Seeking Help For My Mental Health

Sam Beach

This month I’d like to share something quite personal with you.

I can experience huge meltdowns in supermarkets for absolutely no valid reason whatsoever…

I get a burning fear that I can’t tidy the shelves or get around in the right order, and I most certainly panic if something that I need isn’t available - absolute meltdown mode ensues.

An example of this would be me exclaiming, “Dinner is cancelled, we will not eat, how can we make that without this specific ingredient? Dinner is ruined!” I know it sounds incredibly silly and yes I’m aware of how it might seem to a passer-by, but I truly can’t help it, especially if my anxiety is elevated. My salvation comes in the form of smaller shops with reduced options so I basically know what I’m going to have to choose from (availability being even more limited by the current public health situation).

It’s a serious matter and the way I can feel, not just in the aftermath, but in the run up to such an ‘episode’, is pretty horrendous.

They make me feel awful, I get sweaty and feel irrational about the smallest things…

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” That’s what they say, but I’m over here producing a waterfall over some tapas ingredients. I become erratic and over analytical – I might see that someone’s parked how I wouldn’t and this causes anxiety that literally stays with me all day, sometimes longer. Over the years I’ve become more prepared and can almost predict when a ‘supermarket meltdown’ is coming. The two things that help with this are fresh air and space away from the crowds of the supermarket.

My mental health had been fragile for some time and before I sought help, I was erratic to say the least. My moods were often frantic and I would behave hysterically about the smallest of situations. Despite being more balanced and aware of my triggers now, my parents can still spot when I’m a bit out of sync. I’ve read other people have similar types of physical presentations for equally wild, weird and wonderful reasons… my favourite was the below which I can totally relate to:

I once fainted in Wilkinson’s while looking for a planner, because none of them had white pages and all had too much writing in them….” - Why can’t they have white pages though!?

My mum was the one who encouraged me to seek help. I used the support I had at work at the time - all I had to do was make one phone call.

Mum said they had likely heard it all before so I shouldn’t worry, to be honest I mainly made that phone call to keep her happy, but it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. The phone call led to an assessment, which then led to a referral for therapy. With my therapist’s support (she was wonderful) I gained real insight into my own thoughts and feelings. Looking back at how much I had going on, it’s no wonder I felt like my head was going to explode. Therapy was a huge help and did more than I could have even imagined… I realised that living with that much stress wasn’t ‘normal’ and I didn’t have to live that way. There was hope for something better.

Did I end up taking any medication? Yes.

Did I take it for the suggested period of time? Yes.

I came off the medication when I felt comfortable enough to experience my new ‘normal’ and to decide whether it was maintainable without medication. It was hard work and to this day (three years later) I still have ‘episodes’ but they are far more manageable.

I think about how my stoma impacts my mental health and in all honesty its tumultuous.

In the beginning I believed that everything about it was completely out of my control. I experienced periods of denial and I still do in a way.

With so many people telling you how amazing your life is, and how it will be, and how lucky you are… it takes time to actually realise this for yourself… well it did for me. I’m grateful to be in that place now, but I had to get to here in my own time, at my own pace and in my own way. Take care of your lovely brains – they’re delicate! They have us doing the strangest things sometimes… fascinating really, but I guess that’s what makes us that little bit more special!

by Sam Melling

Sam Melling

About the author

AKA TheModernBagLady, I enjoy Tapas Tuesdays, Fizz Thursdays and Fun time Fridays. When I'm not my sensible (using the term very loosely) office alter ego, I can be found seeking new adventures, wondering in woodlands, flirting with festivals and lightly laughing my way through the trials and tribulations that any “bag lady” faces. 

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