Thursday, 21 May 2015

I'm a grown up now

I've never felt as grown up as I do now. I've got the job, disposable income, great hair (I'm kidding, I badly need a haircut).

New jobs mean new friends, and I have been so lucky with the fabulous people I've had the pleasure of working alongside over the last year.

But it's not all good news. Growing up is hard.
There are good days and there are bad days. And sometimes you get a whole bad week.
And my first year out of college hasn't always been easy.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Real or Feared

When I recount my time in secondary school these days, I am recounting the early stages of my mental illness.

I recently did an interview with The Irish Farmer's Journal, where they asked me about the start of my depression. The truth is that my mental health story starts when I was 12.

It wasn't until I went through counselling, when I became aware of the signs and the symptoms, that I recognised I had had depression in secondary school. Signs that are so obvious to me now.
It's easy for mental illness in teenager to be dismissed as nothing more than being a 'moody' teenager. But I have had depressive episodes for years. My counselor described my illness as a result of my life circumstances.

As a 1st year, aged 12 coming into my new school I was brave. I was confident and I didn't care what people thought of me. This was my chance - a fresh start.
I'm only a shadow of that young girl now. This ambitious, outgoing girl that I was 11 years ago was short lived.

I still find it hard to use the word 'bullied'. It's not a word that I use lightly. And in true Zoe form, I feel bad about using it in case it upsets other people. If you asked me when I was 14, 16 or 18 whether I was bullied I would have said 'no'. I would have said 'people say and do mean things. Bullying is such a harsh term and a serious issue'.
But bullying, whether real or feared is how I would now describe some of my secondary school experience.
So in my, and my counsellor's perception of my time in school, yes I was bullied.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Knot in my Stomach

I've been having a mid mid-life crisis lately.

That's not me being over dramatic. That's what I've been going through.
Worrying about jobs, where to live, friends, money, the future. Ugh, the future is such a burdening concept. I felt as if I were failing, or always going to fail.

I'd been so caught up in maybes and what ifs that I made myself physically ill.

My anxiety brought on headaches, a loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, pain in my chest. I couldn't concentrate or focus.
You know that knot you get in your stomach when you're anxious before a job interview? Or before you go on stage to give a speech?
I had that knot in my stomach for days on end.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mental Illness Is Real

Lately I've become very aware that there is still a stigma around mental illness. Throw-away comments have opened my eyes to a world that up until recently I liked to think we no longer lived in. A world where people don't understand mental illness.

And I say this in the most basic sense. Mental Illness is almost impossible to understand without a lived experience. I can only imagine the reality of life for people who experience anorexia or schizophrenia. But that doesn't mean you can't be sympathetic and supportive. 

What I mean by 'people who don't understand mental illness', is that there are people who doubt whether mental illness is real. Here's a sample of the quotes I heard:

I always thought depression was just because you had too much time to think.
Monday was meant to be the most depressing day of year. well if we all survived, I guess none of us committed.
And because of the context of these comments and where they took place, I didn't have the courage to speak up and challenge them.