Mental Health Post Sepsis | By Aaron Holmes – Sepsis Survivor

by | Aaron Holmes, Depression, Mental Health, Post Sepsis Syndrome, Sepsis Soapbox Stories | 0 comments

Mental Health Post Sepsis | By Aaron Holmes – Sepsis Survivor

 
Hello there, fellow survivor. You’ve had a brush with death, you’ve stared it in the eye and said “Not today, bucko!”
 
Or have you?
 
Surviving Sepsis
I make no apologies for what I’m going to say here. “Mental Health” is a dirty phrase in Northern Ireland. Mention mental health, and you can guarantee someone will have a bad taste joke about Holywell/Purdysburn/Knockbracken/Gransha (depending on your location in NI).
 
There’s a stigma attached to it, when there really shouldn’t be. Mental illness is seen by many as someone sitting rocking in a corner crying. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
 
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. You, as a sepsis survivor, have been through an incredibly traumatic event. I can only speak from my own experience here as everyone differs. My experience is compounded by the fact that prior to my sepsis, I was already diagnosed with depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
 
I’m being very careful, in writing this, to separate that from what I consider to be sepsis specific mental health issues.
 
Discharge From Hospital
So, you’ve been discharged from hospital. You’re home, and you’ve been to see your GP and give them your discharge notes. You’ve maybe spent up to a month in hospital, possibly more.
 
Here’s the first thing that will hit you. The simplest thing will exhaust you, physically and mentally. It doesn’t matter how fit you were before the sepsis. It doesn’t matter how compos mentis you were. You will be shattered. You will be confused.
 
Welcome to the sepsis brain fog.
 
You’ll set things down and lose them for hours because you can’t remember where you put them. You won’t be able to concentrate on things. You will cry for no reason. You will cry in frustration. You’ll cry and forget why you’re crying. 
 
So what can we do to help with this? Lists. Lists become your friend. Write everything down. Bullet journalling is great to help plan your post sepsis life. Keep post-its everywhere in the house.
 
Depression
Depression will most likely hit you without you realising it. There are so many symptoms that it’s hard to list them all. It’s very hard to recognise them in yourself too. I did a program called ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and considered myself pretty good at picking up the signs of depression in others.
 
I didn’t pick them up in myself.
 
This is where it’s important to have family, friends, your own doctor, anyone who can pick up on that change in demeanor. If they do mention to you about depression, remember it is nothing to be ashamed of.
 
Talk to them about how you’re feeling. If you feel low, say so. If you have thoughts of suicide, for the love of all that is holy say something.
 
Do not suffer in silence like I did. 
 
Relationships
You’ll find your relationships with people may change. People you once considered your best friend, maybe now you can’t stand them.
 
You may feel like no one understands what you’ve been through. That is mostly true. People don’t understand. It’s a hugely traumatic event.
 
You may develop a fear of infection. This is normal. 
 
Talking
You’ve probably noticed a theme here. Talk. For f**k sake talk about how you’re feeling.
 
If someone asks how you are, don’t say “I’m ok” if you aren’t. Tell them you aren’t ok.
 
THERE IS NO SHAME IN NOT BEING OK.
 
I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH.
 
Supporting Others
There are people out there who KNOW what you’ve been through.
 
We are here for you.
 
I went through my sepsis and recovery alone for the best part of it. I will not see anyone else have to do that.
 
I’m here for you. I am here to listen non-judgementally.
 
If I can offer advice I will. 
 
Once again, there’s no shame in not being ok. You are stronger than sepsis, though. You are so much more than that.
 
The road to recovery is a long one.
 
Take your time to travel it. Stop occasionally and look around, take stock of what is happening, and talk about things. 
 
By Aaron Holmes
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