Twitter @AshleyFulwood ashley@ocduk.org

Recognising your struggles can be life-saving

Earlier this week I read a report finding summary that men aged 40-54 have the highest suicide rates in the UK, and whilst I knew the statistic about men, I had not realised the age bracket and suddenly I had a realisation, one I am not sure I welcomed.

This is not just another mental health awareness week post, this is something of a personal reflection… for me, more than anybody reading.

In recent weeks I have had more and more thoughts about wishing I could end it all, and wanting to close myself off from the world or run away.  Before any of my friends start worrying, this is not a cry for help or an indication I am about to attempt to take my own life.  But I am struggling, and beyond writing this blog I am not sure I even want to talk about it yet.

In my case, there is no one trigger for me feeling like this, it’s a myriad of things all coming together at one time I guess.  I have not really had a break in over two years (Easter 2019 my last time off work), the charity growth in the last year as meant I am working all hours just to stay afloat and that’s not good for anyone.  It’s made me lethargic most of the time,  I am tired, I am snappy and the more I feel or act that way the worse it makes me feel, so it becomes something of a vicious cycle.

Other contributing factors include recent acknowledgment that my life’s not what I wanted, and my age is making it harder to achieve that, that’s playing on my mind too.

When I add the fact my OCD as got worse in recent weeks (well last 12 months) I am beating myself up every time I fall, needing to be this beacon of hope and recovery for everyone.  Now don’t get me wrong, the gains I made previously are still gains, they’ve not slipped.  But the one area of OCD that I failed to address as got significantly worse in recent months to the point when I am triggered I am stuck doing rituals for 2-3 hours, using 2-3 bottles of bleach and Dettol surface cleaner. Thankfully those blips are rare once a month, sometimes every couple of months, but in the last week the triggers happened twice.

All of that as led me to feeling tired, just so, so tired of life.

This week I have woken up after a good nights sleep, but despite that I have still felt on the edge for no real reason, I have felt on the urge of crying both days (and geez, for my generation this is not an easy thing to admit). I didn’t, but I felt that way all day both days this week.

So, the research statistic was bit of a wake-up call for me, and I spent last night with the realisation that I am so lucky to have realised what’s happening and managed (or I will) get myself off the path that may have led to darker days. I need to take care of my mental health. Acknowledging the problem being the first step I guess.  All of these factors combined could well be what’s making me feel this way, and it’s not something I have experienced before.

I can not deny I have and are having an increasing number of wishing I could end it all thoughts, but that’s all they are thoughts, no desire or intent to act on those thoughts. But the research as made me realise that I need to look after myself better, and address some of the problems.

I do have my first holiday for some time booked for July. A few days in Cornwall (I couldn’t afford a full week at this years prices, or find anywhere affordable with a full weeks availability). I was thinking of cancelling because a) it’s not my beloved Majorca and b) I am saving for a mortgage. But I realise I need to go, and I will go.

I guess what I want to summarise is that sometimes no one trigger could lead someone down a dark path, it could be a combination of life factors and a sense of hopelessness for a brighter future.  Sometimes, even the strongest of people can be suffering inside and as we have seen with the sad passing of well known sportsmen or celebs, we don’t know how someone is truly feeling beyond their public persona.

I will survive, I always do. A random act of kindness from a friend last night reminded me that if I need to reach out for a guiding helping hand, that I have good friends ready to give me both of their hands if I need them.

Wishing us all, good mental health.

Ashley 🙂

Note: * The report is due to be published tomorrow by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH). I will post edit this part to add the paper link once published.

Post Edit: A final thought on Mental Health Awareness Weeks. During the last couple of years I have seen increased social media criticism of such weeks. Some of that criticism is valid, but much of it fails to acknowledge the point that anything that gets people talking about their mental health problems on a large scale like MHAW, either online or to a friend or on blogs like this that nobody will read, well that can be enough of a cathartic experience that helps keep some people, like me, afloat.

2 Comments on “Recognising your struggles can be life-saving

  1. I just wanted to provide an update and say that this last week’s been better. I truly believing writing this blog post helped me get some things out and realisations that I was perhaps not admitting to myself until I started putting pen to paper (virtually).

    I won’t say I am all singing and dancing happy (yet – I will be), but the dark clouds have lifted and perhaps have been replaced with broken light grey clouds intermixed with clear blue sky, hopefully the sun will shine through again very soon.

    That’s not to say I don’t have work to do despite my general feeling of well-being improving, I do know I have work to do, and I will.

    But I would just like to say, this last week’s been helped by the kindness of people reaching out to me, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words and thoughtfulness towards me.