I cannot even begin to express what it feels like to be listened to and heard, especially when you are in a very dark place in your mind.
I spent a long long time fighting for people to believe me about my past, or to believe me that anxiety isn’t just a little bit of worrying, depression isn’t just being a bit sad, OCD isn’t just liking thing to be clean and well, Borderline Personality Disorder is often just flipped to the side by even medical professionals as being “untreatable” – and don’t even get me started on how people think it’s a typo when you talk about CPTSD.
Anyway! This post is not about me, this post is about listening, it’s about reaching out and knowing you are not alone.
Someone very special prompted this post today, I shall name no names but to the outside world she’s a beautiful shining star with an incredible talent and a warmth in her soul, but today she needed to be heard and wasn’t getting the correct support in order to not feel alone.
One thing that made me so sad was describing herself as “unfixable” – it didn’t make me sad because she is, it made me sad because at one point a lot of us who suffer from mental health issues genuinely believe that we are just that. Unfixable, a lost cause, a blip in society.
Well I can tell you first hand, you are loved, you are needed and I won’t use the word fixable because you are not broken, but we all have the capacity to be happy again. From someone that once believed they would be better off dead, I can promise you there are better times ahead.
I often have people contacting me for help with their mental health because I speak so readily about it. I never used to, I used to feel shame deep in my soul that I was a wrong ‘un and that I didn’t fit, and when I did speak out I would be told I was “too emotional” or a drama queen / attention seeking.
One of my favourite things to remind people is that attention seeking is not a negative thing. If someone was hungry we would feed them, so why should we be so coy about needing love and care? If we all outright asked for everything we needed and were more transparent with our emotions it would make for a simpler time.
Anyway one big point I wanted to make was to talk about IAPT. A lot of people have never heard of IAPT, it stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.
This is a branch of the NHS that GP’s will sometimes refer you to, but more often than not you can now refer yourself! Most GP’s are not qualified to diagnose further than anxiety and depression and prescribe you some pills – which is why a lot of us feel fobbed off and unheard. Which isn’t really their fault, their speciality is GENERAL practice, not mental health. So in order to be heard sometimes we need to tap into specialist care.
So how do I access or self refer to IAPT you say?
Simple! Google ‘IAPT’ and your local area. i.e. IAPT WORCESTER, or IAPT KINGSTON.
Often these places will not come up as IAPT, but you will see in the top search results a mental health service called something like “Positive Step” or “Think Action” – or some variation of that.
All you need to do is send them an email, or fill out the form on their site to explain your concerns with your mental health and then they will either email you another form or phone you for a telephone assessment (or both!) It’s really simple, and there ARE people out there who do want to help.
There are waiting lists yes, but there are also other courses you can jump on to keep you ticking along such as Recovery College courses – I did a 6 week mindfulness course, and also a coping with stress one! As much as I needed more help, it was better than nothing whilst I waited.
I cannot stress enough how therapy was an integral part in my recovery, however it is not a fix, and if you need more after your first lot that’s okay too! It’s not about fixing you, it’s about learning how to be you again and discovering yourself. Kind of like a school for emotions instead of academia, and really we can never learn enough! There is always something new to cope with or learn how to handle, so why should we feel that one lot of therapy not helping is a failure, keep going until you find ones that work for you!
The courses I did do through IAPT were STEPPS, which you can read about the first 6 sessions here: STEPPS – My experience, sessions 1-6. I also did an ACT course – ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’, but there are so many out there. Single therapies and group.
I personally benefitted so much from group therapy even though I was terrified of it to begin with, you make friends, can get a taster of being sociable again without the pressures after being locked away in your house for so long and you can hear others stories and not feel so alone.
So if today you are feeling alone, please reach out to someone – whether that’s just a friend, a family member, a partner or IAPT/GP’s, you won’t regret it. Making that step towards a happier future seems almost pointless when you are in the deep dark clutches of mental health problems, but it will be worth it. Your future self will thank you.
And if you are someone that is being reached out to, please remember to listen to HEAR not listen to RESPOND. We do not need fixing, we need love, support and encouragement to be able to help ourselves. Please be patient with us, it’s not easy.
Also one last tip is that if you are going to your GP have a look on their website first to see if there is a specific GP who specialises in mental health – sometimes they have GP profiles on their website!
If you need to speak to someone immediately please also don’t hesitate to call one of these UK BASED confidential lines:
SAMARITANS: 020 8394 8300 (24/7)
SANE: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm – 10:30pm every evening)
CALM (Campaign against Living Miserably – for men): 0800 58 58 58 (5pm – midnight every day)
PAPYRUS (under 35’s): 0800 068 41 41 (10am-10pm Monday to Friday, 2pm-10pm Weekends)
I once called the Samaritans when I was crying in a carpark for 4 hours unable to speak or drive and they were amazing, I couldn’t recommend them more. Also it helped that the man had a beautiful Irish accent *inset shrug emoji here*.
And in the words of the wise Jerry Springer “look after yourselves, and each other.”
If you want to ask any more info from me, please just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
You aren’t alone, I promise ❤