It’s been hard to find the help I needed to cope with this dangerous monster of an illness I live with.
It’s taken years … decades … to find the right combination of professional help, medication and other resources.
Finally, it seems to be paying off. Although it is still a roller coaster, it is gradually leveling out. It’s not easy. A healthy person might think that now that I have an effective treatment, it would be easy to put this behind me and get on with life. That might be true if I had been healthy once, gotten sick and now I’m getting healthy again. Maybe, I should know how to be healthy and be able to pick up where I left off. But, in my case, I never was healthy. My depression started at a very early age and my life has revolved almost entirely around coping with it with little left over for anything else. So, I have to learn how to be a healthy, functional person, essentially from scratch at 55 years of age. It reminds me of accounts I have read of blind people receiving their sight later in life. It is a complete life transformation.
But, the ‘mood positive’ state on my new medication is really wonderful. And it gets gradually better and better and I am gradually gaining more confidence that it is real and that this is going to last.
The ‘mood negative’ state is still very difficult.
The two states are so very different in so many large and small ways.
Out of this comes what I think is a chance to carefully observe the difference and document it and share my experience.
I’ve been struggling though to understand why I feel such a passion for writing about my experience. It’s very difficult. It requires being painfully frank and open. I get positive feedback which is essential to being able to have the strength to do this but I know that, this being the Internet, I’m going to get negative feedback too.
Then i saw this article on Upworthy and which draws from Stephen Fry’s brilliant documentary about living with Bipolar Disorder, ‘Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive’ which I saw a couple of years ago. You can find it on Youtube here and you might be surprised at some of the people who he talks to about their own experience.
What really struck me though was this statement at the top of the article:
Every fearless ambassador for mental health is a lifesaver.
That sentence keeps echoing through my mind. A lifesaver. Is it really that important? I believe it is.
I have often said: Depression is as serious as cancer. When I was visiting my older sister in the US recently she reminded me that I had told her that almost 30 years ago. She said that that was what convinced her to seek help and she told me that it saved her life.
It’s really true that helping people with mental health issues can make a difference between life and death.
I put those things together and realized that this is why I do this.
So, Here’s what I want for Jon’s Hideaway:
- For it to be a place to go to hear about my experienceand see that it’s possible to survive, cope with, manage, overcome and live a full life with a mental health problem. While this is still very much a work in progress for me, I have periods now of real happiness and well-being. I’m learning to cultivate those periods and expand them. And they help me to cope with the other times when things are not so positive.
- To provide a collection of curated resources to help those with mental health issues. It’s hard to navigate through the endless supply of available articles, blogs and websites to find quality information, especially in a format that is easy to understand when you mind is not working normally. In my view, people with mental health issues need concise information with substance to keep them moving and improving when it is difficult. This will include educational and reference material, sources of inspiration, biographical material about people who have coped successfully and resources about new or upcoming treatment options.
- To provide a collection of practical tools for every day use. Resources, inspiration and stories are helpful but you also need tools you can hold in your hands, literally or figuratively. I have had to be proactive, creative and inventive to come up with ways to live with this thing. I’ll share those plus anything else I find that others have used.
Those are the basics.
I’m not a crusader or a rescuer.
Just someone with some knowledge and experience that I hope might be helpful. And I just hope that it will be useful to someone and make a difference.