Telling your mum you’re not well

As my mum has just created her very own blog over at Proud Mumma Bear, I thought I would write a post which I’ve been meaning to do for some time: how to tell your mum, dad, brother, sister, other half, friend – anyone – that you’re not well.

I get so many comments, tweets and emails discussing how open I am with my mum about all the issues that I have. I get messages like ‘How do you do it?‘ and ‘I wish I could be that open‘ all the time.

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I haven’t always been that way, but I love that I am now. I had a lot of problems as a teenager and if I could disguise them and ‘put on a brave face’, that’s what I did. I felt like I was being silly and I thought it was easier to just get on with it on my own.

These days of course I don’t really have a choice but to tell her about my agoraphobia, because it’s hard to fake leaving the house when I spend a weekend with her, but I do  tell her the rest as well. I tell her about the highs, the lows, the risks I’ve taken and then regretted, and all the other messy bits to my mental health, or lack there of it. I do this because for me, it’s nice to have someone unconditionally on my side.

But parents seem to be the one limitation that a lot of you have when it comes to sharing your own mental health experiences. So often I hear bloggers say that they have to remain anonymous because the fear of their parents seeing what they’ve written is too much, and even those that do have faces are often anxious at the idea of mum or dad discovering their writing.

I’m not here to say whether or not that’s right or wrong. If keeping your problems away from some of the people you love – for their sake or yours – is the best thing to do, then carry on. You know yourself and what is good for you better than anyone else. I also appreciate that not everyone’s mum is like my mum, and some people feel misunderstood and stigmatised in their own homes, making it much harder to be open.

Additionally on the flip side, it can also be damaging towards the parent. I know that my mum loses sleep over me and my problems constantly. She’s always stressed and worried because she wants me to be as happy and healthy as humanly possible, and none of us want to be a ‘burden’, which is another reason we often downplay our troubles.

But what I will say is that if you have a strong desire to tell someone what’s going on in your life – do it and just trust that they care about you as much you do them.

And this doesn’t mean you have to go into vast detail if you don’t want to. I don’t necessarily explain how bad some situations are to my mum. I might say ‘I’m feeling depressed at the moment‘, but that doesn’t mean I have to go into anymore detail than that. What it does mean though, is that I know she’s there, ready to come and rescue me if I need her.

If you want to tell somebody, find a way no matter how hard that is. There is always something you can do to make it easier for you; you just have to figure out what it is.

For me, when I’m sad or scared I find it incredibly hard to speak. When I’m face to face with someone my mind goes completely blank and no words come out. So whenever it has come to telling my mum something important in the past, I have left her a note or a letter.

Sometimes these have been rather amusing in hindsight, like telling her that my boyfriend when I was fifteen had a three-year old child, or that the boyfriend before that was in a youth offenders prison, but I have also told her about family abuse and deep depressions I’ve suffered through letters.

It may not work for everyone, but it works for us.

I love how open we are. It makes my life so much easier to be able to share with my mum. And sure, sometimes I feel guilty because I know it upsets her, but I know she’d be more upset if she knew I didn’t feel like I could come to her.

If you need someone to share your battle with, then take the first step and make it happen!

Guest Post by Fryn Lane – BPD & Creativity

Recently I’ve decided to feature some guests here on my blog to showcase some other people’s troubles with mental health. Here we have Fryn Lane who talks about having EUPD/BPD, and how she uses creativity as a way of managing it. Please check out her blog by clicking here.

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Hi, I’m Fryn, I’m 22 years old and I have recurrent depression as a result of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, also known as Borderline Personality Disorder. This has quite a big impact on my daily functioning; my feelings are very intense. Relationships with me can be intense at times no matter how hard I try to curtail it. My boyfriend Joe has his own mental health problems (we click because we have good mutual understanding and empathy) and it is very tricky to manage our individual problems alongside supporting one another. I also have extreme self-loathing, and a constant stream of self-critical thoughts narrating my every day.

One of the key ways I cope with my mental illness is through creativity. I am currently recovering from a depressive episode that hit back in November 2014. It’s been a long time, and keeping me as sane as possible have been my many creative outlets. When, in November, my depression was at its worst, I could not function. I could not think, I could not cope. At this point, I was not creative. I went into Hobbycraft, my favourite shop, to find a new project. For the first time, nothing inspired me, I felt broken. Where was the creative spark I relied upon to get me through? I left the shop in tears.

