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My Battle With Mental Health Part 2

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has commented or messaged me their kind words of support. I got some messages from people I never would have expected so it just goes to show how much people can care. Well let’s continue…

When you hit rock bottom the only way to go is up…

That was the mentality I had when I walked into my first Jigsaw appointment.

My brother had convinced me to give it a try and had arranged an appointment for me. I stood at the bus station across the road and looked at the green decorations on the glass building in front of me. I had seen this building a million times, told everyone how great a service it was for young people, but the idea of walking through those doors myself terrified me. I had planned everything I was going to say carefully, gone through every question I thought they would ask. In my head it was a test that was going to label me as “crazy” or “sick” or worse, stupid for feeling the way I did.

I worked up the courage to knock on the door and go inside (mainly because I’m obsessed with being on time). The room was bright, modern and colourful, pretty much everything you would expect a young adult to like. Everyone was friendly and spoke in that gentle voice you hear when people think even a loud noise could make you fall apart. I was introduced to the counsellor who brought me into a small room with warm lighting. I was nervous, I discovered a few sessions in that I fidget with my hands when I’m nervous and I remember doing this a lot the first day. She explained what Jigsaw did and how it worked, let me fill out some forms and did a few short tests to see where my mood was. I thought I was doing well, the paperwork was a good distraction and my nerves went down slightly. However, as I went through one of the tests I realised just how low my mood was. I never expected that my depression had gotten this bad. Up until now I had been focused on my anxiety since the panic attacks were now so frequent. The counsellor and I talked, she was very good at teasing out information I didn’t even know had been weighing me down. The session felt like it was over in a matter of minutes though I had been in there for an hour. She said Jigsaw could definitely offer me help if I wanted it and put me on the waiting list for regular sessions. She apologised saying they had about a four week waiting list but that I could call any time.

I was scared that another waiting list was involved. I didn’t know how long I could last without doing something to address everything that was going on. Jigsaw didn’t forget me though. Every Wednesday around 11am I would get a call from the counsellor to check in and make sure I was ok. She would ask about my mood and my attacks and make sure I was managing them ok while I waited. She had also sent my test results to my GP (she had asked my permission first) and low and behold my GP didn’t forget me either. I had an appointment with her a few days later. She had even personally called my GP to discuss my results and to see what she thought was the best course of action. I truly felt like they had genuine concern for my well being which made me finally start listening to, and valuing what they had to say. When I met with my GP again I made the very hard decision of going on medication. She saw how nervous I was about it. I told her how much I was afraid it would change who I was or numb me completely. She told me the science of how the medication she had chosen worked, how it would help me keep the hormone dopamine (the one that causes you to feel happy) around for longer. She explained the side affects that might happen as my body got used to it, and that it was a low dose for now that would be upped when my body became accustomed to it. Most importantly though she assured me that it didn’t have to be forever.

When I got home I read the pamphlet that came with the medication over and over again. I cried that it had come to this. If I was taking medicine I must be sick right? There must be something wrong with me. I told myself that this was my depression talking, not me. I took the tablet and the world didn’t end, the sky didn’t fall and I didn’t instantly turn into a robot. I kept taking them though in the beginning I did get bad headaches. I persevered, I continued to have my phone calls once a week, the headaches went away and after about three weeks I noticed the difference. I wasn’t numb, I hadn’t changed, it is hard to explain but it felt like I was seeing clearly for the first time. It was like I could properly process all of the emotions that had been making me feel overwhelmed. I still felt sad and alone a lot but those feelings weren’t ruling my life as much, I didn’t spend most of my days feeling like I was drowning anymore. My panic attacks were still there but they wouldn’t last as long and were coming maybe once every two or three days. I started to feel a bit of hope for myself.

Around the time my medication started to kick in I got a call from Jigsaw. The voice I heard wasn’t my regular counselor’s voice though, it was a cheery man’s voice that was on the other end of the phone. He told me he had a spot for regular sessions if I was happy to have him instead of the first counsellor I had met. If I’m honest I was a little reluctant to go with a male counsellor. I found it hard to open up to men since all of the men in my life had let me down at one stage or another. I thought I should at least give it a try though and agreed to see him in two weeks time. Since I don’t want to reveal his identity I will refer to him from now on as Beethoven (inside joke).

I didn’t really know what to expect from the man with the cheery voice. I nervously walked up to the Jigsaw doors yet again and rang the bell. He was in with another person so a nice, once again soft spoken lady sat me down in the waiting area until he was ready for me. Beethoven came out with a young guy and his family laughing and joking. There was no quiet, walking on eggshell voice with him. He was a ball of friendliness and cheer that you couldn’t help but smile with. He was a lot less cautious around me then everyone else was, (including my family) and I never felt like he was pitying me. He brought me into the same room that I had been in my first day. Talking to Beethoven felt more like talking to a friend or an Uncle you really get along with. I did the tests again knowing my scores hadn’t gotten better. I was nervous handing them back, afraid of a concerned or uncomfortable look coming back from him. I got the complete opposite. He nodded once he had added up the score and smiled at me. I don’t remember his exact words but it was something along the lines of ‘well I wont lie, it isn’t a great score but I’ve seen worse‘. He laughed and the tension was gone. I couldn’t help but laugh with him. Looking back, I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had said no to Beethoven’s call.

This is getting a bit long so I’m going to stop here. Looks like I will have to make a Part 3. Again, I hope this helps anyone reading whether they are suffering from a mental illness themselves or they have someone close to them who is going through it. 

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend!

-Vifa

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