Mental Health and Me - My Story


Mental health problems are now becoming widely acknowledged in the UK. There is still a big stigma around it and a lot of people experience discrimination. I have experienced my fair share of abuse over the years because of the way I felt. Looking back now, even though I only sought help for my mental health at 22, but I believe I suffered way before that. Possibly starting in my teens. This is my story.

I remember when I first started high school, I was nervous, but what kid wasn't? Only five of my friends from primary school went to my high school with me, it wasn't our feeder school so it seemed more daunting possibly than normal. I kind of settled in and made new friends, but this is when social media was just taking off (the gold old MSN, Bebo and Piczo days!) so it wasn't long before I experienced name calling at school and on social media. I wasn't one of the popular girls, I wanted to actually study and do something with my life but I felt increasingly anxious and paranoid about being at school. I wasn't in a lot of classes my friends were in which didn't help, I did try and be friends with the other people in my classes but they all seemed to already have their friendship circles. I started to want to be one of the popular girls so I made sure I had the correct brands, the right make up, etc but nothing was ever good enough! I remember I was that anxious at school I used to make a list of homework, for example, then I'd make another list for that list, and another for that, etc. It was getting way out of hand! On top of all that, there was the usual high school bickering with friends, or when your crush found out you liked them, etc. I believe high school triggered my anxiety but I was able to handle it.

When I left school, I thought everything would have got better. It did slightly. I started to work and study along with making new friends along the way, but again, boyfriend break ups and even experiencing being bullied as an adult from someone I went to school with made me feel worthless and depressed. I remember crying quite a lot and being moody but I told anyone who asked me what was wrong that I was just tired.

When I was 19 years old going on 20, my mum and dad decided to go their separate ways. Even though I was an adult at this age, I still lived at home and found this really difficult to cope with and couldn't understand what was going on. I believe at this point, some people tried to take advantage of the state I was in and tried to turn me against my parents, but even though I was angry and upset, this didn't happen. I'll never forget one evening I decided to go to a friends house, a friend I have known since I was 3 years old. I cried all the way there, and when I got to his house and told him how I was feeling, he told me to get a grip and get over it. I felt so stupid and felt a big lump in my throat, so I quickly left and walked around for a while trying to get my head together before heading home. One person I really need to thank for keeping my mind off things during this period is my friend Steffan (if you're reading this, I really appreciated our walks / chats / even having a wee drink!).

Between my mum and dad splitting up and October 2013 when I was 22 - I think my mental health was manageable. Nothing really sticks out as a trigger during this period. I knew deep down there was something wrong with my head but I was too scared to tell anyone.

In October 2013, I was sexually assaulted, I don't want to go into what happened again, but I started to descend on a slippery slope. In the January of the next year, I decided to see the doctor and this triggered about 2 years worth of medication and therapies for depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD. I had intensive EMDR therapy which has "cured" my PTSD. I'm now able to cope with going on public transport, speaking to older men and even seeing my attacker who lives nearby.

I'm not going to lie, I have had blips since 2015. Deep down, I don't think my anxiety or depression will ever go away properly (my OCD is only slight so has no major effect on me). But something changed that in June this year. A comment was made about me and for some reason this triggered a chain of panic attacks, insomnia and severe anxiety. I went to the doctor, who at first gave me some sleeping pills, but I was scared to take them as I had to drive in the morning. Eventually, one Wednesday in July I had a total breakdown. My mum phoned the doctors but I couldn't speak to them as I was hysterical. I managed to get an emergency appointment, and I was put on beta blockers to help with panic attacks and enrolled onto a stress class to help with my anxiety (it was really great!). The pills worked for a while, then they had to be upped to a higher dosage but for some reason this made my panic attacks and sleeping problems worse. I'm now back on my low dose of beta blockers, amitriptyline to help me sleep at night if I have issues and I also had acupuncture sessions every Saturday with the lovely Dr Liang for a while too. Along with trouble with sleeping, my memory has taken a plunge and I'm forgetting things quite a lot which actually scares me.

I think I have a long way to go, but I don't think I'll ever get rid of this foggy cloud in my head. I do believe that even though I need to live alongside my mental health problems, I need to remember that a bad day doesn't mean I have a bad life!

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