Our Helpline and Information officer, Uschi Stickroth, talks about mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Today, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. We’ve all become more aware of our mental health this year during lockdown and pandemic restrictions.
Our lives have changed so much, with many people having to face the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, lack of support and services, and ill health.
Even if your life has not been so drastically affected, this pandemic has touched all of us.
I consider myself a fairly resilient and resourceful person but I am not afraid to say that I too have experienced my own mental health struggles.
Over the last six months, I’ve become aware of a constant low level anxiety in the pit of my stomach interspersed with days when I have found it difficult to get up and get dressed.
I want to be honest, these feelings took me by surprise.
What has and continues to help me is to acknowledge, with kindness and without judgment, to myself how I have been feeling, and that it’s ok to feel like that. And to talk about it!
So, Mental Health Day has taken on a new significance for me this year, and I am happy to keep talking and keep supporting anyone who experiences mental health issues.
I feel lucky I can also do this in my professional capacity at Epilepsy Scotland.
Epilepsy and mental health
Most people with epilepsy will be familiar with mental health struggles. In the UK, 1 in 6 people will have depression but for people with epilepsy, this figure increases to 1 in 3.
There can be many reasons why people with epilepsy can have low mood or suffer from depression. A diagnosis can change your whole life and it may feel like your world’s been turned upside down.
That’s reason enough to feel anxious and depressed. Family and friends may treat you differently too. It’s not easy to accept that life has changed.
On top of that, side effects of your anti-epileptic medication can also affect your mood and how you feel.
If this is you, don’t struggle in silence, reach out and ask for help. Don’t hesitate contacting your GP or epilepsy specialist nurse.
It might ‘just’ be a phone call for the time being, but there is always something that can be done to help.
Your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse will check to see if your low mood is caused by your anti-epileptic medication or they may prescribe anti-depressants if they feel this is the right treatment for you. They can also refer you to some counselling services.
Epilepsy Scotland are here for you
Our free and confidential helpline receives many calls from people who struggle to come to terms with their epilepsy.
You can still contact us during the current restrictions, we are always here to listen and give you emotional support. Make a note of our number or save it into your phone: 0808 800 2200.
If your anxieties are not too severe, there is loads you can do to help yourself.
Some people find it helpful to work on changing how they think about certain situations, and this can then change how you feel about them.
There is lots of information on the Internet about self-care and looking after your mental health.
Mind, the Mental Health charity, have some useful resources, have a look by clicking here.