05.23am is one of the most significant points of my life. It was the time I was admitted to a Psychiatric Ward. So that is why I decided to name this blog it because it changed my whole life, and my family's life completely. They have been my rock throughout all this and would not have coped without them.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Finding the words

Here's the big question; How do you tell or talk to your parents and friends about your mental health issues? For most people this is one of the first and hardest of many hurdles to clear. So many things went through my head. How will they respond? Will it change everything? Will they treat me differently? How will it impact my family? And a million other thoughts. Mostly? I worried about their reactions and whether it would change the relationships I have with my family and friends. I must say I have been extraordinarily lucky on the whole, with the reaction of the people around me. My family have all come to terms with it in their own way and our relationships are stronger than ever. But this does not mean that worrying about it was irrational because sometimes it is hard to describe how you feel, or what is happening inside your head without scaring people or making yourself feel worse. In the sense that finally verbalising what is happening can make it seem very real all of a sudden. This can be very scary but is an important step to take but if you stick to the facts and just be honest about it will make you feel better than if you tell half truths or lies. I cannot really say what it is like for a parent whose child develops a mental illness, and I wouldn't even try to second guess what they have gone through with me. But it is clear it can be difficult and scary for them too, so do go easy on them, because the chances are it is just as new and intimidating for them as it is for you .
My friends have been equally great. It seemed to me that they just took it in their stride and when you share something so personal with your friends I have found it creates a very deep bond. Even though I am no longer at university I feel connected to them in a way I cannot explain, they were so good to me. What with my almost weekly trips (for a while) to the hospital and the strange people visiting me in our flat. I would have understood if they had not wanted me to still live with them or be around them, as they saw the damage I could do to myself first hand, which I would think is fairly frightening. But instead it felt like they just held me closer to themselves.  I won't name names but the hugs, the cups of tea and the general being there for me was invaluable and if you do read this you guys know who you are! :)


Starting the conversation can be very tricky and emotional, that is just fact. But how to end the conversation on the right tone can be equally hard. Both for you and the person on the other end of what you are saying. I have found the trick is simple: be honest, to the point, don't try and play it down and constantly watch how the person you are telling is responding; so then you know once it is over how to leave it. Some, in fact most I have had have ended with a hug and a quiet word in my ear. However some people may need time to take it all in, if they do then give it to them because it can be a lot to digest, especially if they have never encountered mental illness before. Some may react badly and there is no skirting around the issue that some people do, and that is their problem and their ignorance. I have found that the people who matter the most, love you however you are and whatever you have.

3 comments:

  1. Sam, I think this blog is wonderful and a great idea!

    Telling people is still the bit I find the hardest I think.
    If I try to explain to my mother, it terrifies her, so I just don't.
    I went through another quite severe break down in March, which resulted in me being admitted for a short while. I didn't even tell my boyfriend of the time, because I was so scared what his reaction would be.
    I feel like I need to tell someone though.
    Perhaps I should start a blog too!
    I really admire you for being able to speak out about it.

    Also, congrats on Yoda!

    Missing you very much xxx

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