By Nanette Mellor CEO
I’ve been learning about Mental Health this week to make sure the staff and volunteers here at The Brain Charity are all looked after properly (if I don’t look after them, they can’t look after you).
I went into the course thinking I knew virtually nothing about ‘Mental Health’, which always sounds a bit scary and complicated, but it turns out I knew a lot more than I thought I did. Why? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly my Auntie Sylvia, as well as having a learning disability, had schizophrenia too (I just thought of her as Auntie Sylvia. I didn’t really associate her with the big scary issue of ‘Mental Health’ and, despite her ‘episodes’, she was always my favourite auntie). Secondly, I have spent my whole career working for disabled people. As it turns out, lots of disabled people have mental health problems at one time or another (no doubt not only due to having to cope with the disability itself, but also due to the discrimination, the poverty, the lack of social support, the welfare benefit assessments… need I go on?)
It is true to say that there is a really good chance that living with a neurological condition will affect a person’s mental health at some point. Of course it will. It is perfectly reasonable to feel anxiety after being told your speech may deteriorate and it is more than understandable to feel depressed at the thought that your memories might begin to fade.
Just like the physical injuries, the emotional effects of having a neurological condition will leave their emotional bruises and will be painful. Unless you are a robot there is simply no getting away from it because these events are really, really horrible things to have to go through.
Life is hard and it leaves its mark. Life with a neurological condition is harder and living with one whilst feeling anxious, low or alone - especially at Christmas time - can no doubt become unbearable.
I picked up two important messages from the course I attended:
1. If you are feeling anxious, low or if you are having problems sleeping please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about it, it’s really, really common. Just go and see your GP.
2. If you do go, the treatment you get will most probably work and you will be feeling better in no time.
New year, new you.