Having suffered from mental health problems and an undiagnosed personality disorder my whole life, I was never able to form connections with other people in the same way others did. Nobody seemed to‘get’ me at all, I felt isolated in others’ company, and the more I tried to form connections, the more others pushed me away. The sense of isolation compounded my illness and distress. I sought solace in my thoughts.
I was first prescribed antidepressants aged 15, then came off them at 18. I managed to ‘get by’ for several years, before I had a crisis which led to me being prescribed mood stabilisers. Living like a barely-animated zombie on the medication led me to think that drugs were not the final answer, just like The Verve told us! I tried my best to direct my mental energy away from the suicidal thoughts and into a solution for my poor mental health that didn’t leave me dependent on substances forever.
I started to write a book about my ideas, and the process completely transformed me. I had been through such deep suffering that I was determined to find value in it, in order that my illness hadn’t been a waste of time and energy and I could help others learn about themselves and what makes them well by sharing what had happened to me.
Initially, I thought I would create a “one size fits all”solution about mental health, but as time passed (it’s three years since I started writing), I have learned that everyone is unique, so while we can support each other by empathising and sharing techniques that work, there areas many paths in happiness as there are ways to be human: nearly 8 billion. We are not carbon copies of each other and it is only by celebrating our differences, uniqueness and gifts that we can move past the “cookie cutter”approach to mental health that medicine advises. We need to acknowledge the problem, but then shift into solution and giving mentality.
I think that’s why My Black Dog is so special. We all recognise that the best empathy and compassion comes from someone who has actually been there. And it’s empathy and compassion that heals, not drugs, or even therapy. As we connect, we find togetherness.
When “I” becomes “we”, “illness” becomes “wellness”
Through writing, researching, practising, creating,inventing and connecting, I have slowly managed to say goodbye to medication, and the sick image of myself in my head that was cutting me off from other people and making me ill. I feel like I have shed a skin of the bitterness I used to carry around with me and am slowly learning to embrace a life filled with fulfillment. My book will be published early next year.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Have faith in yourself and your own judgement because nobody knows you better than you do.