I’ve decided recently to feature some guests here on my blog to showcase some other people’s troubles with mental health. Here we have Jessica Jayne who talks about her journey with with mental health struggles. Please check out her blog by clicking here for more.
I never know how to start these so I’m just going type and see what happens.
Seeing as this is a guest post and you know absolutely nothing about me, I thought I’d tell you about my ‘mental health journey’.
From a very young age my mum knew there was something different about me; at the age of four I was showing signs of depression – which is quite disturbing when you think about it, how can a four year old be depressed? I didn’t have a bad childhood, in fact it was quite the opposite. I was the luckiest child ever, I had parents who loved me and a big brother who I looked up to and who I got along with. We weren’t rich but we definitely weren’t poor; we wanted for nothing and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better upbringing.
However, obviously something in my brain was different to other children around me. I was incredibly insecure for a child worrying about looking like a boy. I didn’t care much for my appearance. I wasn’t a moody child; just extremely quiet and I stayed in my best friend’s shadow. This continued on until my early teens where obviously puberty hit and my hormones were all over the place. I have to admit I don’t know how my parents put up with me; one minute I was happy as anything, the best teen ever. Then next it was like a different person, extremely irritable and hostile.
Things got worse around fifteen – I had a ‘trauma’ that I don’t feel comfortable talking about yet, but let’s just say it had a huge affect on me and I went off the rails. My mood swings were worse than ever, I was erratic and completely horrible to be around, then the next moment I was so affectionate (maybe too affectionate) and as happy as could be. I was definitely putting on a front, and it seemed to be working. I made it through my GCSEs regardless of these “aggressive” bursts that I was experiencing for as long as I could remember.
I described these bursts like short periods of time where every movement felt aggressive and my head was hazy – you probably know what I’m talking about but I’ll go into more detail later. I made it through high school regardless of the numerous “sick days” I took throughout my time there (convincing the school nurse I was ill because I just wanted to go home more than anything) and got into college, after completely shutting down one of my college interviews because my school made us interview for two.
Once in college I got through the first couple of months fine, I made lots of friends and actually enjoyed my classes. However it didn’t take me long to get back into my usual routine of pretending I was ill and going home, or not even going in at all. It got to the point where the college gave me a personal guidance counsellor who repeatedly asked me “is everything okay at home?” to which I replied every time with “if there was a problem at home, wouldn’t I rather be here? You make absolutely no sense, everything is fine at home, that’s why I’d rather be there”. I mastered deleting the answer phone messages they left every day on the home phone before my parents got home; I did it so much that they started ringing my dad’s mobile instead. You’d think they’d of realised there was something else going on but no, my journey kick started when my best friend sat me down and said that she wanted me to go speak to my doctor. I couldn’t thank her enough for doing that, as she has probably saved my life. We don’t speak any more which really upsets me, but she will forever have a special place in my heart.
So I went to see my doctor, who then after we talked decided that I needed to have my blood taken and have all these tests. To put this simply and quickly, over the space of about nine months I was tested for: breast cancer, HIV, diabetes (twice), another form of cancer and a few other things. Literally every time I went in they wanted blood for another test, so I just stopped listening to what they were testing me for.
When finally I got my first mental health diagnosis when they said, “okay, I think you are experiencing depression”. it makes me so angry that they tested me for so many different physical illnesses before they explored mental health. This should not have been the case, especially seeing as they were putting all these life threatening illnesses forward to someone who was already severely depressed. I was then given antidepressants (Citalopram) and Diazepam (I’m not sure what these types of meds are, they just knock me out – apparently it’s a tranquilliser… nice). This was the start of a very long and still ongoing journey.
The next year after this I went through a long journey of different diagnoses’; I kept going back to the doctors because even though I’d been diagnosed with severe depression and put on medication to help it, I wasn’t getting any better and life wasn’t getting any easier. I was in and out of jobs because I’d end up ringing in sick due to the “aggressive bursts”, then never going back. The only job I manage to keep for over a year and a half, I left because I decided it would be a great idea to move across the country to Newcastle for a guy who I’d been with for 3 months who was cheating on me. Safe to say I didn’t move to Newcastle in the end and couldn’t get my job back; this was one of my “highs”.
I kept going back to the doctors, was given therapists who I didn’t get along with so they didn’t help me, and had my meds changed because I was hallucinating like hell! Finally I had a doctor who actually listened to me and helped me understand what was going on – I had an anxiety disorder. Those “aggressive bursts” were actually panic attacks, so when I wondered what the hell was going on and couldn’t breath and everything felt aggressive when I moved, that was me having a panic attack. It makes me wonder why they don’t teach mental health education in school, because I had no idea what was going on, thinking I was dying, and now there was one doctor that could help me understand what I’d been experiencing for years!
After this I was then put forward for therapy again because they were concerned I was Bipolar, due to my mood swings. The conclusion was that because I wasn’t sleeping around, it was just mood swings (I lied, but I didn’t question their stupid method that somehow I fit the diagnosis perfectly apart from one thing and so I wasn’t). I then self diagnosed myself with trichotillomania, because one day my mum had enough of vacuuming hair from the side of the couch and me vacuuming my room so much. I didn’t realise I was pulling my hair until she told me about it; this was about 2 years ago, and it was only this year that I came across Beckie0 on youtube, that I found out that I wasn’t the only one that pulled out my hair. I didn’t have it as severe as others with the condition, but I have had my fair share of bald spots and a very drastic hair cut which made me cry, and I’m still four years on growing out my hair after finally deciding I was ready to let it grow.
I’m conscious this post is extremely long now so I’ll tie it up.
I started my blog because I wanted to be able to get out my thoughts somewhere. I was crap at keeping diaries, and because I already had a youtube account and half my life was online, I thought a blog was the best way to go.
I now work for a mental health charity part time (however off sick at the moment due to new medications because my mental health deteriorated, which you can read more about on my blog), and I volunteer for Mind and Time to Change as much as I can. On my youtube I have a documentary about the realities of mental health in general life and different settings, this is an ongoing series but it is on hold as interest has dwindled.
I am upset that I have relapsed, but at the same time I know my darkness and struggles might help someone else feel less alone, or help them understand their own mental health.
Every cloud has a silver lining and all that crap. Thank you if you have made it this far, you deserve a medal. It’s inspiring to know there are other mental health bloggers out there, and Lauren’s blog is definitely one to read. I am honoured that she has allowed me to be a guest poster on her blog. I never know how to end these things.