This is a bit scary to put out there as it’s the first time I’ve spoken properly about my struggles to people I know that aren’t my family and closest friends. And I have a bad habit of oversharing so this is probably going to be too detailed. But today is World Mental Health Day so what better day to start speaking about it. I want to break the stigma attached to it and fight for what I believe in – that mental health problems should be treated equally to physical health problems
In 2011 I started struggling with mental health problems for the first time. I was struggling with self esteem and developed eating problems and started to self harm. Everything was quite superficial at first but things soon developed – I was fasting without food for days, weighing myself multiple times a day, self harming deeper and started planning my suicide. Back then I thought I was at my worst but it was only the very beginning.
Things have developed since then and I now live with panic attacks, self harm urges, suicide thoughts, social anxiety, psychosis, a personality disorder and schizoaffective bipolar disorder. I’m not going to lie, it’s a living hell a lot of the time and it has cost me friendships, jobs, education and more. I’ve ended up in A&E many times from suicide attempts and psychotic episodes, tried counselling, tried so many different combinations of medications, been under various mental health teams such as the community and home treatment teams and given therapy a go but I’m still struggling greatly.
This year has been the worst, I’ve been in and out of hospital as an impatient 3 times, broke up with my boyfriend of almost 2 years, have dropped out of both college and university all in one year. My worst episode was nothing like I’d experienced before, I got the manic side of bipolar and became incredibly psychotic and was doing things completely unlike me, I ended up being sectioned in hospital.
But despite all this I am still here, still fighting and as cheesy as it sounds I couldn’t of done it without the support and help from my family, closest friends, the psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors, mental health nurses and care assistants and even other people such as the employment specialist who would take me out for coffee and cake. Little things do help brighten the darkest days.
I’m lucky, I’ve been listened to and am getting help, but this is not to say I haven’t had my struggles. At first I was not sick enough, if I didn’t have a suicide intent I wasn’t deemed ill enough, or reaching out but not being underweight or having deeper cuts. I found my local crisis team did not listen to me, were rude and made things worse, so much so that I refuse to speak to them now. There are others still struggling to get any help or who are hiding in secret like I did for the first few years of my struggles. But the help is out there, if not in professionals then in family or friends and it’s so important that you seek help before things get worse.
This has taken me lots of courage to post but I want to break the stigma and show there is no shame in talking about mental health. Almost all of us have had struggles in one way or another so I encourage you to speak up and start a conversation. Together we can fight the stigma.