I am going to start my story with a confession. I really, really don’t like the word ‘stigma’, I don’t even like to use it as ‘ignorance’ fits much better. I’ll never attack anyone for using the s-word because we all tend to be ignorant to things until we experience them ourselves. I was ignorant of mental health issues for years, especially when I was suffering badly from it. The only time my ignorance lifted was when I started to get help.
Back in January 2013 I was medically diagnosed as having depression. Confirming something I had believed for years but had never been brave enough to actually seek help for it. Consequentially from receiving professional help I uncovered that I suffer from episodes anxiety and paranoia. All these things are connected for me. Where did they come from? I’ve given up trying to work that one out as I doubt it will benefit me or anyone else.
My depression was definitely the biggest of my mental health issues as it has been with me for around 25 years. Frankly by now, I’d have thought it would have had enough of me and left me but it seems that is not the case. Fortunately through the help of an excellent NHS doctor here in Scotland who understood my issues, gave me time to talk and subscribed me medication that would allow me to have a second chance with life. My doctor was very good at not just giving me the medical advice but also about being more active and social with ideas to get out there and meet people as I had built up quite an unhealthy online world for myself. The best thing my doctor did other than talking with me on a sympathetic and realistic level during that initial appointment was to put the wheels in motion for me to be included on a CBT-themed course. Unfortunately for me the actual CBT course had an 18-month waiting list unless I went private and paid for it myself with money I didn’t have.
I have always had a big problem with people who complain about things but never do anything to better the situation. From a young age I just remember viewing it as such a waste of energy and it just made the person miserable and I didn’t want to be around them. I wasn’t going to be that guy. I’ve never really complained about suffering from depression apart from to myself internally. I grabbed all the help that was on offer. I wanted to get better and if I couldn’t get better then I wanted to cope and understand it all. Sure, I had my doubts and part of that was the illness talking but I took every step that was asked of me and more importantly, after I took plenty more steps. Yes, it was hard work but it was a lifetime’s thinking being reprogrammed. I’m still on that journey today and now I only look back to see how far I’ve come.
Today as I tell you this story I am not fully recovered. My anxiety is very much under control, my paranoia is almost non-existent and I can proudly say that I have many more good days than bad with my depression. How has all this happened? Well throughout 2013 I was working full-time so it would impact how much time I could permit to my own mental health and welfare. In January 2014 I was made redundant and since it was only a few weeks after my lowest ebb a year previously I decided I needed to do something to make sure I didn’t relapse. The last thing I wanted to do was let all my good work go undone by something that wasn’t under my control. Those who know me well will confirm I can be a stubborn little so’n’so when I want to be. I get an idea in my head and I’m a bit like a dog with a bone.
I just needed an idea, something to keep me busy but also healthy and free, since I was now out of work. In 2012 I had deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts in an attempt to get me out of my rut. It obviously didn’t work as I was too far down the road to Depressionville by that time and I needed help. I wasn’t waving but drowning! I always missed Twitter but not Facebook, but I knew going back would be dangerous for my mind. I needed a reason, a purpose for being there and then it struck me to do what I had been doing off and on my entire life – think positive. The wheels began to turn and after looking at what I will respectfully say were some downright depressing blogs my mind was made up. I was going to tackle my mental health problems on the internet, the forum that had to some extent been a major player in my downfall. More importantly though I was going to blog about my experiences and my belief in being positive. Sure, it was a gamble, I knew it wasn’t going to be for every one and I had no idea if it would be me blogging to me or if anyone would actually bother to read it. The power of a positive mind quickly eradicated those concerns and away I went, trying to spread positivity wherever and whenever I could. Every blog was and still is designed to entertain and get the reader thinking. On average they weigh-in around the 500 words mark which makes them easy to read daily or a dose of them once a week.
I truly believe that the only way to help others understand is to educate them. I wonder if I had more knowledge on keeping a healthy mind if I would have faced the problems I have but without such negatives I wouldn’t have the appreciation I have today for my own well-being and those who suffer mental health conditions. I now have people who visit my blog that don’t even have mental health problems because living with positive thinking benefits everyone. Sure, it’s hard work to begin with and you need to have an open-mind but like anything in life like that, it’s worth it and it gets easier the more you do it. My mental health issues don’t define me, my positive thinking does.
BIO: Jason lives near Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. He has been a potato bagger to a radio presenter to technical support advisor to an office and individual trainer to a sales person. He has (what he considers to be) a healthy obsession with all things tangerine and could lose all his days watching monkeys being monkeys. He likes cheese and doesn’t like losing at FIFA. He once brought an alcoholic back from losing everything and potentially saved his neighbour’s life when when she accidentally cut an artery. He grew up watching The A-Team so loves it when a plan comes together.