How many of us can identify with this quotation? I know that I certainly can!
I am now in my late 60’s and have been dogged by anxiety and depression most of my adult life and many times I have asked myself the question ‘why me?’ as I’ve struggled with anxiety symptoms – which can be crippling – and lack of self- esteem.
I am glad to be able to say that I have been able to find a way out of my mental hell and would like to encourage others that recovery is possible however deep seated the illness may be.
What set me off in the first place?
In my case I was fine until my early 20’s but experienced my first anxiety attack in response to dealing with problems in my marriage. I married a local lad when I was 23 and I moved away to work in a London Borough as a careers officer with the Local Education Authority. Sadly, my husband developed severe mental health problems after a year of marriage, and everything began to unravel for me from then on!! We eventually divorced and I remarried but my second marriage wasn’t a success and my unhappiness served to accentuate my mental health problems. These became so severe that I spent a time in the Psychiatric unit of Clatterbridge Hospital and years of sessions with both psychiatrists and psychologists followed.
So how did I recover from all this?
I think that it has been a combination of factors:-
- Practical help and support from health professionals ( find a GP you can relate to)
- Taking early retirement from work (after 25 years as a careers officer)
- Patience on my part and willingness to ‘try and try again’!
- Exercise and fresh air (I joined a walking club and play tennis)
- Developing a supportive friendship network. (People who accept the real me)
- Meeting my third husband and having a very happy marriage
- Developing my Christian faith and becoming involved with my local church to the extent of training to be a lay minister
Is that it then?
No – not really! I still have the tendency to slide back into negative thinking when the going gets tough!
Sadly, my dear husband died 2½ years ago after 15 very happy years of marriage. Not surprisingly, I suffered a reaction to this, but I have tremendous support from the church, family and friends and I have to say that my religious faith has very largely carried me through. I know that God will send me the support I need and that he loves me just as I am.
What I do now
I try to maintain myself on an even keel by keeping up with activities I enjoy.
I also use my past experiences to help others – helping to run a mental health support group at my church. Above all I have hope that I can recover and stay well.