Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and I really wanted to do a post however due to my 21st Birthday being yesterday as well I didn’t want to write this post because I was unsure how emosh it was all going to get! Besides Mental Health deserves more than one day of recognition anyway! Where the hell do I begin on this massive subject?
Mental Health is such a personal and massive thing for every individual that sometimes it so hard to understand, especially when we are hardly taught anything about it. Mental Illness is so much more than feeling depressed and low, its anxiety, its pressure, its stress, it’s hard, it’s bravery, its eating disorders, it’s personality disorders, it’s loss, it’s something that happens for no flipping apparent reason, it just is.
As mental health is such an individual thing, I for the first time, want to share my own story. And this is a reason to why I personally believe the way we deal with mental health as a society, as a nation, as humans is absolutely sh*t.
I first went to counselling for family problems when I was aged 9/10. And it was obviously a lot different to adult counselling so imagine holding up different faces on cards etc and saying this means happy, this means sad, this makes me happy blah blah. Now fast forward to secondary school and I am around 13 and something is just not right, I just can’t stop crying at night. So I go to the doctors and I get referred to acorn house who tell me “You’re just a teenager, everything will work out!” and that was it. No follow ups, nothing. That’s when I first start dating Alex, aged 14. Something is still not right but I really do not get it. I am so happy with the kid, he’s my first boyfriend, first love, but yet something is just not right! I am still crying every night that I am not with him, I still somehow feel unwanted although he’s going out of his way to make me feel loved. So I just break up with him. And then I feel worse. Around this time my Mum’s friend Michie is taking my brother (who has now been diagnosed with anxiety) to the doctors (although did not get this outcome for around a year after when an ambulance had to be called after he had a severe panic attack!) for mental health. And she asked me if I had similar feelings which actually I did! BACK to the doctors we go! Mental Health? Nah “just hormones”.
After this I decided to tell Alex what was going on in my head and we got back together, now I’ve just got to say although Alex is a tw*t he did however do things for me throughout our relationship that not many people are age had to do. Our chats weren’t the normal 14/15-year-old conversations, we spoke about hurting and self harm, we spoke about suicide, we spoke about my past, we just spoke about everything. I had night’s at his house that I would just sob on his chest. I’ve had times after our relationship that he was the only person I spoke too, when my mum was first diagnosed, when Mikey committed suicide, and just when I was having what I like to call ‘mini breakdowns’. For someone who was not directly affected by Mental Health and Illness he was personally affected through me. So for that I apologise but would also like to drop a little thank you. Also I know how much you will hate me for that picture so muhahaha.
So things are still not right! I go through some stuff at school e.g. being a lesbian apparently and I go to the magical doctors AGAIN to be told it was hormones AGAIN and this time I get put on the pill as a way to help “balance” me out! I am also going through counselling at school at this point which is affecting my school work as it’s the same time every week so I am missing History constantly and at my GCSE years this is not great. So I am falling behind on a lot of work and I am really struggling because sometimes I can’t even get out of bed let alone concentrate on work. One day the school counselor has a deep chat with me and actually physically starts crying! Yep crying! Because she feels sorry for me! How unprofessional!!
I then go to the doctors AGAIN to finally be given an actual mental health exam!! And it comes back that I have depression and mild anxiety! sorted? battle over? “Because of your age however there’s not really much we can do as your kind of in an in-between age, too young for us to want to prescribe anything, too old for the counselling which we think will suit you so just stay what you’re doing at school.” Wow. Thank you guys. The next day I go back to school and I am not going to say her name but if you went to my school I am sure you’d know what female biology teacher did this if you were in the class with me on this day or not. She had set a homework the day before and I obviously wasn’t there because I was at the doctors, now this is not the stone-age. At school we have a thing called sims where the teachers have actually all been notified what was going on with me personally so she knew. So when she made me stand up in front of the whole f*cking class to ask why I did not have the homework I nervously said that I was at the doctors. So with her professional self she then took me out of the class to enquire more, and by that I mean she stood me in the door way with the door wide open, the class silent for me to explain why I went to the doctors. And what was her delightful reply I hear you ask? “Well this is really going to affect my marking.”
I am going to extra English lessons on my own now to keep up and one day after a history lesson Coppers (my amazing history teacher) asks me to stay behind, a little worried I stay whilst everyone goes on break. Now this guy was hilarious and lets just say the king of banter, an emotional person? Definitely not! “Uh I heard what happened the other day… and I just wanted to say if you are stuck finding people to talk too.. like… I’m sure you have other options but I am. What I am trying to say is… my door is open.” And Mr Copestake if you ever somehow read this, thank you so much because that honestly meant the world to me. And I know how awkward that was for you.
