknowingly influenced by the people I was around in school. I’ve always had issues with my mental health since before I can remember but when I was in secondary school it was worse because my PTSD and depression started becoming more apparent and my anxiety was at a very distinctly influential stage in my life. A lot of things seemed to have influenced my perceptions on certain topics that I feel has severely affected me now that I have to actually seriously consider them. For example, in my year group in secondary school there was a disturbing trend of self-harm, low self-esteem and depression that made these serious topics seem cool and in a way popular. All of the popular people in my year ranging from the ages of thirteen to sixteen years old all forced these issues onto themselves to continue to be popular amongst peers. It was very typical, especially in our later years in school, for popular girls that were perfectly happy to fake intense depression and make up dark scenarios amongst peer groups in order to get sympathy and popularity. I never understood it even back then and now at twenty years old it makes even less sense me.

I was never popular, from starting to school and even in university now I only really have small groups of close friends, my home town was notorious for delinquent teenagers and a weird anti-social generation that severely affected the outcasts in classes and so I never really had people like me to be around.

Anyway, the reason this is an important backstory is that, by now, you guys know my story. My fight with mental illness and my general experiences leading up to me moving away from home to study. But I’ve found recently the influences of my teen years in my small home town have been affecting me even more recently. I always used to pride myself on my opened-mindedness…especially regarding mental health. I heard for years that it’s such a delicate topic that no-one really talks about it openly so in a way I made it my mission to change that somehow, that’s how this blog was made of course. But after speaking to professionals on the topic, I realise in regards to my personal mental health I am actually quite lax and in some ways even harming with my thoughts. I wanted to share my lesson with you guys in the hopes you can gain some insight into this topic and won’t make the same mistake I have made for years.

I have never considered using medication for my mental health issues, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression from a very young age and thought that eventually it would fade if I worked hard enough. To be fair, I should know better as a science student, but hey, we learn something new every day, right? When I think about it, it isn’t a very efficient way of thinking about it, you’d think after 10+ years with these issues I’d figure out I was doing something wrong. My doctor made a very valuable point to me after I refused to take medication, she stated that if I was suffering with any other illness, such as cancer since it runs in my family, or diabetes or anything long-term like that, I certainly wouldn’t refuse treatment on the off chance that I may be able to get better on my own, of course I would take medication for it. I feel like my youth has influenced me a lot that even though I have these issues and I know a lot of other people who suffer from other mental health problems, I still don’t see them as an actual illness or disease like other physical illnesses in the world. It’s weird, right? I have learnt for years about brain diseases and illnesses that affect the brain in some way and yet when I hear the term ‘mental illness’ I still never connect it as an actual illness. A lot of people don’t too so in a way I’m not on my own in this thought process but I see it certainly isn’t a very healthy or accurate outlook to have. I’ve been through years of counselling, therapy, self-help strategies I found online but the issue is that these illnesses I have and that I imagine a lot of you also share with me, is that it’s completely physical, it’s not like it’s a simple bad mood that you can solve with icecream and a good movie (although it does help of course) it’s hormonal and physical and to solve anything like that it also needs a physical correction like medication.

I was scared at first, the idea of putting my faith of healing into something I can’t actually control was terrifying to me, especially when they spewed out the many side-effects and small print that came along with it. But I feel like I need to give it a try, after suffering for more than half of my life I should give it a try, right? I go for a consultation soon and then, hopefully, will start treatment within the week. So while I go through treatment I’ll keep my experiences documented in case any of you guys are worried about trying it too or have the same outlook I had that they won’t help. These things aren’t talked about enough in the open and I feel like that just leads to more suffering when people feel too scared to take the chance or feel like they don’t have enough information to make a informed opinion. So I will put aside my anxiety for once and hopefully I won’t be the only one to benefit from this experience.

Be happy, healthy and hopeful
~AJ

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