It was not until a few months later, as the depression was beginning to lift, that my creative ‘spark’, or energy, came back. My creativity is a huge part of my identity and helps me define who I am in my murky sea of moving goalposts and slipping standards. I love being creative, and with a diagnosis of EUPD, with my intense emotions I have a lot of feeling to pour into what I create. I need to feel something strongly in order to create, and the EUPD helps with that! I only ever feel things strongly!

What I do creatively really varies. I go through phases and bore easily so what you see me working on one week will not be the same as what I work on the week after. I paint, I crochet, I design and sew cross stitch, I bake, I cook new things, I draw, I colour, I make things with clay, I build things and I make a mess. I get stuck in, I rip up paper for collages, I use pastels, paint, pencils, felt tips, I write I craft I create. It varies based on my mood, I never plan my future creations, and as I say I go through phases. I’m no real artist; perhaps it is my low self-esteem talking but I often make something and then wish to destroy it straight away. I often detest what I have created, but equally sometimes I feel I have created something truly beautiful.

My favourite at the moment is colouring in (the adult colouring book craze that’s hit the UK is amazing! Seriously, there are so many designs and books to choose from, it’s brilliant!) I often get frustrated with my own drawing inability, so to colour a pre-drawn design feels really therapeutic. It’s great for mindfulness, and you can really express your emotions through the colours you choose. I have stuck all my pictures on my wall to cheer me up; the images I coloured when more depressed used darker, foreboding colours yet my more recent stuff is multi coloured and fun – It’s a visual log of my progress in escaping this depressive episode. And it’s great to pick up and do when I feel a bit stressed out.

I have also been making clay figures that express my emotions from air drying clay. The process of mixing paints and decorating the models, as well as squishing the clay in my fingers is really calming. I can be making models for hours and not notice the time passing. Which is great; because I’m not able to work at the moment being creative keeps my mind active. Someday perhaps when I am better and more able I hope to embark on a creative career, too. My creativity comes hand in hand with my mental illness, and I’d never manage without the release for my emotions and the structure it provides for my day.

Guest Post by Brendan Farrell – The First Step is Not The Hardest

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 Brendan Farrell who talks about his journey with anxiety and depression, and how running has helped rid him of his demons. Please check out his blog by clicking here.

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There are so many motivational quotes over the years that compare achieving goals to some sort of uphill task, a mountain or a series of steps. While this comparison works for some people to a large extent, my experience with anxiety and depression can somewhat be the opposite of this. Why? Because that top step is where I sat, in the middle of the night, dozens of times because I couldn’t sleep. I was deeply depressed. That is the hardest point. The loneliness is overwhelming. Every house noise and creek comes with huge hope that it’s someone getting up to help. It never was. Who gets up at half 3 in the morning? Other days those steps would be climbed immediately after work. This was for the sole purpose of lying on the bed not to be around anyone, feeling absolutely numb. So that top step didn’t represent anything positive.

It was the bottom step that did. That bottom step means you’re willing to be around people. It means you can get out and be with the world. Not alone. It shows courage, passion and a desire to give it everything to get through it. And you will.

My name is Brendan Farrell. I’m 31 and from Templeogue in Dublin. I have been working in finance since 2006. It’s deadline, accuracy, bureaucracy and fear driven and the reason I suffered from anxiety and depression. I initially loved working full-time and earning a salary. At 22 there was a large element of innocence and naivety which wasn’t recognised at the time. Getting the job in the first place meant a lot. How times have changed. After 2 years there, some friends were spending a year in Australia (a very common thing for an Irish person in their 20’s). They had been gone a few months when things started to become very stressful in the job. At this point, physical fitness was very low. I weighed 15 stone and running for the bus was an issue (I’ll get back to this later. Turns out these are quite important points).

This started to affect my sleep and confidence in the ability to do my job. It clouded my brain completely. I began to get extremely nervous at the thought of going in, being around all those people, not being able to understand the work and completely obsessed with getting a good sleep. This carried on until I decided to pack it in and join my friends in Australia. I spent 6 of the best months of my life there. We got a point where there was a choice between going to New Zealand or going home. The budget was another issue so returning home was the path chosen.

A month after returning I was to start work again in the same office. I knew deep down that it didn’t sit right. The night before I started, the tears rolled down my face from the pure nerves. Things kicked off. Like a tonne of bricks. Therapists, tablets, hypnotherapy, coming off anti-depressants cold turkey and having crippling panic attacks, loneliness and silence. A long course of CBT chipped away at the negativity and the clouds slowly but surely began to clear. I won’t dwell too much on the CBT because it wasn’t the only factor in my recovery.

