Whaddup, my homies? Let’s talk about mental health!!
Well, that seems as good a way to start as any.
So, as anyone who has seen my latest video will know (WOW! SUCH PLUG!) I’ve been having a not so great time mental health-wise lately. (Seriously though, if you’ve got 16 minutes or so to spare, go grab a cup of tea and give it a watch.)
Okay, back to your regularly scheduled unplugged post.
The video is a long, sleep-deprived rambling and I touch on my mental health stuff, but I brush passed it relatively quickly, partly because it was an impromptu, unplanned, unscripted vlog and partly because I’m not very good at talking it all through properly yet. I am very aware though that I don’t want it to be something I feel like I can’t talk about openly. Feeling ashamed or stigmatised because of differing brain chemistry is the furthest thing from helpful. I also know that open conversations about mental health are very important to normalise it and to help anyone else who is dealing with similar things feel less crazy and alone.
So. Let’s talk.
Last semester (hell semester as I dubbed it, fairly accurately I feel) was bad. Very much of the not good variety. Right before the semester began, like literally the week before classes commenced, I had a bunch of doctors’ appointments. I went to the GP, then the psychiatrist and finally an ADHD specialist. SURPRISE! I HAVE ADHD! I was also officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Gee whiz, what a plot twist! See, we have all the narrative drama you could possibly want or need here on Frizzbiscuit, do subscribe (the shameless plugging really lightens the tone of this post, amiright?)
Let me walk you through how my brain was working at that point. Hearing ADHD, anxiety and depressing used in relation to me was terrifying. Also, as I said, I was just about to start what was supposed to be my final semester of uni, so I was already stressed out and not equipped to deal.
Initiate panic mode:
this is bad
keep it together
conceal, don’t feel
everything is fine
except it’s not, is it?
they just said it’s not fine.
Except it is.
ADHD is pretty common. It’s still super undiagnosed though, less so in America now I think, but in Australia I think there is still very little awareness about it, besides the snide jokes about hyperactive children, but ADHD is a thing and I have it, have had it my entire life as far as I’m aware. Of course I had no idea so I was untreated up until this very year. Anxiety and depression are both also very common, especially when you also have ADHD, and even more especially when it’s left untreated for so long. Various external life factors have only served to exacerbate them for me as well.
It’s a cocktail of pure unadulterated fun right up in my brain, let me tell you. Let’s paint a verbal picture.
My entire life, I always thought I was just overreacting or being a baby when I got really upset or angry or started crying to the point of hyperventilation (whoa, yep, shit’s starting to get real now). It was a rare thing that I truly felt happy as a kid. Everything just felt out of control. I remember wishing very vividly when I was perhaps 9 or 10 that someone I knew would die, so then at least I would have an excuse for feeling so shit all the time. That would have made sense; people lose someone they love, they grieve. That makes sense.
Of course, then I’d feel horrifically guilty and go into a shame spiral, because what an awful, if not evil, thing to wish more death and pain into the world to make your own emotional state seem justified. I never felt like I had earned the right to feel the way I do. What did I have to be upset about with my middle-class comfort and loving family and amazing friends and good education? Mind you, I also thought everyone had pain and sadness like this sometimes and that’s just life so I shouldn’t try and be a special snowflake about it, so I’d push it away. Here comes the Frozen again: conceal, don’t feel, don’t deal.
I pushed through it, all through high school and the majority of uni. I got mostly good grades, I read a lot, I played clarinet in band, I had amazing friends, truly, the best of friends. I don’t know how well I would have done without them. I was fine most of the time; things were manageable. Sometimes things went wrong though, and that’s when I had the tendency to spiral out of control, break down, isolate myself, hide from my problems.
Such a healthy way of dealing! (That was sarcasm, isolating yourself is not healthy, don’t do that.)
Around this time, Pottermore told me I was a Gryffindor. I scoffed.
Fast forward through a lot of the same to now. I’ve begun receiving treatment. I have medication that has been enormously beneficial in helping normalise and balance me. To be honest, I was still kind of on the fence about whether there was actually something “wrong” with me, despite all the diagnoses, until I realised the positive effect medication had on my day to day life and mental health situation.
I’ve still got a long way to go. There are still a lot of things I need to do to continue keeping my brain in line. There are some days that are really good, there are some that are really bad, but I’m doing my best not to just ignore the problem anymore.
I’m mostly dealing, acceptance and all that jazz!
This post was kind of testing the waters. I’ll probably make videos about my experience with ye olde mental health at some point in the future, but at the moment it’s just exponentially easier to write about than verbalise.
Until such a time as that changes, this will do.
If you are struggling yourself, here are some helpful sites:
WA Mental Health Emergency Help
ALSO! Charlieissocoollike and Doddloddle have made some great videos that were really helpful for me, so I thought I would share them with you guys as well. God bless open discussions about mental health on YouTube!