Mental Health – A Deadly Disease
TRIGGER WARNING – Sensitive Topic to Follow
Mental Health has received a lot of attention in the media, from awareness of domestic violence, depression and asking the big question, Are You OK?
Is it enough? Is there enough support for mental health issues, especially given figures cited in social media of the rates of women killed by men and the rate of farmers, mostly male, suiciding due to the conditions they are now facing.
Suicide – a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
This is how someone once explained my thought processes around my desire to be done with life because it was all too hard and I didn’t want to feel like I was fighting to survive. When things got so desperate, so hopeless and the pain felt like it would never, ever end, ending my life seemed a viable option. The feeling of no longer having any control, to not be able to problem solve, to be overwhelmed no matter which way I went, no matter who I spoke to, not matter any suggestions of a way forward, it was too hard. The prospect of never having to deal with anything and never having to feel so useless and hopeless and such a burden to those I loved and cared for, really was a good idea. I mean, really, who would love to have all their problems gone? Of course, I did think that suicide was that, an end to all my woes. But after kind and gentle words, I realized it was an end to all things I did love. It was an end to relationship with my children and the start of a life without a mummy for them. I couldn’t face putting them in that position. For some, that love of children is still too much to bare and too much of a hardship to have to parent day in and day out when feeling useless. These dark times tell us that our kids are better off without us. These dark times paint each and every scenario of life with the worst possible outcomes and options that there seems no point in trying to choose as the choice of death is the light in the darkness where all pain, suffering and struggles end.
For me, it has been five years since I have seriously thought that life would be better if I were not part of the living. Thinking that no longer having to battle and face my demons was a peace well and truly over due to me. It is a horrible and dark place when there is no one to gently guide you through the darkness and bring you safely to the other side. I have been blessed with an amazing man, who in our very early days, five years ago, had to walk through this with me. Well I guess he didn’t have to. He could of walked away. It was early in our relationship and he certainly could have walked away and thought I was a crazy girl and way to much hard work. But he didn’t. He talked to me and guided me out of the darkness. He has endured some tough days with me and he has been there for every one of them.
Since moving into my current place, 18 months ago, I have supported six people through suicidal ideation. Some I knew had mental health struggles and some I had no idea, and one a stranger from facebook world. The reason I tell you this, is not to make this about me and expect praises from you all. It is to highlight the fact that you never know who is having a hard time and just when you may be that safety net on the other end of the phone, or messenger or even in person. I am noone special. I love people and I love helping and giving. I have been known to be a rescuer too. That is not a good thing, for the most part. The downside is that people take advantage of you and use you and you can be feeling hurt and alone. This has happened to me on numerous occasions. The upside, of which is honouring to say the least, is that people come to you for help. Now, I struggle with being good enough to do anything worthwhile. I struggle to think that I will soon need a job to have an income for me and my boys as they transition from school to the workforce. Self doubt, feeling not good enough, is a work in progress for me that will be one of the things I deal with over the coming months. I do what I can do, to help others and to be there for others. I try to be a woman of my word and walk the talk of caring and loving others. In being there for others, I have noted three common themes that run through these moments of darkness; broken relationships, lack of community and personal contact with others and therefore isolation.
There is a saying that says: “It takes a village to raise a child”. I think we have lost our villages in the everyday life of working to survive, to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. Often, both mum and dad are working and the grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Are we too materialistic? Are we so focused on things and technology and not being left behind in this fast paced world that we forget to take time to just be. If we all made time to just be, to sit in the quiet, to have a genuine chat with someone and not just small talk, would we see the statistics for depression, anxiety and particularly suicide start to fall? Making time for others, in person, without our phones distracting us, letting the person we are sitting with know they are valuable to us and can have our undivided attention for that moment in time. Would we see a kinder and more loving world?
In the past two months I have called police or mental health services to come to the aide of two people. I was concerned that their talk of suicide would be actioned. Was I over reacting? Hindsight told me no, as the people concerned were glad that help was called and it allowed them to start to get the help they needed. Did I feel guilty about it? I sure did. I was concerned at the consequences of those admissions as they were both scheduled, which means it was not a voluntary admission but an admission to protect them against themselves. I so wanted both these people to know that a permanent solution to a temporary problem was really not the answer. I did also think that as one person was aged 85, turning 86 this year, that I can see how they are tired of fighting to be heard and tired of fighting for their happiness when another has so much control and power in that specific set of circumstances. I understood that darkness. I think I even understand wanting to leave on my own terms and leave knowing that I had a long life and a much longer life than anticipated. However, I could not be party to assisting a suicide. And that is a topic for a whole discussion on its own -euthanasia.
For me, I can now reach out to a few friends. I also have my partner, and my siblings but sometimes family are the last people you want to know how much you are struggling. For me, I don’t want to burden them and I don’t want them watching me every moment of the day because they are worried about me. I have to be aware not to isolate myself too much or for too long as the pity party me of being lonely and having no friends will come and dance and play that game. The darkness will creep in as I feel isolated and alone and think that no one cares. And, it is easy to feel that way, not wanting to be a burden and knowing that everybody has their own busy life so not calling anyone. I still catch myself playing that game. I am also getting better at recognizing that game and making positive steps to change that dance. But it takes time and practice.
Having spent most of my married life in counselling and still getting to the point of thinking I was crazy and need to spend a lot of time in a psychiatric hospital, I learnt with a new therapy that I was actually ok. I was a victim of circumstances and the fact that I had experienced what I did, made sense to me now as to why I would visit the suicidal ideation regularly. In the early days it was an escape that I let dance in my mind but could not carry through. As I learnt and grew in and through my pain, the reality of self harm surfaced experimentally. I wondered if t really would help ease the pain. As I further grew in healing, the suicidal ideation was joined with dissociation and having voices in my head, which also helped me on my healing journey. You see, the outworking of all these issues was my body’s way of me surviving such huge emotions as I had been trained not to feel, not to crumble and not to give in. The old adage of being told that I had made my bed and now I can lie in it, carried through so much of my adult life that I did not think I could choose a different path. No wonder my mind was in distress and no wonder that my body is now showing those abuses through chronic pain. I am hopeful that my new psychologist will help me finish working through the trauma issues. I don’t think I will have any more suicidal ideations, but I am aware that it may happen as I work through the abuse and trauma of the past that plague my sense of self worth and self identity, still today. I am aware of how well I mask being confident and self assured but it is often a mask. I think fake it till you make has helped me become more real and authentic as that is what and who I want to be. But faking till you make it, in confidence in myself, is a mask as the doubt runs deep and long. And in light of knowing this, I think this is where suicidal ideation may rare itself in the future. However, I am also aware that I am walking a path of truth and authenticity of being me, that maybe those issues of the past do not haunt and hold like they once did.
During most of my healing, my faith is what helped hold the fears and darkness at bay. The bible verse that held me to a better life was:
Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”
In recent years, I have added natural therapy supports to my mental health support and have been using essential oils from doTerra. I love the names of these oils: Balance, Cheer, Elevation, Clary Calm and most recently a limited edition oil blend called Beautiful. I use them are perfume and have ditched the regular store purchased perfumes in preference to plant based oils for perfumes.
If you are struggling and need support, here are some resources for you:
Lifeline Australia: PH 13 11 14. Website: www.lifeline.org.au
Beyond Blue: PH: 1300 22 4636. Website: www.beyondblue.org.au
Suicide Prevention: www.headsup.org.au
Suicide Prevention and Education: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Blessings and take care of each other