At this time, another tonne of bricks hit me. Except it was one of the most positive of my life. I trained for and completed a 5 mile charity run. I got a huge sense of satisfaction from it. I got hooked. The feeling of having a clear head was hugely relaxing. There’s a science behind it. Exercise releases endorphins which reduce stress. It’s that simple. Plus with physical fitness comes mental fitness. To tell you the truth, you wouldn’t believe the impact it can have. Some days when I get pissed off, I go running. It feels like taking on whatever is pissing me off and smashing it to pieces. It’s amazing.

So I took up a spinning class for a few months. This is a tough form of exercise but so effective. I went into it with still a low level of fitness. I didn’t care. What’s the point in thinking like that? Everyone knows there is a reason you’re there. People often say to me, “Oh I won’t be able to keep up”, or “I’d be petrified of how I’d look”. Who cares? What’s gonna happen if you can’t keep up? Nothing. You went. You feel great and you’ll do it again because you’ve got the heart for it. Once you see the fitness levels increase, that’s my nicotine. I lost 3 stone doing it.

I have also found a huge comradery in running. The people are the best part. The support from onlookers as you plough through the streets of a town or city is enormous. There is nothing but positivity in races, online groups, running clubs. I just wanted to be involved. Last September I ran my first marathon. It meant so much that I remember the date and my race time to the second. I erupted into tears but I thought about the first time I did that in this whole process. The night before I started work after Australia.

There are many other things I have achieved but I would hate for this to be a self obsessive article. That’s not me. I simply want to highlight the importance of physical fitness in mental wellbeing. I want to help. Somebody asked me recently what my ideal job would be if money was no issue at all? I immediately said it would be owner of an athletics club. Imagine the amount of people you could help. That’s the dream.

Right now I don’t have depression. I don’t see myself ever having it again. But I will never forget it. It made me the person I am today. Strong, physically fit and happy. I love people and being with my family and friends. After reading this, some people might think why am I still working in that office today? The truth is that I won’t be for much longer. I’m changing careers. I’ve been trying to change jobs for a few weeks now. It’s long, tedious and there are days that it gets the better of me. It still makes me nervous but I have running. I have cycling. I have boot camp. If I didn’t have them, things would be a lot different.

So what is my actual message here? Don’t ever EVER be afraid of that bottom step. Don’t look up and say, “look how much I have to do”. Always look straight ahead, grit your teeth and do it. Achieve something. Absolutely anything. Run a mile. Join a gym. Prepare and have a healthy meal. After that ALWAYS look back and smile at what you have done. If you did that, then why can’t you do everything else?

Exactly. There is no reason and there never will be.

Thank you so much for reading.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any advice.

Guest Post by Matthew Malin – My nightmares give the boogeyman tremors deep within his soul

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 Matthew Malin who talks about his journey with depression, anxiety and getting the help that has made him who he is today. Please check out his blog by clicking here.

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Photo taken from Matthew’s Instagram page – mattyb1213

It is within my opinion that loneliness is the chauffer of the limousine labeled “Depression”.  Loneliness becomes the ghost of your past, present, and future pressing on your mind during the day and haunting you while you sleep. It is always there to remind you that you are the only one sad…that you are the only one going through your individual circumstance.  It becomes the demon of your nightmares. It stalks the hallways of your heart looking for any chance it can take to strike at your deepest level. You may tell it to let you out of the car here but I guarantee you it will ignore your request and abandon you in the darkest recesses of your mind. Loneliness is a vindictive killer.

 My individual struggle with depression, anxiety, and loneliness began four years ago. I was in the midst of a new adventure seeking out new paths when betrayal struck my heart. It was not painless. It was not an “in your face” affair. It was silent, subtle, and it severed the chords of my heart. To place so much trust in a person only to have them break your heart an instant does damage that is hardly reparable. This was the beginning of my nightmare.

Over the course of time I allowed anger and bitterness to rule my heart. I forsook the godly notion of forgiveness and in turn turned my back on God. The slow burn of hatred filled my heart and it was not long until I had fallen into the deep pit of depression. My heart became cold and vacant. Under no circumstances would I allow anyone in. Why should I have? People got me into this mess so I hell bent on making sure they didn’t do it again. It was here that I bought into the lie of loneliness. It came to me like a thief in the night and whispered, “No one cares”. Sadly, I fell for loneliness’ trick. No one asked if I was ok. No one noticed that I was angry. Most importantly, no one noticed how badly I had been hurt. I had all of the evidence that I needed. No one cared.

I found myself lying in bed one evening hoping that the sun would stay away. The room was black and I could barely see in front of me. Despite these things I had the odd feeling that there were presences in my room…Waiting…Hovering. I heard whispers of suicide. They told me that I would be “better off dead”. These things…these voices…they swept through my mind as if they were only here for one purpose. They wanted me to die.

