Tomorrow, I am going to start two weeks’ worth of (very) short blog posts on mental health. An A-Z. Cheery, off-beat procession, containing references to creative swearing, reading, writing, nature, custard slices, a mango in the bath and being focused on Professor Brian Cox. Those items integral to stablising my mental health, improving it, managing it. Cats, Welsh cakes, jokes, oils, letting go, avoiding and excising some people. ALL SORTS! I am not a mental health professional, but I have managed conditions for a long time and sometimes in startling ways (so I am told).
The reason the post title is ‘Reassessment, writing and good health’ is because I’ve had my back against the wall this week. I was born with a mild heart condition, but it has become more troublesome of late; also, because, we think, of chronic stress which I have not managed particularly well, my blood pressure is very high. This is a new one. A new adventure! Some weeks ago I fainted; it took my heart a while to sort itself out. I am not allowed to drive and I have a constant headache and am frequently dizzy. Blood pressure monitored twice a day, health centre every week, probably a heart procedure coming up (but likely ablation not a big surgery type thingy). It’s not a very good cocktail because a few years ago, I had two TIAs, – here: https://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-is-stroke/what-is-tia/ – which did not progress to stroke, but you have to be watchful. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared a little bit. Yesterday, I accessed my records to discover that – as far as I am able to collate information – cardiology and neurology had not followed up as they were supposed to do after my hospital admission and I was listed as being treated, on medication and so on and I am not and have not been.
(See this mango? Ah, that little number on the lower left there is what, all my life, I have called a mango hedgehog, more on which later.)
But isn’t this post about mental health and the A-Z I’ve got coming for you? Yes. I was born with a condition, but I doubt very much that the things I have been through and manage are exactly a help here! So, for example, I have to focus on relaxation and acknowledge the fact that, since late childhood, I have not slept well. We put this down to hyper-vigilance: I wake through the night on high alert, ready to go, to be watchful, to defend. If you have had trauma in your early life, this may be recognisable to you. I am sorry and send so much love. Chronic sleep deprivation is not good for you; it’s connected with raised blood pressure, too. I didn’t know that until yesterday. What I did know, though, is that mental health and physical health are intertwined, so as I deal with the physical nature of things (and we may have to look at some meds to take my system down a bit; I do not have medication for anything or therapeutic support), I must look also at how my mental health is. How I take better care of it.
A big wake-up call. Time to change, certainly, and so I thought I would share with you the steps I have already taken and what I have done already in my life. And it will be light hearted. If no-one reads it, I will stop because there’s enough going on in our lives.