As you may already know, its mental health awareness week next week – which is great. For a whole week people will be talking about “mental health”, “reaching out if you need help” and the like.
Then the world will move on to another awareness week… and in 51 weeks time, the conversation will be had again.
This isn’t about knocking some of the fantastic work that will no doubt occur next week. However when the conversation is nothing more than wordy bravado (a term we coin often), then what was the point? Words without action are meaningless, dangerous even.
Those looking for some light may well find it. Others will be offered false assurances by those who are seeking to utilise those buzz words for their own personal gain; for self promotion.
You see mental ill health, mental ‘unfitness’ requires more than one week of “action”. For those suffering, it is 52 weeks of the year; 24 hours a day; 7 days a week.
It is more than going for a nice walk or run and feeling better.
It is more than trying to get a good night’s sleep and feeling better.
It is more than simply getting over it.
My company focuses on four key pillars – sleep, exercise, nutrition and thought. All working together in unison. Not focusing predominantly on one and hoping for the best.
They are concepts intertwined but when supported can lead to a healthier and happier life. Like dominoes, if one falls – they are all susceptible to tumbling.
Equally, if too much prominence is placed on one, it can lead to further physical and mental fitness complications.
Exercise can become a negative coping mechanism.
Obsession with food can lead to eating disorders.
Consumed in one’s own thoughts can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
Without understanding the impact of the interlocking nature of these pillars, not only can a dangerous narrative be produced but the individual in need will not have those needs met.
I myself am a prime example of this…
The title of this blog is “I shouldn’t be here”… and one day I may share my own individual story in more detail but today is not that day.
Instead, I will focus on one key aspect of that title.
In 2015, after years of having various symptoms which I could not explain, I decided to go to my Doctor. This was and remains a massive step for me as I didn’t and don’t do Doctors. It is a trauma trigger for me.
When I told my partner I was going to make an appointment to see the GP back in 2015, he looked at me like I had two heads and knew that something must be wrong.
Off to the GP I went and explained my symptoms:
Unable to sleep
Pain all over especially in my back and hips
Generally not feeling particularly happy
Hypersensitivity to light and touch
Stress / depression – here are some pills
Take time off of work
Get some rest and do some exercise (contradictory in itself I thought)
Sleep better – here are some sleeping tablets
Now I came away from that 12 minute appointment somewhat questioning things.
A medical professional told me I was depressed – but I didn’t feel depressed. Having suffered actual depression when younger, this didn’t feel the same.
Time off of work – that comes with its own issues with the day job
Get some rest – not quite that simple. And as a restless soul, resting isn’t really what I do best
Do some exercise – I already go to the gym three times a week and the day job keeps me pretty active! What more am I supposed to be doing?!?!
Sleep better – well yes that would be great, but when I am already sleeping for 12 hours a day and not feeling refreshed, how is sleeping more going to help?
I never got the prescriptions issued. That isn’t me saying I disagree with bio-medicine. Not even a little bit.
Its bio-medicine that keeps my partner’s heart going. Its bio-medicine that keeps my Mum healthy.
Its just not something I felt comfortable with for myself – especially when I didn’t agree with the reasons the prescription was issued in the first place.
So I thought I would do some research – and by that I mean a google search for the symptoms I had.
BIG MISTAKE. My foggy head was a brain tumour; by painful body clearly cancer.
Thankfully none of this is true.
After battling with the GP (I wasn’t their favourite patient), I was sent for blood tests which led to a referral to a rheumatologist.
More hospital tests and I got a diagnosis that made sense.
Fibromyalgia – a condition that causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.
“Miss Wyatt, you have Fibromyalgia and based on your tests and how you present, I advice you spend the next 12 months doing the things you wish to do. In a year you will be wheelchair bound. But we can give you medication to help alleviate the pain. We will start steroids today. Any questions?”
No questions were asked of the Rheumatologist.
But I had plenty for myself.
Why me? Why now? What do I want to do within a year that I won’t be able to do after?
I ate healthy (or so I thought). As said, I went to the gym three times a week.
What more was a supposed to do.
A couple of weeks later, I had to pass a physical test for work – I remember having extreme anxiety leading up to it and one the day. I was physically sick, hyperventilating. I shouldn’t be able to this….
But I did.
I passed that test – as I had always done previously.
So wait… what else can I do despite being told I shouldn’t be able to…?
A lot of soul searching, research, up and downs and highs and lows later…
I am the physically and mentally strongest person I have ever been.
I am not in a wheelchair
I sleep and wake up feeling like I have slept
The fibro fog is few and far between
The chronic pain is gone
My weight lifting skills are pretty impressive
I run (I don’t like running particularly but I know the benefits and I know I can!)
I take no bio-medicine
I qualified as a Homeopath to help my (and now other’s) body heal – physically and mentally
Four key pillars – sleep, exercise, nutrition and thought
By working on these, I recovered. It took time. It didn’t take a week. It took action, not words. The words I was told were not true.
Is every day perfect – nope. Not at all. But what is perfection anyway?!?
But I shouldn’t be here… not where I am now.
So I am taking my experiences and launching a new forum specifically for other Fibromyalgia sufferers and clients. Somewhere where you can talk with other people with similar experiences where you can get some peer support for what you are going through – as during the years leading up to my diagnosis and even then, I was left feeling very alone.
My experience is just one of several reasons Breathe Centric Ltd was born.
Knowing the value of sharing personal experience in a safe place.
Knowing the value of peer support.
Knowing our methods work.
Cutting through the wordy bravado into actions - 365 days, 24/7.
Taking the “you cant” and turning it into an “I can”.
Staring the “I shouldn’t be here” days in the face and saying “go to hell”.