I survived the darkest night of my life but it was not without consequence. I held on to this memory and carried it with me. Thankfully, in a short manner of time I found hope and recovery. God gave me the ability to forgive those who had wronged me and I was finally able to be free.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, depression doesn’t just end there. It’s not just a circumstantial emotion…it’s a disease that rots your heart. I have spent the past four years experiencing heartbreak, broken trust, and misleading intentions. People have come into my life and expertly walked out all the while taking my heart with them. Is it my fault? Should I have given them so much? Honestly, these are questions that will erode my mind for the rest of time. One thing that I do know amidst all of this is that despite my feelings of being alone, I indeed was one of many.

It was only until recently that my anxiety took over my heart. My first panic attack came at the hands of fear. I remember shaking uncontrollably, crying, and begging God to make the pain go away. I couldn’t think straight. My mind was a highway and every which way was a new car wreck begging for attention. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to get help…

I spent the next two months in a counselor’s office detailing every piece of my heart from the past four years.  Each meeting was a test, a test of my motivation to get better. I had to be honest, I had to be transparent, and I had to hear the painful truth.  Five months later I can honestly say that I am better. I’m not completely healed but I am better. Forward progress is better than no progress at all I always say.

Why do I tell you all of this? I mean, you and I are practically strangers. Why should I let anyone in on my secret? Honestly it’s because I have wandered around in the darkest pits of my heart and made it out alive (barely).  Having been through all of this I have been made aware of an undying need of encouragement to those like me. People who are struggling just as much (if not more) than I did (and do) need to know that they are not alone.

Depression is a thief, a murderer, and it only seeks to take the most precious piece of life away from you. It wants your joy. There really isn’t anything I can say that would help you feel better but I know that if you’re anything like me you just need a friend. Someone who can just simply let you know that everything will be ok even when it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve seen God do miracles in my own heart and I know that he can do the same for you. I sincerely hope you have found some type of encouragement through my story. My heart is for you and it is with you in your battle.

Never give up.

I know what to write about!

For the longest time now I’ve really wanted to write a book. At the start of every new year when the clock strikes twelve, I think ‘This is it. This is the year I’ll finally do it‘, but I struggle for ideas or somebody else gets there first with the ideas I do have.

It’s really important to me that I write something that people actually want to read. It’s been such a long time coming that if I’m going to do it, I really want to do it properly and make a success of it. I only ever dream big. I don’t see the point in starting something if it’s only going to be mediocre.

I want to be proud of what I do, and write about something that matters to me. I want to make a little bit of a difference in people’s lives, which I hope I also sometimes manage to do here on my blog. Those wishes are quite a tall order though, so year after year I sit here thinking ‘nope, still not good enough‘.

But now, finally, I think I’ve got it. I think I know what I want to write about.

I don’t want to reveal too much as of yet. But what I will say is that it will be mental health based, very personal to me featuring never seen diary entries from my childhood, uplifting and hopefully appealing to many of you on your journeys.

After my bad day yesterday, I really needed some excitement – although I do have to admit, I’m pretty sure the bad day gave me the inspiration, so I guess I should be thankful.

Tools (2015)

If we let them, our troubles will wrap us up and destroy us; parts of us will break and fly away. But there are always tools – even if they’re not right in front of us – to cut the bad out of our lives.

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Tools (26th July 2015) Watercolour & Ink. ©

Free Hand, Sheffield

Today I interviewed Charly from Free Hand in Sheffield. Free Hand offers creative workshops for people struggling with anxiety and depression, as a way to help them express themselves. It’s an amazing organisation and honestly the more I’ve got to know the woman behind it, the more I want it to succeed! Regardless of where you are in the world, I would highly recommend you check out Free Hand’s blog, twitter and facebook page.

You can find the full interview below.

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Ok so firstly, the dreaded question nobody likes (sorry!), tell me a little bit about you. Why did Free Hand start and where did the idea come from?
I’m Charly, I’m 27 and have lived with depression since my teens. I started the journey towards this I guess by studying A levels in subjects I didn’t really like, just because I had no idea what I was going to do with my life at 16. After a year of doing something I didn’t like a friend suggested fashion. I joined the course and fell in love, I went on to study photography and then did a degree in fashion. After I finished my degree I started to have panic attacks, while doing my MA. The creative process really helped me to work through a lot of stuff and find my confidence again. I set up my own label but after nearly two years of running it I realised it wasn’t making me happy anymore so I started to think about what I really wanted to do and that was to create a supportive community for people living with depression and anxiety. Art had always been a help to me so I believed I could use what I had learned to help other people. Wow long answer!

