Hey guys! This post has been the most difficult I have ever written, as it is so personal. However, mental health affects so many people, including myself. Sharing my story therefore, is a reminder that there can be a positive ending and that help is always available. This post is in collaboration with Mombie Diaries who has started a campaign called #anxieteaandme, where she encourages everyone to share their stories, or to support one another through a friendly gathering, or simply a cup of tea. Mental health should not be a taboo subject, which is why I am sharing my story.
Firstly, I would just like to apologise if I am really scatty with what I say, for anyone that knows me I am not one to openly share my feelings and tend to bottle them. However, over time I have discovered that this does more harm than good, but my past is not the easiest for me to explain. For you guys though, I will certainly try my best.
For anyone that has had / has anxiety, whether you have been diagnosed or not, there may be a traumatic event that sparks this. I myself have always been a shy, quiet person, I would say that was due to not knowing many people my own age as a kid. Therefore interaction with others growing up was minimal, and as an only child, I had a particularly special bond with my parents. They were, and are, my support network, the ones I look up to, my rocks. So when things turned bad for them, I struggled a lot.
For me, things started getting worse when I was 13. My Dad, had been diagnosed with bipolar a few years prior to this, which was not easy. For anyone living with a person with depression, you will understand the issues faced on a daily basis. My Dad, the person I had idolised all my life, now did not see the point of getting out of bed, and did not think he was important to anyone. In all honesty, if he did was not put on the right medication when he needed it, I am not sure he would be as happy, or even here, today. Almost a decade on, as anyone does, he has good and bad patches but is so much better, and as people are more aware about mental health there are people to talk to that will listen.
As supporting as my Mum was, she had her own issues. Due to the lack of awareness regarding mental health, she struggled to help my Dad in giving him the support he needed, as his condition is not a physical one, and is not an instant fix, with or without medication. She herself has battled with alcohol, by no means did she ever have an addiction, but she relied on it to erase the stresses of her life. Now the issues have subsided massively, and her intake is controlled, however, the fear that she will relapse will always remain.
Now back to 13 year old me. I myself did not have any friends at school, and no one to talk to about the struggles of my home life, I felt very alone. Group work and discussions would petrify me, in addition to lunch and breaks, where I would be sat by myself watching the time go by. I always had the feeling that people were watching me, and judging me for being a loner, making me so self conscious. The worst part, was that every day was the same. For 2 years. Yeah sure, I had friends, but no one I could truly talk to. My parents, as supportive as they could be, had their own problems and did not know what to do – assuming I was shy to talk to people, so just told me to knuckle down with schoolwork and friends would come.
It got to the point that I would not turn up to school. Just the sheer thought of going through those gates would make my heart beat fast, uncontrollable breathing , hot flushes, feeling sick, shaking and on the verge of tears. I used to get regular panic attacks, and get excruciating migraines and stress related headaches, medicating myself on painkillers whenever I wanted to. I would plead to my parents not to make me go, or not be able to leave the car when they attempted to drop me off. I just did not want to be judged, or for anyone to have opinions about me, which they would not have if I was not there. It got to the point I did not want to leave the house, let alone go anywhere by myself. I stopped seeing my family and those that cared; days at a time I could sit in my bedroom, knowing I was safe in those 4 walls and not having to talk to anyone. It was the only time I was at peace. In 2014, my attendance at school dropped to 59%.
Luckily, that’s when the school intervened. They called me out of class to ask if there were any problems, for which I denied of course, but my tone and expression gave away that everything was not okay. My school organised meeting with their councillor, who helped me open up about how I was feeling, setting weekly challenges for me to do. 3 months of weekly sessions later, I was feeling a lot more confident about myself, and my attendance increased to 72%.
6 years on, and it is safe to say I am the best I have ever been. Yes, I do still struggle quite a bit with doing things independently, (for example my weekly uni shopping trips or the bus ride to my lectures terrifies me), but I am worlds apart from the way I used to be. I have a great network of friends, some I know I will have for the rest of my life, and my relationship with my parents, especially my Mum, has been the best its been in 10 years. Most importantly, I have people to talk to if I am having a rough patch.
I am just another example of mental illness having a negative effect on a persons life, but I know I am not the only one. There are many others who are going through worse situations than me, and do not have anyone to talk to. But you are not alone, although it may feel that way, there is always someone to talk to. I don’t know if anyone will read this post, or care in fact, but if I can just help one person open up and say something is not right, then I have succeeded. And if you know anyone who may be going through a tough time, let them know that you are there – don’t force them to open up but just support them and let them know they are important. Mental health is not a weakness, or a flaw, and it is not anything to be ashamed of. I know that now and I hope you do too.
If you would like to know any more information about anxiety and depression, please check out these links:
Be sure to check out Mombie Diaries Campaign!