Trigger Warning: This post contains a personal experience of mental health difficulties and addiction.
Remembering back to My first week in primary, Jr infants..I from the start felt uncomfortable and fretful, In what I viewed as a huge room full of strangers, I was extremely nervous, Just that initial feeling I did not belong there! I remember the cutting sensation in my stomach, being walked to school some days, feeling what is known now as Anxiety, Fear of the unknown, premeditating, Always expecting the worst, No way to live so young, but it was reality for me day in & day out…
As for most, growing up can be hard, yes children can be cruel too. Due to stigma around mental health, In those days some conditions got passed off as ‘A bold child’, We are far more aware of it now,I was blessed to of naturally have had survival tactics that kept me alive on the streets, Staying clean and sober was hard but I knew due to neglecting or ignoring the real problems. I wasn’t going to make out!, I Did, from my tent, with 2 collies, canine friends.
Always keeping in mind the positive foundation I was building from a tent, My G.P was within walking distance. I used to walk to the church to charge my phone, prepared I’d wake each morning with my 2 collies, My canine besties and protection, and face another day in a positive mode, no substance unless prescribed, no alcohol, more of a fighting chance, always found nature & animals very therapeutic. A freedom within beautiful green fields and wooded land, Even choose St Francis as a confirmation name, HIM being pageant saint of nature, I am a little spiritual with some things. I always found nature very therapeutic, it was my peace, a distraction from civilization and busy life. I was a strong candidate for social phobias, anxiety,depression, insomnia since early in life I’ve kept dogs all my life, loyal and GREAT COMPANY.
Being truthful, my life has seen in some dark places & had spiraled over not facing my demons and NEARLY LAND ME IN MY GRAVE, A COUPLE OF TIMES. It’s not pretty But Something in me, wouldn’t let me die, It was my 3 children I was staying alive & well for at that stage, I had reason! Even tho, I couldn’t quite keep up with the stress, no sleep, on my own, drowning in depression, postnatal! I had to make the decision after 4/5 years, that I’m not well and my kids deserved a good shot at life, like anyones, love can be selfish, I was holding on… but deep down, I did the right thing. I had to find myself first, get well, I then seen reassurance in my babies eyes as I got better & stronger, a devastating decade without them, Worth every grain of suffering to see my children to be proud of me now, My love for them is endless, One of my reason for strength & stamina for consistency.
Mental health difficulties were swept under the carpet for a long time or went undiagnosed, I was trying to do it without support, I was a silly girl!!! People weren’t familiar, acceptant & of course, had stigma around it. I was looking in all the wrong places & self medicating to feel or be normal, leading to substance that were easy for me to get my hands on, Painfully it got out of control from there.
Continuing in that state of mind, what I believed would help me fit in, The s**t hit the van as an old saying goes… I fell into all sorts of pointless trouble and stupidity, life got a lot more difficult to unravel, leading me into a life of Dual Diagnosis, MIND & BODY were in trouble at that stage, for some, undiagnosed, take someone to their knees, literally for me!
Little of what I thought I was aware or in control of, Into my teens I was out of control, leaving years of destructive behaviour, path of debris,worry, heartache , Worse of all, Resentments. Sadly for some an irreversible vicious circle! Or through following others to make a statement, when you could be a solid statement on yourself. Find yourself, maybe even learn to laugh, ‘With’ others, Rather than at them, M.H could happen to anyone at any age in life, Please don’t judge!!. Humour can be a wonderful medicine at times, but with respect and consideration of course.Humour is a cure in itself at times I found.
Parents having no answers back then, for a screaming child,severe irritability, realised later on in life, A chemical imbalance deep in the brain which was destroyed since birth, affecting the emotional and behavioural domain i part of the limbic system deep within the brain, by 16 warped in addiction due to self medicating from unexplained fear , anxiety and depression, Spiraling into what now understood as DPD, or ‘dual diagnosed’
All the problems formed into a vicious circle, I was trapped, I felt hopelessness in my heart, I was mentally and physically broken, That’s hard for me to say. But It was what had become of me, Crippling disease in spine at 36, a tough one, But I’m managing.
I believe we all carry a bit of denial?! But admittance, get educated on your base surface issues you feel you have, like half the room behind ya, get real then first to tackle issues, having a better understanding of the scenario, then acceptance, isnt easy but perfectly possible now because of associations and activities made available by people who work very hard at creating a safe haven, with little funding, as mental health becomes what’s real now, than what some might want to believe, Don’t leave stigma take your chance at being happy in your life. Everyone deserves to feel some contentment and placement.
I think Cognitive development is an absolute must these days, I feel it should be started at primary level, be part of our daily curriculum, part of our life learning, Simply part of our daily life.
‘Gestalt psychology explains a lot about my disorder, AND DIVERGENTS OF ISSUE INTO CREATIVITY AND MUCH MORE, LOOK HIM UP, INTERESTING WHEN YOU START UNDERSTANDING FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN, ANXIETY, PERSONALITY TYPE, you may have a lot more to you than what you think, Educate yourself on issue, illness, or disease for some, Don’t judge! We all have different minds,thoughts & beliefs… In a safe environment with the right support, Chances of being happy are endless, Nothing in this life comes easy so we do need to work at things a little harder sometimes, Don’t be discouraged over that, Speak up, You have a voice now, you’re somebody too!!!
My opinion lads, roll them sleeves up, grab the bull by both horns as the saying goes, and push your way to a better place mentally, and physically, exercise, scientists still trying to figure out the connection & answer there, but brilliant for your mind’s wellbeing,
We are forever growing and learning, working to gain a more productive life, gain structure,routine, Get involved in areas of interest, Have a support network, Eventually peace of mind, ‘priceless’ understanding more about who you are,Is where the answers will be, I found it, So will you!!?, Don’t ever give up enquiring or finding yourself, Help them Help You!?! Use the system, It’s what it’s there for.
Don’t be A STRANGER…
Always keep the faith my friend
Hazel O’ B-T
Hazel O’Brien is originally a country girl, schooled in Blarney, mental health hit, then addiction, witness death,misery, fear that would eventually affect you physically, temperamental a bit, bad nerves but a strong soul and optimistic.
Disclaimer: opinions and views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Limerick Mental Health Association