Mental Health: In Our Own Words
August 14, 2019
I was about 16 when I was diagnosed with depression,
my doctors think that it stemmed from my parents divorcing and struggling with school really.
It all started when my father died when I was at high school.
It all started in university during my final year.
It all started when I was 16, I came out of a relationship I was in at the time and I
started purging and self-harming. I first realised I had a mental health problem
when I was 15. I was cutting myself every day and crying all the time.
Soon after the attack happened I started to feel throes of anxiety, panic attacks started
creeping in. I first realised that I had a problem when
I really wanted to stop all the things I was doing but I just couldn’t seem to stop no
matter how badly I wanted to. I was suffering from hallucinations which
at the time were really scary because I didn’t know what was reality and what was my imagination.
At my worst I felt like I was absolutely worthless, alienating and destructive with no help of
recovery. I felt like I had this black cloud hanging
constantly over my head and it’s just a feeling that stays with you and you can’t
seem to get away from it all and you feel completely alone.
I felt like this was going to be it forever. I felt as though I’d never reach any of
my ambitions or my goals. I felt like I was in my own bubble hearing
muffled voices of people around me. When I had my first mental break, proper mental
breakdown and I decided to run away from home. I felt like the world will be better off without
me. My mental health problem means that I go through
many highs and lows which I struggle to control. Sometimes I just want to hide away.
I feel that I have to my make everyone else happy and every day is a struggle but I just
remind myself that I’m strong. My mental health problem means that sometimes
the world can be a very scary, very dangerous and very dark place.
Everyday tasks can become the most mammoth missions that seem like you’re never going
to be able to do them. My mental health problem means that a life
is hard. The hardest thing about having a mental health
problem is people not realising that there’s something wrong with you and that you can
be really ill even if you look absolutely fine. I think especially having an eating
disorder people assume that you’re going to look a certain way or be a certain size
or shape or you know they imagine certain stereotypes that aren’t necessarily true.
Like the social and in my case like the cultural stigma associated with it.
If I’m having a bad day, no matter how small it is, it feels like the whole world is crashing
in on me and things just keep getting worse. Just trying to get the people around me to
understand what I’m going through when they haven’t gone through something like me is
probably the hardest thing. Social situations in particular can be really
difficult. I sometimes can’t commit to what we’d call sort of normal everyday activities.
The word schizo, I think it has a lot stigma attached to it, I really don’t like it.
What really reassured me was knowing that there are so many other people out there who
have got the same diagnosis as me and that I’m not alone.
Having my two rescue dogs to look after and to take care of because I know that they need
me around and they always happy to see me, so no matter how bad my days is how awful
everything seems to be, I know that they need me and they always make me smile.
Having such a great network of friends, family and people who are out there who can help.
I’d look at how far I’ve come and everything that I’d gone through and realise that I
am still standing. It really helps me when my friends treat me
the way they did six years ago before this all started. I was the happy laidback person
and that’s the person I want to be and aspire to be again.
It really helps me when people just treat me normally.
I’d like people to treat. To treat me like, like you would your own mother I guess. That’s,
yes, I think that’s a good way to treat people.
I don’t want people to tiptoe around me. I’d like people to treat me like any other
normal person but also just to be a bit more sensitive around me, not to, pre-stigmatise
depression and everything and telling me to cheer up and everything.
I wish I’d known how much I was going to grow and learn as grew up and grow older.
I wish I’d known how much therapy was going to help me and how much I was going to gain
from that. And I wish I’d known that it was possible to meet people who would love
me for all of me, including my mental illness. That I didn’t have to feel so alone and
that there was a lot of support out there. That there are people out there and organisations
that can help me. I don’t regret having mental health problems
because it has made me who I am today. I wish I’d known just how supportive people
can be once you tell them what you’re going through.
People are accepting, they’re not going to walk down the street and cry, you mental
case, they’re not going to, you know, they’re not going to do anything like that, everyone’s
incredibly understanding and if they’re not, bleep them.
So the best piece of advice I’d have to give would be just getting over that initial
fear of coming out to people about your condition because once you talk about it, it really
does help. Best piece of advice I ever got was just focus
on today. Because you can’t change what’s happened in the past and there’s honestly
no real way of predicting what’s going to happen in the future.
I know it’s hard but be yourself and be brave and you will recover.
Take each day as it comes and even if that’s too much break it right down to just five
minutes at a time, I find that that really helps.
Just ask for help, just make that step and ask anybody, you know and they will be supportive
for you. Everybody has scars, some people have them
in the mind and some people have them on legs, like I do.
Just basically be yourself, that’s simple enough in what might be a bit cliché but
I guess it’s true. It’s okay to be mental and that most people
are just not in the same way as you but there are ways to get help.
Even if you think that things can’t get better, that you tried so many times and you’ve
kind of, you fed up and you’ve had enough of trying, things really can and you can get
better and you can recover. So, don’t give up on yourself.