Day 31 of my 40 day blog challenge. Lisa kindly shares her story of how she became convinced she was terminally ill…thank you Lisa.
A few years ago I was selling my house and preparing to go abroad for a year to volunteer, so I was contacting various organisations to set up work. During this time I started having some issues with my periods which I ignored for a while thinking that it would sort itself out, but then something happened…I was getting a lot of knock backs regarding volunteer positions and not many offers on the house. As time went on and the difficulties increased, I came to an obvious conclusion. The reason I was selling my house but no jobs were coming up was simple, I wasn’t going to be here the following year, and I was getting my affairs in order to save the stress for my family when I was gone. Extreme thought – maybe?
However, my logical brain was figuring something out. It couldn’t possibly just be dark thoughts, as I was a positive person. Even when my mum died, I didn’t suffer depression and I didn’t need counselling. I’m an emotional person but I’m a survivor, and having a thought that I was going to die wasn’t something I’d experienced before, so of course, it had to be true, it made sense. My mum died of cancer, as have many other family members and now, I had an abnormal monthly cycle, so of course, I must be sick too.
A strange darkness began to surround me which to this day I cannot truly describe. I eventually got around to seeing the doctor who referred me for tests but in my head, things still seemed clear, I wasn’t going to make it. As an open person who shares with close friends, I still hadn’t told anyone what was going on and as I struggled through, I still felt the darkness around me.
I then had a dream. I was standing in front of my church congregation and I was sharing my story. I wanted to raise awareness about mental health. I was asking people that if they had been struggling with depression, dark thoughts, anxiety etc that they should talk to someone, reach out, ask for help. It was a strange experience and no pun intended, a bit of a wake-up call to say: hold on, this isn’t right? I sent a text to a close friend to say that things were difficult and could she pray for me. I didn’t get into all the details at that point, but I did make that first step.
As for the medical situation, there was an issue, but thankfully only a non serious fibroid and the side effects could be managed with medication, and have been ever since. The feelings too, slowly subsided as I grappled with the negativity in my head. It was incredibly difficult and emotional to share face-to-face with that initial friend and one other, but I knew it was important to do so. We didn’t dwell on it and I knew it was something I was going to get through, but just sharing what I had been thinking and feeling with 2 people who loved me and cared for me, helped me to realise what a weight had been lifted, and that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
Mental health is a strange and complicated thing. It can be something that lasts a few weeks or for many years. It can manifest in such different ways: fear; claustrophobia, agoraphobia, anxiety, alopecia, nightmares, depression… the list goes on. For me, it was a short lived practical, logical and non-emotional thought that because X happened that equalled Y.
I don’t really know if this was depression, anxiety or what it was, but all I know is that I felt alone and surrounded by darkness and it is something I never want to experience again. I am so incredibly fortunate that this only lasted a matter of months and I was able to come through it unscathed as I know that for some, getting out of bed every day, month after month, year after year can feel like such an enormous challenge.
I never did live out that dream of standing in front of people to share my story, urging them to reach out and ask for help and not to suffer in silence. So today I am sharing this personal, albeit small journey in my life, in the hope that it may speak to someone who recognises something in themselves and reaches out.