It's over 18 months ago that I wrote the piece "Mental Illness In The Creative Sector - You Are Not Alone" and yet it seems like yesterday.
The article highlighted the likelihood that a large number of our community would be struggling with stress-related illnesses such as anxiety, panic attacks and depression. The response we got at the time was fantastic, the stories that some shared were moving. You can read some of them in the comments left here,
I learnt yesterday that someone close to me is struggling right now and felt it right to bring this subject to the foreground again. The mental health charity MIND has these statistics which suggest you or someone close to you is going to struggle at some point, don't do it alone.
- Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
- In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
I shared my story in a separate article, here is an excerpt;
"I remember it vividly as if it was yesterday, I was in my mid-twenties and I came home one evening and felt tired so went to bed before an evening meal. Then an hour later I tried to get up to go to the bathroom but felt completely exhausted, I thought I might have the flu, but not only did I feel exhausted I also had this overwhelming sense of dread. It was as if I could not see any future, not in a year, a month, a week, a day, even in the next hour, it was as if my life had ended but I was still breathing.
As the days and weeks went on and although the exhaustion passed the sense of dread and fear did not. It was as if this eternal optimist was covered in darkness, there was a cloud over my head like some cartoon character.
Then I had my first panic attack; trying to explain a panic attack to anyone who hasn't experienced one is difficult, but it is like a wave of fear that rushes through your entire body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. You start to sweat, you feel like you are going to black out and want to run, the only problem is that there is nowhere to run to because the fear is inside. even though they last just a few moments it feels like they last an eternity."
I also shared the story of my recovery;
"My particular issue was diagnosed as clinical depression, which included symptoms like panic attacks, agoraphobia and anxiety. I had been diagnosed medication which I did not find helpful. I was also offered some counselling which was somewhat more helpful.
One key thing that helped me with my particular issues was to understand that my emotions and feelings were not separate from my body. When you first find yourself in the middle of a sickness like this it can feel for some like your emotions and feelings have a mind of their own (no pun intended) and I had to view myself as both a body and a mind, not separate entities - I took a holistic approach to my well being (I'm using the word in it's real sense not in some pseudo-spiritual way.)"
As I say, there are many things I could have written about this week yet I felt the reminder of someone I love struggling with these things was a nudge to bring this subject to the fore again.
This week's article is not as long or controversial as some of my others, but if it helps offer a lifeline to one of those reading then it's been my most important post this year.
Stay strong and be kind to yourself.