Blogger/Founder of "RuthInRevolt"
After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety then receiving treatment, Ruth wanted to turn her situation into something constructive. Consequently, her blog, Ruth In Revolt, was created. With a lifelong passion for writing and a renewed sense of determination, she took a step out of her comfort zone and began putting all her efforts into creating a positive space online. She shares her best blogging tips as she learns along the way, writes about her experiences and discusses all the things she is passionate about – from mental health to stationery. She lives in Aberdeen with her boyfriend, her cat and her never-ending notebook collection.
Today I present you with a guest post from the one and only, Ruth of RuthinRevolt. Ruth and I are mutuals on Twitter and after reading her post “A letter to my brain” I was interested to learn more about her story. In this post, Ruth reveals the journey she’s taken towards finding out what is a symptom of her mental illness and what is a personality characteristic. This can be very hard to differ in the early stages of treatment so I commend Ruth on her vulnerability and courage for sharing her journey with us today. Take a look at the post below and remember to follow Ruth on her social networks! She has so much knowledge to share and I can’t wait to watch her go through this journey.
One of the things I came to realise following my diagnosis of anxiety and depression is that things which I thought were personality traits are, in fact, symptoms. I had been living with them for such a long time and had tried to accept they were part of who I am. Yet, following counselling and medication, some of them have begun to fade away.
The biggest difference is in how much I worry. I used to worry all the time – about everything and anything. I would worry about things which didn’t involve me and worry on other people’s behalf. It would keep me up at night and managed to sneak into most situations. I assumed I was an overly cautious person, who was consistently on high alert.
However, after taking medication, I started to calm down. I’d still worry occasionally (usually in more rational cases) but, overall, I felt it slipping away. Could it be my uncontrollable worrying was part of anxiety? It would seem so.
To give a specific example, I used to be reluctant to order food in restaurants in case I said it wrong, or in case something happened which I wasn’t prepared for. What if they didn’t have what I wanted? What if they asked me something I didn’t understand? Maybe they’ll judge the way I talk? The whole notion of a simple exchange sent me into a panic.
Since getting the help I needed, I’ve been able to do this much more comfortably now. I no longer have to tell my boyfriend he needs to place the order because I can’t. It’s nice, because I felt a bit silly not being able to place an order in a restaurant at the age of 27, when my niece can do it at 4.
Then, of course, there is my dreadfully low self-esteem. The line is blurry with this one. I’ve always lacked confidence. I have made attempts to overcome it – by losing weight, by changing how I dress, trying to celebrate my personality traits – but the fact is, I’ve still ended up in tears because I don’t like myself.
Now, I’m aware this has been caused by negative comments by other people and my strange inability to let them go. I don’t believe I’ve had a mental illness throughout my life, so I don’t want it to take the fall entirely for this one.
On the other hand, it became dominant in my mind, to the point I didn’t want to leave the house. Again, since getting treatment, this isn’t the case. I used to have negative comments playing on loop, making it almost impossible to get things done and while I still don’t like myself, I’m working on it. I’m no longer fixated on it. So, I think my low self-esteem was present prior to becoming ill, but it reached new lows, thanks to my illness.
The point I realised I needed help and that perhaps these feelings were not normal was when I suddenly started to believe that nobody liked me. Not my family, not my friends, not my boyfriend. I convinced myself I was worthless and boring. These forces were driving me into a dark space, and I needed to get out.
So, with gentle encouragement from my boyfriend, I called the doctor. At my appointment, we discussed how I felt, she prescribed Sertraline and gave me contact information for a counsellor. Since these things have been introduced to my life, I’ve felt a shift within myself and I recognise now that I carried a burden I didn’t need to for way too long. Some of these negatives characteristics weren’t part of me, but part of my illness.
I kept pushing forward because I hoped, one day, they would go away. It wasn’t until they took over my life that I realised I was going to need some help. It’s easy to look back and try to pin things on the illnesses, but some of them are as present as ever. I’m currently on a journey of discovery, about what’s me, and what’s a symptom. I couldn’t possibly say how long I’ve been unwell for, but I know it’s longer than I thought.
I must admit, though, I’m relieved. It’s nice to be able to receive treatment and losing some parts of me which I had anticipated living with for the rest of my life. Maybe they’ll pop up again, but the more I can identify what’s me and what isn’t, the easier it will be to know when to seek help, and long before it reaches the point it did previously.