My Mental Health and Me

I’ve written before, albeit very briefly, about my mental health, but looking back I feel ashamed that I haven’t expanded on it further since or gone into greater detail. Especially as it’s such a huge part of my life. In fact, I’ve contemplated deleting all previous posts and starting again – but no matter how poor my previous posts are, they’re still a piece of my puzzle.

My biggest regret is not talking so openly about it with friends and family. I think not talking about Mental Health has a detrimental effect mentally and physically, and this needs to change. Not just for me, but within society.

Last week, my friend Natasha invited me to take park in her ‘Mental Mutha Meets…’ series and it gave me the kick up the backside that I’ve needed for so long. I need to, no, should talk about this: My Mental Health.

So let’s get started.

I have OCD

When I say OCD, it’s not the type of OCD that mean’s you’re especially clean or tidy, or simply like things in certain places (although I really do). It’s the OCD that means I can sometimes wash my hands raw because I don’t think they’re clean enough. It’s worse in the winter as the cold has already dried my hands out so that they’re already cracked and painful. When T is really sick (think D&V) my personal cleaning regime can sometimes double in time and effort. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to pass it on to others. I feel dirty.

I have the kind of OCD where I can spend a good 20 minutes of the morning, before leaving for nursery drop off, checking that all the plugs and oven knobs are switched off. If I’m already stressed about something, or particularly tired or hormonal, my OCD can worsen to a degree that I’ve driven back whilst on the way to work some days just to triple check everything is locked or turned off – even though I would have checked it several times before allowing myself to leave the house!

If I don’t do all these checks, I worry something bad will happen.

Knowing I do this means that when someone says “they’re a little bit OCD” I can’t help but scream and shout “you’re really not”. I would kill to not feel like this every day or not do these things. I feel like a freak.

On top of this, I also suffer from anxiety.

For me, the two go hand in hand, but if one kicks off first, the next is sure to follow. If you have anxiety, you don’t always have OCD, but I don’t know anyone who has OCD that doesn’t have anxiety as well. The two kinda work together to create this cocktail of hell.

I don’t really know what hurts the most. The anxiety or the OCD? I think the anxiety. As much as OCD exhausts me, my anxiety hits me in places and causes issues that I never knew existed. It causes self-doubt, a lack of confidence, and low energy. It’s caused headaches, eye twitching, and nausea on the worst days.

Of course, you can have all these things without suffering from anxiety, and a high majority of people already suffer from a form of anxiety, but there’s a difference between the anxiety that makes you worry or puts you in a fight of flight situation, and the anxiety that makes you pick at your own skin.

You heard me. I pick my own skin when I get overly anxious. I can show you the scars. It started when I was in my early twenties – maybe even earlier – and at first I would think it was a form of self harm, but when I read into it more and spoke to people about it I understood it was something else. It was a separate thing entirely. I didn’t want to cause harm, hurt, or punish myself, but the instant relief I would get from removing a blemish would sometimes be euphoric.

Ironically, I picked less, if at all, when I was pregnant, but since becoming a parent I’ve started doing it every now and again when I’m overly tired and/or stressed – although oddly, not as much as I used to. But on the bad days. Oh the bad days. It can be a struggle not to disappear by myself and have a little pick.

As I write this, I feel sick. I worry how people will react to me now that they know my secrets.

But then I realise I need to talk about this. That this isn’t my problem, it’s society’s. Why is there this stigma against mental health? Why are we not talking about it?

In a world where we can talk about sex and toilet humour so freely, why can we not still talk about our mental health?

With this in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to write more about this topic every now and again. I need to. I want to be open about Mental Health. My Mental Health.

I want people to know that they’re not alone. That it comes in waves and that you can still be happy whilst maintaining crippling mental health. I want people to know that my smiles are always genuine in photos so that when I’m not smiling in some, people are invited to open that door of conversation.

13 thoughts on “My Mental Health and Me

  1. Amber says:

    This is such a a brave post and I love you EVEN MORE for sharing your vulnerabilities! Shadow always throws light into sharp relief, which is exactly how I think of mental health – it just makes me appreciate everything that makes you the wonderful you that you are, even more!

    • Kate Everall says:

      Thank you for your beautiful comment – the shadow into light has really stuck with me. I’m trying really hard to appreciate my little ‘quirks’ as they’re what make me me – although it can be tiring at times – I’m trying to put them to good use, like education and support. Fingers crossed.

  2. Kate says:

    Oh Kate, bless you for being so open and brave. I’ve begun talking about my mental health more but do worry people just don’t ‘get’ it. But a lot of us doing, and as long as it’s cathartic for you, please do carry on. You’re not alone x

    • Kate Everall says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time read. I think we’re a long way from people ‘getting it’ – especially as it’s often portrayed so badly in the media, but if we all take small steps – like you seem to be – we’ll start moving forward. Thank you, again. xx

  3. Caitlin says:

    Just want to thank you for sharing your experience and perspective! Some of my favorite bloggers (and some of my favorite people in real life!) are people who candidly speak about their own personal struggles, including mental health or addiction, in a non-judgmental way. I’m glad you’re adding your voice and I personally think MORE of you, not LESS@

    • Kate Everall says:

      Thank you so much. I’m going to start talking about it more, whilst also educating myself about other mental health issues and how I can help.It can only lead to good. Honesty and openness is the way forward.

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing. I suffer terribly with aniexty – to the point of going to A & E 4 times in the space of two weeks. I think sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one really helps. Again thank you for such an honest accountZ

    • Kate Everall says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your story. I cannot agree more with you. One of the biggest steps is talking about it, but it’s so reassuring, like a weight off your shoulders, when you realise you’re not alone.

  5. Sarah says:

    Beautifully written, Kate. Thank you for being so open. I pick and scratch too- it goes hand in hand with my anxiety. The more people talk, the more people will understand and accept that mental health is not really that separate from physical health.

    • Kate Everall says:

      Absolutely. It takes only one to start the conversation and I’m so so glad I did. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone. Thank you for reading. x

  6. Lucy Howard says:

    Dear Kate. Thank you so much for writing this post. I know how hard it is to open up and appear vulnerable. But you will have helped so many people by writing this. You are beautiful and brave. And an amazing person – more so because you are human. And truly beautiful humans have seen the darkness as well as the light. Sending love Lucy xxxx

    • Kate Everall says:

      Thank you so much, Lucy. That’s so kind. It took me a while, but reading all the feedback and messages has encouraged me to talk about it more. If anything, it’s helped me get a few things off my chest that have restricted me in the past. I hope by opening up the conversation it’ll help others talk about it and learn. Thank you for reading. xx

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