‘Our mental and physical health are intimately connected’
‘Between October and March every year, I used to feel as if someone had cut a nerve between my mind and my body. I would sleep for 10 hours, yet struggle to get out of bed. Reading was difficult and writing even more so. My brain was clear, but it was almost as if it had lost the power to direct my body to act out my thoughts.
I’ve learned to manage the mindinvading anxiety I’ve dealt with since my teens. But year after year, I just accepted the annual exhausted disconnect from my body.
That is, until last autumn, when my GP said what I was experiencing could be symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a form of depression. She suggested my West African heritage could mean I was deficient in vitamin D (though, since then, NHS guidelines have been updated and doctors now recommend everyone supplement with vitamin D in winter).
Within two weeks, I felt like myself. Yes, I still got tired. Yes, waking up to grey skies rather than sunshine outside my window wasn’t ideal. But I felt well.
One year on, winter no longer fills me with dread, and I actually feel at home in my body. The experience taught me a valuable lesson: you don’t have mental and physical health, you have a mind that sits within your body. And you need to look after both.’ Bridget’s pamphlet of poetry, Titanic (Outspoken), is out now