R U OK Blog Series - Mel Murphy

R U OK Blog Series - Mel Murphy

R U Ok day was on September 15th 2018, and as part of this I decided to reach out to some of my beautiful family, friends and clients to see if I could share some of their incredibly powerful stories with you all.

Written by my Mel Murphy.

Someone once asked me if I was okay. And I wasn't. But, now I am.

For so long I tried to hide my anxiety and then subsequent depression.
The stigma that is attached to having a 'mental illness' is alarming, scary and something that can harbour a heavy feeling of guilt and shame within you for such a long time and for some, that feeling never goes away.

I don't know how to start this piece of writing but I am compelled to share my story in the hopes of lifting the stigma of having a mental illness and to shed some light on how asking someone if they are okay can change their life.

I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression when I was 19 years old.
I know that I had been struggling for at least 5 years before I sought help though.
Looking back on my teenage years, I really wish I let my guard down and reached out to someone, maybe my mum because she has always been so supportive. 
I know why I didn't though.

It's the way society portrays having a Mental Illness. It's ingrained into society and for me, I felt as though people would see me differently. I felt like people would see me as weak or crazy and I just couldn't ever imagine asking for help. I thought I could hide these feelings forever.

The turning point for me and the moment I knew I had to seek help was when I lost two close friends within 6 months of each other. Unrelated and two different causes but the loss of these two beautiful souls took a part of me with them and I knew that if I didn't seek help now, I don't know if I ever would.

I couldn't see a future for myself.
I couldn't see myself becoming happier or 'normal' and as awful and shocking as this now sounds to me, I didn't want to be here anymore.
A friend of mine took his own life. 
I spent months and months dreaming about them and reliving moments we shared together. 

In my head, I was imagining having a conversation with them, like, reaching out and having a deeper conversation than we usually did. In between talking about music and cheap wine we were going to consume, I would reach over, touch his hand and ask him if we was really okay.

The grief had consumed me and I had become obsessed with daydreaming and wishing I could turn back time and have that conversation with him. I wish I could have saved his life. I still do.

So, I know that this loss and the loss I experienced just a few months earlier would break most people. I know that, but I also know that my 'Black Dog' was growing bigger and deeper and stronger and I felt myself slipping away. 

My partner at the time asked me one day - "Mel, do you need some help?"
He could have been referring to anything. What sort of 'help' ? but I knew exactly what he meant and he knew that I knew what he meant. Time stood still and I was initially angry. So angry.

How could this person, who was so close to me, think that I needed help?
I thought that I was the master of hiding my emotions and I believed that I had put up such a good front. I believed that everyone around me saw that I was rock solid.
But he saw the signs and he asked me that question and that changed my life.
Do I need help? Yes. I do, and I have for a very, very long time.
That very same day we booked an appointment for my local GP. I went to that appointment after crying and sobbing in my ex partners car for 45. It was all so real now. I had finally accepted that I needed help. I felt embarrassed and so ashamed. I felt like people would see me differently. I feel like they wouldn't see me for who I wanted them to see me as and they would see me as 'weak' and 'crazy'. I was terrified of being alienated. 

The appointment was quick. The doctor said next to nothing and it was all a blur but I distinctively remember starting the conversation with " I am so sad" and bursting into more tears.

There was no judgment and no looks of disappointment. He wasn't alarmed or mad or anything even close to it. He didn't look down upon me or see me as this frail, weak person. He was supportive and he didn't treat me any differently to when I met him ten minutes before. I suddenly didn't feel so crazy.
This GP, who I had never met in my life, just listened to me and told me that he could help me. He set up another appointment with a specialist and we put a plan in place. I walked out of that appointment with a new path for my life.
I had a plan and I could see myself living again. I could see myself getting better. 
And I did. The path was not quick and it was not easy. But my god, it was so, so worth it. I am here.

I am 26. I have my own family. I have a beautiful 20 month old daughter.
I have a loving and supportive family and my friends are absolutely amazing.
I have a wonderful and colourful life and I know that I would not be here today to enjoy it if I didn't get help that day.
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