The sun will return

The sun will return. No matter how dark the night. No matter how dark the mood. No matter how dark the moment. The sun will return.

My good friend Dean Royles is sunshine personified. If you know Dean, you will already know what I mean. If you don’t yet know him, please do consider following him on Twitter. The other day I had the pleasure of a long overdue video catch-up with the great gent. At one point, we got to talking about my mental health situation. Dean has done excellent work these past few years with an organisation providing mental health support. Based on this experience, he shared some cheering words with me:

“The good news is that many mental health conditions are treatable and recoverable.”

Seasoned readers of this blog will know that this has been a difficult year for me. I have found myself on an unexpected mental health journey. These past nine months, I have learnt so much about what it is to have a diagnosed mental health condition, for the first time in my life. As I wrote in Mental health: Six things I’ve learnt in 2022:

“At the start of all this, I felt overwhelmed by and unable to cope with the turmoil in my mind, and sought medical help. The doctor diagnosed me as suffering with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder (I didn’t know that you could stack up mental health conditions in this way, but it turns out you very much can). I was prescribed antidepressants for the first time in my life. A few months later, when the anxiety came back strong, I was additionally prescribed heart medication. I continue to take both to this day.

“My progress through this mental health journey has not been a straight line in a single direction. Perhaps no-one’s is. Rather, there have been bad times and good times. Seeming breakthroughs – wonderful moments of renewal – followed in short order by stumbles, setbacks and long stretches of little to no change or improvement.”

Now, nine months in, I am starting to wonder if I am starting to approach recovery.

An unbroken run of smiles?

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It almost feels like tempting fate to write these words. But nine months into this mental health journey, I feel something of a sea change. It almost feels as if the sun is returning.

Early in this mental health journey, my wife came up with a simple and effective way to keep track of my progress. She suggested I mark each passing day on our kitchen wall calendar with a simple smiley, sad or indifferent face, as a way of recording the state of my mental health each 24 hours. Looking back over the past few weeks, things would seem to have stabilised. I see an unbroken run of smiles.

Whether this change is down to reaching a stable situation with my medication, or to life affording me the luxury of a little time to rest and recuperate, or to something else again, I cannot say. But things feel different. Better.

I hesitate to write these words, in case I jinx things. Yet I resolved a few months ago to to be as honest and open as I can about this mental health journey. For some perverse reason, it almost feels as if I am cheating you, the reader, by being the bearer of what may (or may not, of course) prove to be good news.

Where things might go next, I cannot say. I could be moving towards full recovery. It is equally possible that these tentative signs of progress will go into reverse. This mental health journey so far has been nothing if not endlessly surprising, endlessly unpredictable. I can only hope for the best, while preparing for the worst. No matter what, though, I reaffirm my intention to write with as much openness and honesty as I can about each step in this journey, in the hope that it might be of some small help to at least one soul out there.

You are not alone

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I want anyone and everyone who might feel that they are struggling with a mental health issue (or who might know someone who is), that they are not alone.

You are not alone. You are never alone. Others have been this way before you, and still more will follow you down this path. If you ask for help, you will be amazed at the forces that come to your aid. Please do not suffer alone or in silence. The help you need is likely there for you.

Please always bear in mind Dean’s lovely reminder that “the good news is that many mental health conditions are treatable and recoverable”.

No matter how dark the night. No matter how dark the mood. No matter how dark the moment.
The sun will return.

May you be nothing but kind today, to others and to yourself.

May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.

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RESOURCES

  • Mental health (NHS) Information and support for your mental health from the NHS.
  • Information and support (Mind) Resources from Mind, the UK mental health charity.
  • NAMI Homefront (NAMI) Online resources from US charity NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
  • SANE Australia Visit the site of this “national mental health charity making a real difference in the lives of people affected by complex mental health issues”.

FOOTNOTES

* I  have written about my ongoing mental health journey in the following posts: Into the infinity of thoughtsRenewal; and No words?Mental health first responseGlorifyIn our darkest hours; and At the heart of thingsNo feeling is finalRelax harder.; and Anxiety: Your own worst enemyAll these moments; and Mental health: Six things I’ve learnt in 2022; and Coping?

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