After a month of unusual symptoms, today I received results from a blood test. On first glance at my papers, I was disappointed to learn that I was still, in fact, healthy. My thyroid was working, my blood cells plentiful, and remarkably given Berlin sunlight hours, I wasn’t even lacking in vitamin D.
Floraidh Clement, on paper, is functioning just fine.
This should have arrived as good news. Unfortunately, it was the opposite of what I’d hoped to read.
“If your mind isn’t healthy, your body will follow” the doctor had recited on our first appointment three weeks ago. I had explained my symptoms and he had delicately suggested depression.
To me, this was impractical and thoughtless advice, better suited to Pinterest than a medical office. I needed real answers as to why I couldn’t concentrate, fell asleep at 8pm, and was plagued by dizzy spells. I needed iron tablets, vitamin supplements, a warning to avoid a certain food group – a concrete cure.
Instead of accepting the diagnosis, I asked for him to run some tests. Reluctantly, he agreed, if only to ensure there really wasn’t a hidden physical ailment.
It’s a terrible thing to admit, to hope that something is physically wrong with you. But I wanted to prove the doctor wrong so badly, so I could cure whatever it was; so I could comfortably tell people it had been identified, it would change, and I would swiftly change with it. With mental health, the path back to recovery isn’t quite so cut and dry.
Instinctively, a part of me had suspected something just wasn’t connecting. Despite moving to a city I love for a job I was excited about, the euphoria I was hoping for never quite arrived. Instead, I spent much of my time feeling depleted and disillusioned. I cried numerous times on the u-bahn home from work, convinced I had left a bad impression that day. Alongside the physical symptoms, there was an emotional strain which wouldn’t lessen, even when walking around the city and seeing the wonders which pulled me here in the first place.
While never assumed to be easy by any means, moving countries is supposed to be an invigorating experience. It’s for that exact reason that I refused to consider my physical symptoms were a result of anything deeper. All I’d wanted for numerous years was to move back to Germany and I had achieved my goal. How could I ever be unhappy? I stifled my feelings, certain it was my over-sensitivity making me surly and ungrateful for the opportunity. When a coworker noticed me dabbing furiously at my makeup in the toilets one afternoon last week, I quickly joked about the poor impact of crying on the complexion.
Really, the most important conclusion to draw from this saga is that your mental health can dive irrespective of whatever cool job you just started in which hip city. Regardless of the new colours on your Instagram grid and how speedily your Facebook friend list expands, none of this means a thing where mental health is concerned. Instead, it can be as precarious and unpredictable as life itself – when good, bad, or in Berlin.
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