I just really could not cope.
“I heard she’s like depressed? But how can she be? Like she smiles loads!”
Now I can’t cope with classes, I am actually skipping school, or I am in Student Support. That’s when I really started to love Ffion Ingram. Ffion Ingram was one of the most kindest girls at school. When everyone else dropped me for being a “Suicidal Bitch” (yep that’s why it was my twitter handle all of those years ago) she literally did not care! She sat with me almost everyday in SS and made little button hearts and light conversation with me and again thank you!
But things were getting worse, I wrote letters to everyone to say sorry, I was ready to die. I dropped out of school and lived at my dads for a couple of weeks, I had attendance officers trying to work with my parents but nobody understood and the ones which did had no cure or fix to offer. I had friends like Henry Hudson who messaged me everyday to ask me to come back and that it would be ok but he was in the year below and I still felt so alone. Nathan Nunes came to my house a few times to try to get me to come to school and get out of bed. My head of year at the time said to me, and he never ever spoke to me before this mind, nor did he even pronounce my name correctly. “I heard you want to work with children, well if you drop out now you will never ever be able to do that. You will be lucky to get a job in McDonald’s.” First of can I just say HA I AM A QUALIFIED TEACHING ASSISTANT YOU INSENSITIVE M*THER F*CKING C*NT. Also why are our teachers not all prepared to deal with mental health properly? The school even sent me a letter to say that if I tried to attend leavers day that I would be escorted off of the premises like I had been excluded or something!
When my mum was diagnosed with Cancer naturally my mental illness got put on hold and my main focus was her. I went to prom to try to show her I was fine. Now I cant quite bring myself to go into detail about the past as much as I would like but over the past 5 years since I have had some extremely bumpy times. The amount of times that I just wanted, or needed even to give up was ridiculous. The screaming, the crying, the panic attacks around 7 MORE trips to the doctors who just
prescribed pills and no help. I slept in the crem crying wanting to be with Mikey, I have told my Mum who really does not want to hear for obvious reasons that it needed to end. The amount of searching and effort I had put into the perfect ‘get out’ strategy. The guy who literally had to lock me in his room to keep me safe. I had tried anti depressants, CBT, talking to people, everything on the NHS guidelines list, Lets Talk.
Now I would be lying if I said I am cured or that it is all over now because unfortunately it is not. Mental Illness is a
battle that I am still fighting but it is actually one that I am fighting. Along with a lot of other people including my friends. And something needs to change. Something needs to happen and the stigma around mental health needs to end.
I have lost 2 friends due to depression. I have almost lost way more.
And here is the smallest things we can all do to help:
- Do not judge. If medication works for one person it works for them. If CBT works for another it works for them. As I have said Mental Illness is a very personal thing. You can not always know the wrong and right way to handle it.
- You do not know what a person is feeling so do not undermine them no matter how happy they seemed yesterday.
- Sometimes anxiety can stop the little things, do not be angry if they feel worried about making a ‘simple’ phone call. Also the ‘face your fear’ technique isn’t always the best one and can leave that person feeling a lot worse.
- Sometimes you can feel low for no apparent reason so do not get cross if somebody answers “I don’t know” when you ask whats wrong.
- Just be there.
- Have a lot of patience.
- It’s not being needy sometimes you just need to reassure them that you are there and everything is still ok because the way their mind is working they may honestly not realise.
- Don’t pressure.
- Be trustworthy.
- Recognise that they are not being selfish.
- Help push for a diagnosis as you have just read it is flipping hard.
Now on a slightly happier note I can not wait to get my semi-colon Tattoo! The semi-colon means the same as it does in literature, A small pause and a continuation. Because to me and many others that is exactly how I feel fighting my mental illness. I promise my next post will be a little more upbeat and extremely sassy! However this is something that we all need to start talking about and sharing. Due to the stigma around mental health I have been called names to try to make me feel embarrassed but I do not feel embarrassed. On this day (not always) I am feeling strong. And I am urging others to feel strong too and share their stories and show others that they are not alone! Mental Illnesses do not discriminate; anyone no matter who they are can be affected and Its time we all start to get real help and recognition because it is what everyone deserves.