Good answer though – you’re like my soul sister, I love it haha! Do you think the sessions really do help people then? Have you had good feedback about them?
Yay! I do! I’ve gotten good feedback but I’m always looking for different things to do and ways to improve the workshops. It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day things and not make times for activities that are really good for your mental health. Much like exercise actually, I think creativity no matter what skill level is just as important. Even if you don’t feel like it just coming and playing around with ideas can turn a bad day into a good one.

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I couldn’t agree more – all anyone has to do when I’m having a bad day is put a paintbrush in my hand and I’m golden! It must be such a nice feeling for you as well to know that you’re doing something that can help someone else feel good even if just for a moment. Do you think it’s helped your anxiety and depression to a certain extent as well?
Yea, I was going to say it really helps me, it makes me stay motivated and creative. I love it when Wednesday rolls around I’m just excited about sharing and meeting people.

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It’s nice that you’re so enthusiastic still after six months of doing it. It just shows that you made the right decision when you decided to do it in the first place. It does sound like a lot of work though, especially if you’re always seeking ways of improving the workshops. Is it just you that runs them or is there a team of you?
Haha, it is quite a lot of work I want to do the best I can! It’s just me but I collab with Designing Out Suicide every 6 weeks so that is really nice; I’m always looking to get people with different skills in to co run a workshop. I have amazing supportive friends that help out but sometimes it is a lot, but I love what I do so it mostly gives me energy!

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Did I see that you come with themes and stuff for the workshops too? I think I saw something about masks – that sounds like a great way of firstly creating even more work for yourself haha, but secondly keeps it interesting and different for the people who turn up.
Well, when I first started I just had a few activity ideas and art supplies. I thought people could just work on whatever they wanted! This turned out to be a bit over-facing so the themes make it more approachable, and the option to free style is alway there.

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Oh ok I see what you mean, it’s a bit daunting being told you can do anything you like sometimes without anybody giving you any ideas! Do you have any cool projects or themes lined up then?
Nothing set in stone, but I’m hoping to get an exhibition of works together that’s a snapshot of mental health. I’ve also been talking to people involved in an environmental project about doing a photography trip there. I’d also love to go back and further explore escapism as a theme.

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It all sounds really exciting – I’ll be definitely keeping track of your journey. If you could sum up Free Hand in three words, what would they be?
Supportive, creative and judgement free!

Just one last question and I’m done! Do you regret any of it? If you could back to the beginning and focus on the fashion instead, would you?
No, everything that has happened has resulted in who I am and that door is always open.

Please click on the links below to be taken to Charly’s social media pages and if you’re in or around Sheffield – go and check Free Hand out!
www.freehandcreative.wordpress.com
www.facebook.com/freehandsheffield?fref=ts
www.twitter.com/FreeHandSheff/

What do you need?

Earlier on, I got into a Twitter discussion with a healthcare provider in Leeds; asking me what it is that I want/need from mental health services in the area.

My answers consisted of shorter waiting lists, more tailored care to the individual, and how treatment should aim to give people the tools and skills to manage their problems effectively.

But they’re just my answers, and now I’m curious to see what you guys think. Is there anything that you think is more important? And not neccessarily in just standard talking therapies, but is there anything else in day-to-day life as well that you think would make your time with mental illness easier?

I look forward to your answers – there aren’t any wrong ones!

Bully

Recently I’ve just started thinking of my brain as one big bully that I can’t shake off –

to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

Everything is going well in my life at the moment. I’m happy in terms of my friends and family, I’ve just moved in with my boyfriend and generally things are just going well for me. Yet my brain still won’t lay off with the anxiety.

My anxiety is everywhere, everyday, all the time. I always have a fear of being trapped, and for me that can manifest in situations that you wouldn’t even associate with ever being trapped. A closed door, lining up in a queue, walking through a busy crowd, climbing up stairs until you reach the top of the building – everywhere, everyday, all the time.

I am twenty-three years old and I have not had an anxiety-free/depression-free day since I was around fourteen. I missed out on my entire teenage years – I don’t even slightly look back on them fondly, they were horrific – and now it’s carrying on through into my twenties.

I have had enough. I should be having fun. I shouldn’t be happy in my own house but then petrified the second I step out into the real world. I should be able to go and see places and do things. I should be able to do whatever I want rather than what my brain restricts me on.

Stop it brain. Stop making my life so damn difficult. Let me live the way I want to.

Guest Post by Jessica Jayne – My Mental Health Journey

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.

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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.