I thought I would make a list of how my mental health problems affect my day-to-day life to give some insight into what it’s like to be a sufferer of such severe mental ill-health. Of course everybody with mental health problems is affected in their own ways and in different severities and so on. I personally suffer from mixed anxiety and depression both of which have been ongoing in a fairly severe although fluctuating capacity for around four years or so now.
1. I have no social life as a result. I very rarely am able to go out anywhere enjoyable and 99% of those times I am with my partner for support.
2. Taking medication for my conditions has side effects. The current side effects I experience from the anti-depressant and benzodiazepine I take are not too bad, thankfully: dry mouth, drowsiness, vivid dreams which can often be strange and sometimes nightmares, occasional night sweats, a lot of headaches and fairly frequent migraines, and a disrupted menstrual cycle. None of this is ideal but better than if I wasn’t taking the medication. It’s also annoying to have to remember taking them, I often forget and that messes me up sometimes. Also having lots of medication leads to stronger urges and possibility of overdosing on them which is dangerous and not ideal.
3. Sleeping problems. If a day is 24 hours I probably on average spend about 14 hours of that asleep. Sometimes it can be more like 18 even. I also find it difficult to fall asleep, and to stay asleep as I wake up frequently so my sleep never refreshes me so I’m permanently tired. Medication can’t fix this in the long-term or I’d end up with tolerance and addiction problems so it’s more something I have to work around and try and improve gradually with the help of my partner and my carer who comes to get me up in the mornings now. Anyway obviously if you’re spending most of your day asleep you lose a lot of time to do anything else!
4. I’m perpetually behind with my university work as my attendance is appalling and my ability to catch up is affected by my health too. Constantly struggling to keep my head just above the parapet.
5. Difficult conversations regarding disclosure. It’s necessary to tell a lot of people, particularly friends, and tutors at uni about my problems to explain some of my behaviours. This is tiring, stressful, uncomfortable, and many people are not supportive and/or understanding at all.
6. Puts strain on relationships. Anxiety in particular can make me quite irritable when I’m stressed and my partner bears the brunt of those micro-agressions unfortunately, though sometimes my family too. Lack of interest in and energy for intimacy too. My relationship with my parents has never been perfect but this does put an extra barrier in the way as well. It is also difficult with friends because I cancel everything at the last minute, don’t return calls, don’t sustain conversations, and they often don’t understand why that is.
7. Lack of fun, leisure activities in general. Difficulties concentrating impact on my ability to anything nice for myself even by myself at home. It is often difficult to sit through an entire 50 minute episode of something on iPlayer or to read a chapter of a book, or to motivate myself to do something I used to enjoy like painting my nails or working out or whatever. Everything just kind of seems pointless and tiring and you do less and less and therefore get more and more miserable, it’s a vicious circle.
8. My organisational skills and memory are both impaired slightly as a result I think.
9. Impacts on my physical health too. I have other conditions that are affected by my mental health such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and eczema which all become worse when my mental health is worse, which then makes my mental health even worse and so on.
10. The endless amounts of appointments you have to go to. Every day it seems I have to meet a new person and make the difficult discussion of talking about my suffering: social workers, therapists, uni tutors, GPs, the list goes on.
11. Carers. My partner is my main carer but at the moment I have a short-term package in place to have a morning carer as well to get me out of bed, washed, and make sure I remember to take my tablet and have something to eat and drink. This is helpful and I owe my partner so much, but it’s not NICE by any definition. A lack of independence can make you feel even more worthless and it puts strain on my partner. It’s not nice having such an unequal relationship in that sense, it’s upsetting.
I could go on and on but hopefully that will be informative for some people.