Have you ever lost your mind? Your thoughts are not ordered, you have intrusive ideas, concepts and images intruding your thinking. You feel lost, alone, scared. You can't grasp what is going on. You need help. Taking that first step to say "I am not ok, where is my mind" is truly difficult.
I am one in four. I am someone who has had mental illness. I am very very lucky, I have won. For now. But I know my battle is never over, it can come back, any time without warning.
On World Mental Health Day, we are talking about stigma. I find it inconceivable that there is still a stigma. It's ok to talk about liver failure, heart failure, cancer, but mind failure? Still a taboo, and I find that sad.
Talking about mental health doesn't bother me. I am happy to put my hand up to depression and anxiety problems, including PTSD, but I have felt the stigma. I declared my history on my pregnancy notes, and felt the stigma, and then the change in attitude amongst some health professionals, using my mental health history as an excuse to what was going on inside my body. "Oh its not pre eclampsia your blood pressure is high due to your anxiety issues"......wrong. Many times I wished I hadn't been honest as it blocked my care rather than facilitated it.
We need to understand mental health much better as a community. We need to support one another and help each other.
Of particular concern to me is those of us who have had traumatic births and/or premature babies. So often our feelings can be written off as "normal", but these high pressure situations can cause deeper problems. "Oh its understandable you are a bit traumatised" yes fair enough, but when you are avoiding sleep just to avoid the nightmares, when the checkout at Tesco with its beeps like an oxygen monitor sends tears streaming down your face, when taking your baby to checkups at the hospital he was once a resident at makes you sick, then its time for help. I would argue it should never be allowed to get that far. Proactive treatment is essential, a stitch in time well and truly saves nine.
Mental health services need to be better targetted, to be easier to access and be quicker. I found the waiting list so long after Joseph was born, that I opted out and went private for my treatment, as it was quicker, and I had the means to do so. I was lucky.
I got help, not only medication and counselling, but support through our Sure Start centre. My support worker took a broken, frightened mummy and turned her into a confident, caring mother who wants to help others in the same boat.
Losing your mind is terrifying, there are no two ways about it. You feel powerless, scared and alone.
Responsive care, caring friends and family, and lots of love and support make all the difference.
It did to me.
So how are you today? Really.