My mental health, and occasional lackthereof, is something that affects far more than just myself. I’m married, have two kids, work half time, and also have borderline personality disorder and clinical depression, so there’s a lot to manage. For a long time I didn’t manage, particularly in the time before I was diagnosed with either of the above. There was a lot of fire fighting, and I had to regularly call for reinforcements for help with the kids, or take time out of work. At my worst, back in 2013, I spent 5 weeks in a psychiatric unit, followed by 4 months on sick leave.
Thankfully, since then I’ve received a formal diagnosis, so have been able to work in a much more focused way towards getting things under control. I don’t like to think I’ve recovered in so far as these illnesses are no longer an issue, but rather I’m starting to get a much better handle on how to manage symptoms as they arise. It hasn’t been easy, and even still, some days are much harder than others. I see a therapist on a regular basis, and attend a psychiatrist every couple of months. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve struck upon a combination of medication that seems to be working well for me, and will continue to take that for the foreseeable future.
As well as professional support, there are also a lot of things I need to do for myself in order to stay well. These are things we all know about, but often struggle to put into practice, and I’m no different. I need to make sure I get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, make time for friends, for family, time to be alone, work… it’s a lot to balance, and it doesn’t take much to tip it in the wrong direction.
Something else that’s absolutely crucial is honesty and communication. I don’t like to admit when I’m not feeling well, because it causes a lot of stress for those around me, both at home and in work. But the thing is, even if I don’t say anything, those who know me well are generally aware there’s a problem anyway. Much and all as I’d prefer not to, I have to let people know what’s going on, both so they can help, and also so they can understand why I’m behaving in a particular way. At home, it might mean I need more time alone to try and keep myself calm, while at work, it tends to mean I need more regular communication with my manager to make sure I’m keeping on top of things.
Living with a mental illness (or two!) isn’t easy, but then again, living with anything that impacts on our health is a challenge. I’ve learned a lot this last few years, both about depression and bpd, and also about how to manage them. I suspect I’ve a lot yet to learn, but in the meantime, what I know now means that they no longer control me, and while I’ll still have bad days, or bad weeks, I also know that it will always, always pass, and the good days always come back.