Well, those that know me well might have noticed I have been a bit quiet over the weekend. I wish I could say that I have been busy planning blog posts or spreading the word, however most of the weekend was spent fighting my own demons. I went into Cardiff on Saturday which amounted to the first time I have been out in public really since hospital and it was a wonderful day. Cardiff is beautiful and holds so many memories for me (most of them a bit fuzzy) but the streets were busy and the sun was shining, life was good.
Then, that now all to common feeling in my pit of my stomach started, I started feeling agitated. The busy streets went from colourful and bustling, to crowded and confusing. I caught myself scratching at my wrist and digging my nails in, I tried to focus on my breathing but the world was closing in. I breathed through lunch but the food was like ash in my mouth, under the table I was pushing one finger nail under the other to try to generate enough pain to override the anxiety. I hate that I have made a mental association between pain and anxiety but I am working on it.
By the time I was back in control nobody had noticed, the great lie that we enact daily had been performed with an oscar winning performance of normality but I was shaken. I can’t remember what I was thinking prior to the onset but I know I was happy so I was not dwelling on a particular problem which kind of got me thinking about my attacks. I know a little bit about how the mind works and I know all the real serious stuff is filed away in the sub conscious, I know with hypnotherapy the skills is getting through the barrier of the conscious and into the subconscious to effect the required change. So its most likely that whilst I was happy on the outside my subconscious was using the time to do some processing of my deeper issues.
The last time I saw my CPN and (first time) psychiatrist they were most insistent that I use self-help to overcome my anxiety rather than relying on medication, I know this is the ultimate goal and I do try but as yet everything I know I have had to learn myself. I will also admit I have not been practising as much as I should but in a busy house where do you find the time to meditate or take an hour to learn and practice CBT. Self help is a lovely idea but it also seems to be a medical fob off, “oh we gave you the information for the online CBT course” or your names on the list for XYZ. These answer? sound hollow when you are thinking about how to discreetly cut yourself.
What really got me through the weekend was a friend, someone I have never met just words on a screen. As you may know I am quite fond of Twitter and I have met some wonderful people on there who have helped me pull through some dark times and I have been there for them. This one person though really came through for me this weekend, not by just giving advice and support but by understanding those things that seem only to be understood by those who have been there. My gratitude to this person knows no bounds, they gave up hours of their time just by talking sharing experiences and generally letting me know that I was not alone.
It is such a relief to know that you have that someone you can depend on. No disrespect to my family and friends but sometimes it is easier to write things to a stranger who you will never look in the eye especially when some of the more weird parts of mental illness need discussing. We shared our problems, each giving the other the time and space to lay out deep feelings long-held in. Shared things that few other knew, we created a bond of trust that would satisfy any medical board. Patient to Patient confidentiality is an unbreakable union.
I have read about peer-to-peer support networking but like most things in mental health everything is fragmented and the information overload overwhelming. I have recently started a little site called MHPathway.org which I hope to grown into a portal page to help people with mental illness find information, help and support more easily. It will have no agenda of its own only to help people sort through the masses of information (often conflicting) and find what they need. I hope that most of what is featured will have been recommended by other sufferers who have come across the information and found it useful. I also hope to include all the main charities and organisations who work so hard on our behalf and even our dear NHS.
I would also like to hear from anyone or any organisation who is working on peer support groups or such things. I believe that the “buddy system” where one watches the back of another and vis versa is a very important part of mental health support that we can organise ourselves. So today I will be promoting the hashtag #MHFriends so that those out there on Twitter at least can find other kindred spirits and maybe others will find someone who they can bond with and share each others burden.
Dedicated to AJ