‘You are strong; you are amazing; you are love’. These are just some of the words shared by a local mum struggling with her mental health, to anyone out there also battling with theirs.
Samantha (Sam) Haworth, 32, lives in Bacup with her husband Simon and two children. As well as battling with anxiety and depression Sam also has cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination, caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth. Unfortunately for some people the daily challenges of living with cerebral palsy can be difficult to cope with, which can lead to problems such as depression.
When Sam was a young girl she started to suffer from low mood. However, after years of keeping it to herself it wasn’t until around four years ago in 2015 when she finally sought help for her depression that she discovered her low moods, depression and anxiety were linked to her cerebral palsy.
Although Sam suffered post-natal depression when her eldest child, now 10, was born, it was only when the health of her husband, who has Type 1 diabetes, started to worsen and trigger suicidal feelings in her that she realised she had to seek help.
Sam said: “For years I had kept it all in about how I was feeling. But I realised Simon’s deteriorating health was also triggering my mental ill health, and with two young children to look after, I needed help. There have been times, and still continue to be times, where I can’t get out of bed and or interact with anyone.”
Sam was referred to mental health services and whilst it hasn’t all been plain sailing for her, with their help and the help of medication, she now understands that her cerebral palsy plays a big part in impacting her brain’s ability to process mood.
Her reduced mobility also has had a major impact on mood; it affects her everyday life limiting her independence. Until a year ago, she worked in a job she loved as a mortuary technician which she had trained for years for. She can’t physically stand long enough to cook anymore and though she can get around her own house, outside she needs to use a scooter or frame.
It’s difficult for anyone not suffering from depression or anxiety to understand. Sam wrote a poem to try and explain how it feels for her on the days she can’t speak:
The Grip Of Anxiety & Depression
The mish mash of thoughts that run through my head
Those silent tears I cannot shed
An outgoing person I used to be now reduced to a silent shell
Watching friends that once wished you well and gave you the strength to fight disappear
Is it me or was it them
Why can’t they understand this isn’t me?
I am not well
Down the black hole further I sink
Watching your loved ones moving on with their lives
Hoping and praying your end is in sight
This silent woman has much to tell
However she can’t even the simplest of requests and conversations are scrutinized
Is it the right time, is it going to inconvenience the loved one who cares so much
Don’t be mad at me if I don’t answer the door, the phone, or shy away from the shops, lack the energy to fight
Right now it’s too much
I’m trying I am of that you have my promise
All I can do is take it day by day
Whilst Sam still has periods of anything from three weeks to six months where she retreats into herself, loses her appetite and struggles to sleep, she now knows there are services available to help her.
Dr Rakesh Sharma, clinical lead for mental health at NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “Depression and anxiety are very common so it’s quite highly likely that at some point you’ll know someone who might be experiencing it.
“Being depressed and anxious can be a really lonely experience and the worst thing you can do for someone who you know is dealing with it is avoid them. It can be hard to know what to do or say, as it can be extremely hard to really understand what it’s all about. This can make it harder for them to get through it but sometimes the most important thing is just having supportive people around.”
Final words from Sam: “To anyone battling right now please keep going you are strong enough, you’re amazing and you are love. Also there is a wealth of support out there so please try and reach out. I know its difficult right now to see the light at the end of the tunnel and you will have relapses along the way but it will be worth it; opening up can also take some pressure off because you won’t feel guilty for hiding anything (like I did).”
Links to mental health helplines:
- Lancashire Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline, open 365 days a year ‑Monday – Friday 7.00pm until 11.00pm; Saturday & Sunday – 12.00pm until Midnight. Call: 0800 915 4640
- Kooth — for young people under 20 offering safe, online support 365 days a year https://www.kooth.com/
- Samaritans – available 24/7, call 116 123 or email: email@example.com
- Calm – a helpline and webchat for men who need to talk or find information. Open 5pm – midnight every day. Call 0800 58 58 58 or visit www.thecalmzone.net/help/get-help/
- The Silver Line – for older adults, available 24/7 call: 0800 470 8090