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.