Mental Health: Replenishing Dying Soil

IMG_5231Relapsing into crisis has been awful.  I felt my life was over. I couldn’t think straight and even when I did experience brief moments of clarity, my thoughts were doused in panic and chaos.

I have a wonderful CPN who called me into the local psychiatric unit  about a week and a half ago and spent the morning writing up a new care plan and respecting my unflinching and blind desire not to be admitted into hospital for the 5th time. I in turn, promised to work with her, to be honest and to see the care plan through  in the community, where I could continue to live a more normal life and where my independence would be respected.

It’s been a hard road. I’ve always in the past been admitted to hospital when in crisis and never really thought of how different braving it out in the community would be. The toughest thing has been having to cope with a thousand choices, resisting the urge to end my life and not giving in to self-destrictive desires and impulses. I’ve had 24/7 to manage these choices and the freedom to pretty much do as I wish, whilst seeing my CPN on a  daily basis. In hospital, all those choices would probably not have been choices or possibilities. I have found in the past that lack of freedom and independence in a hospital environment often means you don’t have to manage those difficult choices in quite the same way as you would in the community. But, I have not been alone this time. June, my CPN has been with me every step of the way. And, we have something that can not be not be broken – that thing I believe to be the most sacred of all things in mental health, trust.

I have decided as part of my recovery to walk 100k – all before my 33rd birthday, 19th of September and to do it for charity. Why? Because I usually thrive once I have a challenge. Challenges in the past have made my stormy centre slightly calmer, they have also helped direct my mind through the thick fog that often comes with being in crisis. June is supporting me every step of the way and I’m collecting money through the challenge for ICAN campaign.

I CAN is being led by a coalition of people who are committed to bettering the range of community support services available while helping to tackle stigma and encourage open conversations about mental health. People who are Independent, Contributing, Active and Networked enjoy better mental health and wellbeing. They have more resilience, enabling them to face life’s challenges and say I CAN. Money raised through the campaign will help fund community projects which provide support closer to home for people experiencing a mental health crisis, as well as schools based programmes and improved early intervention.

One of the most challenging aspects of the plan is venturing out three times a week to do a 5k walk. I have days when I feel immeasurably low and all I really feel like doing is closing the door, cutting myself off and sleeping. I’m less vocal about these kind of days now-days because I don’t want to worry the people around me, but truth is I still get them, too often. But, completing 100k in a six week period means I have to do three walks a week, or add any missing distance to the week after. And there comes the challenge, I have lived the last five years of my life yielding emotionally to my mental health fears, closing the door, cutting myself off and giving in – all because I believed it was the  ‘best thing to do in order to overcome an even greater crisis’  Now, I can’t do that. I have to venture out, at least three times a week, and the truth about every single walk is that I ALWAYS feel better post walk. Always. I’m also often quite perplexed afterwards as to how I mustered the strength to venture out in the first place.

June my CPN gives me tonnes of strength whilst my fragile dignity gives me a handful. I have to look for the rest, grab it when I can and from where I can. Why? Because I have learnt #ICAN. The thought of venturing out  might feel impossible, improbable, unimaginable and even unachievable at the time, but it isn’t. Not really. Physical activity sparks a strength that comes from somewhere else. It can slowly replenish dying soil, or that’s how it feels inside. I’m not saying it’s a one time wonder answer that fixes everything, it does take time. But, that’s where I’m currently at. So my plan at present is simply to give it time. To give myself time to try to provide my body with a real stab at change – through physical activity. I share the walks on Facebook and Twitter and am very grateful for all the generous donations that I received to date.  

If you would like to follow my journey and/or donate to this special cause, you can do so here and/or follow me on Twitter @malanwilkinson.

Thank you for all your continued support.

1 Comment

  1. Malan, I am SO extremely proud of you. In the past I have dealt with depression and remember the feeling of wanting just to be left alone, not opening the curtains, not answering the door or the phone and I know it was nowhere near what you are experiencing, I also know how much of a challenge it is for you to brave the outside world and try to find an inner strenghth to get you going. You are a survivor, a warrior and so so strong, to be able to venture out to help others feeling the way you do is commendable. It’s great that you have June to support you also. Keep up this amazing fight Malan, you CAN and WILL conquer this… xxxx

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