This blog was born back in 2013 after a 5 week stint in the psychiatric unit in Galway for a particularly difficult bout of depression. It documents everything that I’ve done since then to try and get a handle on my mental health, moving from an earnest belief that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain, to a realisation that there is no solid evidence to support that theory whatsoever. The difficulties I have been experiencing, and to an extent, continue to experience, are nothing more sinister than emotional reactions to events in my past, and what happens in my day to day life. I’m not broken, I’m not sick, and I never was – I’m human, just like everyone else.
This learning hasn’t come easy. It’s taken years of therapy, years of traditional treatment (read psychiatry and medication), and finally, release from all of the labels as I was given the knowledge to really understand what was happening, alongside the skills to manage my emotions and reactions. I no longer take psychiatric drugs. I no longer believe myself to have a personality disorder. I recognise that of course I will experience a range of emotions and reactions to whatever life throws at me, but that doesn’t mean there’s a problem. Emotions arise in reaction to situations. They pass. Everything is transient.
I’m learning about compassion, in the true sense of the word, and how to apply it to myself as well as others. It’s not all light and fluffy, letting myself off the hook, treating myself – sometimes it means doing things that are really, really hard, because ultimately, they will lead to something better. Compassion can be defined as recognising distress and suffering in both the self and others, alongside a commitment to taking action to alleviate that distress. It’s not about short term relief from pain, but rather, long term release from it.
It’s been an interesting journey, and I hope that it may give some readers clarity around difficulties they may be experiencing themselves. There are days when I would happily believe that I need medication, that a drug will fix everything for me. But then I remember – all the drug will ever do is mask the emotion, and so block me from really learning from it. These days, challenging and all as it is, I feel everything, good, bad and indifferent. The good is wonderful, the bad often torturous, but they all teach me something. All I have to do is make the time to listen.