We’ve now been back in Manchester for almost two weeks trying to sort out our health issues. Within two days of arriving both of us had seen our GP and been put on medication. My main issue has been my back pain and my doc is now trying me on new medication. I have also been trying to manage my anxiety – I have panic disorder which is under control most of the time, but when I am away from the day to day things that fill my mind (work, trade union and political activity) my brain thinks it’s ok now to process everything else. It’s a bizarre and unpleasant thing and can lead to quite significant periods of depression if I don’t recognise what’s going on early enough. I’m struggling a bit at the moment as we are in “stop” mode, but binge watching tv serials helps to fill the unpleasant gaps in my head.
So why am I telling you this? It’s because until now I have been embarrassed and ashamed of this illness and seen it as me being weak. It’s totally contradictory as in other people I don’t view mental health problems like this at all. I believe mental illness to, in the main, be a response to trauma and the impact it can have on neurological function. But I am bolshie, strong and self confident and have somehow felt my panic disorder makes me “less than”.
This post therefore marks a turning point for me. I want to say it is ok not to be ok. And sometimes I am not ok. Various things help. Medication, therapy, spending time with friends and engaging in resistance to a system that causes huge swathes of trauma. My pet animals also help. It helps to be able to be honest about how I’m feeling and to acknowledge things can difficult , even when sitting on a cliff top or walking on a glorious beach.
So from now on, I won’t stop Simon mentioning my mental health in blogs. Be prepared.
Ps. We will be back on the road very soon