Today I want to devote my blog to mental health issues.
When I was 10 years old I witnessed my mum, my protector and the woman who gave birth to me have a breakdown.
It’s weird what things you remember when stuff like that happens. I remember it was Christmas and it was snowing. My paternal grandmother came to stay and cook Christmas dinner.
I remember my mother not being able to leave the room to go to the bathroom without my dad because she was suffering so terribly from panic attacks.
My mother’s breakdown came as a result of acute withdrawal from Valium (Diazepam) – mother’s little helper that the Rolling Stones reference in their song of the same name. These were prescribed to her 8 years previous when I was nearly killed in an accident. And our family GP at the time decided to withdraw her meds.
Nowadays any withdrawal would be supervised and managed, but unfortunately for my mother that wasn’t the case, and that Christmas she was going Cold Turkey.
Fast forward 6 years and out of the clear blue sky and the dinner table one Sunday I had my first panic attack. There I was eating roast beef and this awful feeling came over me. I was a 15 year old teenager at the time and I had no idea what was happening to me. Eventually I was diagnosed, but panic attacks have blighted me all of my adult life.
My youngest daughter also suffers with the “mind wanders” as she calls them.
So today I was listening to Greg James from BBC Radio 1 on his Sport Relief Peddle to the Peaks challenge for Sports Relief. He’s completing an incredible challenge involving climbing the highest peaks in the UK in aid of mental health charities; a cause that is close to my heart naturally.
It was a goodwill message that someone sent in that really caught me of guard. This person was honest and said that he had suicidal thoughts and struggled with mental health recently. But that Greg had inspired them to contact their GP to talk through their feelings and joined an online forum for the same thing. All this because of what Greg was doing!
This story brought me to tears, just to think that someone cycling and climbing for charity can actually make a potentially positive difference to another’s life! For this reason alone I always like to do something as simple as smiling at a stranger, because you never know what’s going on behind someone’s eyes. And that smile could make all the difference!
Nowadays we are encouraged to talk about our feelings and it’s becoming more and more acceptable to discuss mental health. Back in the day my mum wasn’t that lucky; it was something that people talked about behind their hands.
As a result of my mum’s breakdown I missed out on significant mum and daughter activities. I am an only child so my dad stepped in and did all the things with me – as much as he could. I am very conscious that as a mum myself I do lots with my daughters AND since her recovery my mum and I do now do tons of things together!
If you are suffering in silence and you need someone to talk to there are lots of organisations that can help you – RIGHT NOW IF NEEDS BE;