As many of you will already be aware, mental illness is not straightforward. You may be experiencing a decline in your mental health for the first time at the age of 40. You may be like myself, 23 years old and recovering after god knows how many relapses. One thing is certain however, it takes strength to come out well on the other side.
Now I’m going to discuss my journey – and not in an ‘xfactor’ send me to the live shows sort of way! Believe me, what I’m about to write is a big deal for me as its something that doesn’t come naturally but I feel its important to gain insight into my experiences.
I personally think I was born with mental illness. I remember being a tiny girl in primary school and feeling the ‘horrible tummy’ as I would call it. Waking up with dread at the prospect of leaving my house and seeing so many people at school. I would actually make myself sick with worry sometimes just in case I got told off. I didn’t know what for but just the idea of it frightened me. I knew how I felt wasn’t ‘normal’, I’d often try to go to sleep so I didn’t feel scared or sad for a while and looking back what an awful way to live.
Don’t get me wrong, I had an ace childhood and an amazing family! I played with ‘Crazy bones’ and ‘Furbys’, I watched Tracey Beaker and often when my brothers weren’t around I’d sneak my favourite film on – The mummy. Despite this I could never shake off this feeling of sadness and the horrible thoughts that came with it and the biggest worry was my parents ever finding out, after all I was a child that didn’t understand what was happening, all I knew is I didn’t want to make my Mum sad.
Just look how long ago that was – Anybody can suffer with MI.
My mum noticed being the wonderful mother that she is and long story short after some struggles I eventually saw a great doctor that supported me over many years. Since that day the doctors has been a constant in my journey, as well as anti depressant medication. Now I know meds are taboo but why should they be? I’ve been on them for many years and without them I probably wouldn’t of made it past my teenage years. Not because they’re addictive (believe me I hated taking them) but because my body and brain needed the Serotonin. I’ve been on around 6 different ones, it took around 10 years to find the right one so if your struggling, don’t give up! I think of them as though I’m taking a multi vitamin, not harmful yet help my body to work the best it can by providing my body with something it needs.
I have been told I’ll be on meds for the rest of my life, and you know what – that’s okay. If I had a physical illness and needed long-term medication nobody would bat an eyelid so why is this any different? Now this is my journey and so I’m skimming through it, after all this isn’t an essay but a blog and there is a point (I swear). Through high school, college and university I’ve relapsed. Not everyone is supportive but many are. I’ve had multiple CBT courses, an inpatient stay in a mental health ward, countless run ins with the crisis team and my most recent relapse last year was my worst.
Spoiler alert but I made it. You’ve probably guessed as I’m typing a blog but I made it through and something changed in me. Instead of hiding what id been through, instead of hating myself for my struggles and instead of lying to EVERYONE about how I felt, I decided I’d had enough. I saw Time to Change and their website and made a pledge to be kinder to myself and to help rid stigma attached to mental illness. I’ve campaigned online, attended Story Camp in London, met some amazing people but most of all survived to tell the tale.
This Isn’t the end. I want to take it further. My dream is to introduce Mental health into the educational curriculum because no child should feel as isolated and scared as I did. Oh and by the way. After fighting all my life, last month I was finally discharged from my mental health doctor and shocked isn’t the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days and most likely will repalse agin but Im trying to live my life to the fullest regardless. Im open to my loved ones and know they will support me if and when that dreaded time comes and I know I’ll get through it again. Anybody reading this that may struggle – you can do it, I’m proof of that.
It’s okay to suffer with mental illness and its okay to talk
ps. Thank you to my beautiful family for your love and support