As my mental health deteriorated so did my ability to care for myself. If you think about all the things we need to maintain to live that’s a significant game changer to find yourself unable to work, leave the house or routinely shop for food/cook and pay bills.In hindsight I would say that I fell and I was fortunate to have someone there to catch me and cushion that monumental fall.
Now, ten years on I can take responsibility and do so with pride when I look back and see how far I have come in the last troubled decade. I got back behind the wheel and now not only drive myself locally but volunteer to drive places further afield. The basics may be staple for most others but for me overcoming the red tape in my head is matched with dealing with worsening shortness of breath from my deteriorating pulmonary hypertension.
I had a good run for a couple of years where my mental health improved and my physical health remained stable, but now my physical health seems to be flagging and my mental health in comparison is the best it has been for years. This is just as well considering the choices and hurdles I face as my limited physical abilities become more restricted.
I am in, what I call, a no man’s zone; I can walk a maximum of 230 yards without having to stop due to chest pain and breathlessness, but I do not qualify for a blue badge until I can no longer walk 200 yards. In the meantime I have to find ways to get from my car to whichever destination I need to go with minimum physical exertion so that I am practically functional when I get there.
The temptation to stay home is overwhelming, but I have worked too hard to get to this feeling of independence and security to let it all just go. From ordering and collecting my monthly medications to going to the dentist, library, hairdresser and multiple medical appointments, taking care of myself is a full-time job and one I cannot afford to lose for my mental well-being.
It is a limited and fruitless existence to not learn new skills, which is why I’m learning about business management and economics, things I have very little idea of so I may have a challenge and important roll in my household. It took a while but realising that I have to opportunity to choose an occupation again and indulge other interests to an extent to change my life and outlook has been daunting and exciting.
Maintaining a decent lifestyle has been fundamental in my psychotherapy and is the foundation of how I make choices relating to my physical health. After all, I need a reason to keep physically well and without that motivation I would find myself in a deep dark tunnel of despair I left behind a while ago. This is not to say I don’t suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression, but I no longer live there in a bleak and pessimistic climate.
The number of yards I can walk, books I can read a week or stress I can endure may change but the biggest change is finding a reason to want to do anything at all, when life takes on a grey shroud of unhappiness, that I did not think I would ever shift. Finding joy in anything was my struggle and on reflection I now find joy in many things.