#mentalhealthmonday – could my mental illness have been prevented?

Today I am very pleased to have Chris Hack on my blog today. He’s going to be talking about his mental health journey.

Trigger warnings: graphic description of suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my mental illness first became a part of my life. The first recollection I have of a specific episode was when I was 23 and it followed a particularly difficult few years for me. I had spent a long time drifting between dead end jobs, education and lengthily unemployment. Something had to give, and that something was my mental health.

If truth be told I had probably been suffering for most of my life with some form of mental illness, all the way back to my days at secondary school where I was subjected to 4 years of unrelenting bullying. Both physical and psychological. I tended not to react much back then and just kind of took everything that was thrown at me. But I think all of the hurt and frustration that I had felt during that time had been lying inside my mind festering throughout. So by the time I had my first recognisable breakdown, it all came pouring out in a torrent of anger, despair and emotion. I had tired of being a victim, of being the sort of person that people always dismissed as not relevant or not worthy of their attention. I was frustrated with my run of dead end jobs, of having no real purpose in life. I was tired of failing. I was tired of living. I just wanted everything that had ever come before to disappear once and for all. I wanted the noise of my past to stop.

I wanted to die.

I distinctly remember picking up a pair of sharp scissors from the desk at work and holding them towards my chest. The blades pointing directly to where my heart was. It would be a bit of a messy way to go of course. But then I was fed up of always fading into the background. I wanted to make a statement that wouldn’t just be swept under the carpet like always.

I closed my eyes, counted down from 10 to 1 and… chickened out.

That was my first attempt at suicide, and one that prompted me to seek some form of medical help.

My first port of call was of course my GP. This was back in 2003 so anything relating to mental health was still very much a minor issue that didn’t really get discussed. I can remember sitting in this particular doctor’s room, pouring my heart out, crying and explaining what had happened. During which he didn’t once look up from tapping away at his computer.

When I’d finished he handed me a prescription for Prozac and sent me on my way. No offer of a follow up appointment or counselling, just a box of pills and a flea in my ear.

I’m now at the ripe old age of 38 and still suffer with severe depression and anxiety. So much so that I haven’t been able to work for the past 9 months. I am thankfully on the road to recovery now, albeit slowly. I now have a wonderful GP who has been nothing but supportive with getting my balance of medication right, referring me to my local mental health team and helping to organise various therapies for me. It seems now that mental health is something that is no longer a taboo subject and actually gets taken seriously, providing of course that you have a decent GP on your side.

I know that I am more than likely going to be battling with my mental health issues for the rest of my life. But I wonder, could that have been prevented if the Prozac happy GP I saw all those years ago had taken me seriously?

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2 thoughts on “#mentalhealthmonday – could my mental illness have been prevented?

  1. BiblioNyan says:

    I’ve always wondered the same thing myself, specifically with my PTSD. I have PTSD, at least the larger portion of it, from being physically abused as a child. I’ve always been curious as to whether or not I’d have PTSD, or would have made many of the not-wise decisions that I made, if I wasn’t abused. Or if my parents didn’t fight with one another constantly (another reason for my PTSD; they’d throw things at each other and stuff), would I have a lot of the mental health struggles that I do. I remember my suicidal tendencies began when I was a kid too because I just wanted all of the arguing and fighting to stop.

    I’m glad you have found a supportive GP who is able to help you and support you in the ways that are best for you recovery. That is something that I have yet to find. So many of the GPs that I’ve found/was referred to just gave me medication without actually listening to what I need; a bit of a single solution for all problems type of thing. It’s caused some harsh negative side effects and stuff, so because of that I’m terrified of getting medication, even if it may be something perfectly suited to what I need.

    I’m 30, will be 31 this year, and I also struggle pretty severely with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. While I do ponder how and where certain things, if different, could have prevented my mental health, I try really hard to avoid focusing on those sorts of thoughts because they tend to bring me down, or shove me into a terrible depressive episode that takes forever for me to recover from, but I think it’s a thought that many people with mental health have.

    It can be super challenging, more so on the bad days, but look at how far you’ve come? Even though you have these struggles and things that you must learn to cope/manage, and even though you may have them for the rest of your life, you are kicking ass and helping so many people. From what you shared today, I think that is a HUGE step forward in treatment/recovery. You make such a positive difference and inspire people to do what they must to get help and feel better with their mental health (speaking from experience). You’re going up, and you’re going to keep rising; I feel it in my heart. Sorry, I prattled.

    Liked by 1 person

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