I am currently in the middle of what might have previously been called a nervous breakdown. I have faced some life situation adversities in the last few years that have collectively triggered a major episode of anxiety disorder for me.
However, I am not experiencing these adversities and responses from a position of disadvantage. Due to my privileged life of education, continuous employment, knowledge of the mental health system, the ability to advocate for myself, access to resources such as money, the NHS, Department of Health funded voluntary sector services, broadband at home, internet searches to find information about services, a GP who is never too rushed not to spend proper time with me getting an update and co-producing a treatment plan, access to private services if needed, a safe home, loving family and friends etc, I have a strong safety net – or resilience blocks – in place to ensure I don’t drop through the cracks, I access all the services available to me. I can even think about taking part in local or further afield wellbeing activities that will support my treatment.
This means I can focus on my recovery without worrying about a million other questions and problems – where will I sleep tonight, how will I pay that upcoming bill, who will look after my kids, how can I avoid being abused again. It means my chances of recovering in a healthy, quick enough way are much higher than someone else who is not fortunate enough to have the resilience blocks I have in place.
At times during this episode, I have been so ill that a major achievement has been getting out of bed on a day, or not having continuously crippling panic attacks that make me feel like I am dying. I can’t imagine having to deal with the physical and mental symptoms from somehwere other than the luxury of my own bed or the spare room of a family member. I can’t imagine not having someone to help me make and attend GP appointments, pick up prescriptions or make sure I eat that day. But that is the reality for many.
Imagine worse still, you are a young person who has faced some severe trauma or adversity – without the privilege of a family to support you… you do not yet have the education or information to advocate for yourself, you have no adult in your corner advocating for you and you have no resources of your own. Not only that, there aren’t enough services available to give you the help you need. Children and Young People’s mental health receives just 0.07% of the NHS budget, approx 7% of the total spend on Mental Health. And yet, if we treated mental ill health in its earliest presentation, not only would far fewer adults need services, the problems would be much less likely to escalate into more serious conditions.
It’s all well and good for me to sit here and write/preach about my recovery but I’m one of the lucky few, not the struggling many.
I think in the Western World there is a lot of mistaking adversity for disadvantage. Don’t get me wrong, life is challenging for most of us in a way it has never been before. The rub is, f you are lucky enough to be standing on enough resilience blocks to start with, the fall is usually much shorter and the landing much softer.