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All The Answers 

 

I’m a mental health professional. I’ve worked in mental health for several years, I’ve studied Psychology, and I’m about the embark on the final stage of training to become a Counsellor. All of this means that I’m expected to be someone who has all the answers about how to maintain good mental health, but I’m also a person with chronic anxiety, who regularly experiences periods of severe depression. For me, mental health is a huge part of my personal and professional life, and it brings a world of paradox. 

They say that “Doctors are the worst patients” and I can believe that, because mental health workers are the worst for managing our mental health. We know a lot of the answers, I can talk about different styles of therapy, coping skills, and all the self-care tips you could ask for, but doing them myself is a whole other battle. 

Why is that? Well, half the time my brain would tell me that it’s because I’m lazy, unworthy, a waste of space and good oxygen, but my brain wouldn’t be correct about that, that’s just the depression talking. Depression is truly an insidious illness. It takes up all of your energy and replaces it with dark clouds, clouds that fill your brain so the only space available is packed with negative thoughts. When a depressive episode has passed and I look back, I can never believe that I felt as awful as I did, I almost gaslight myself into thinking I must have been exaggerating, yet when I’m in it, I struggle to find the will to go on. 

 

I’m in a good place overall, my life is pretty good by anyone’s standards. I’m loved, I have a great family, friends who care, the best job, and I’m headed into a positive future. None of that matters when depression hits. 

If you’ve never experienced it then it really is difficult to explain. All of the advice seems like it should work, after all, obviously staying in the house isn’t going to make you feel better than a good brisk walk would! Of course cooking nutritious meals is better for our health than getting pizza delivery, and I know we should talk about our feelings. That doesn’t mean that it’s possible to do it. It can be incredibly frustrating to try to reason with someone who believes the world would be better off without them, and it’s just as hard to argue with my own mind when it insists the same thing about myself. 

 

In that sense, it’s a good thing that I have so much experience managing my own mental illness, because otherwise I wouldn’t have nearly as much empathy or patience for my clients. When I make suggestions and try to guide clients toward taking healthy steps to improve how they feel, I do so while acknowledging how difficult it is to do these things. All we can do is encourage and be compassionate toward one another, that’s something that makes a big difference. 

 

Hayden Quinn is a Sapphic romance and YA author. She lives in the UK with her wife and their precious cats. You can find her novels and novellas on Amazon, and connect on X, Blue Sky, and TikTok. 

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