Hello and welcome to my blog!
This week is mental health awareness week and I thought today I’d chat a little bit about my history of mental illness and why I think it’s important that we are spreading awareness of mental illness. So, lets get started!
Why does mental health matter?
Let me give you some statistics. These are all from MIND which is a brilliant website for help with mental heath.
- 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems each year
- 1 in 6 people experience mental health problems in one given week
- People are finding it harder to cope with mental health problems, turning to suicide or self harm more often
- 5.9 out of 100 people have generalised anxiety disorder, 3.3 in 100 people have depression and 2.4 people have phobias.
- 20.6 people out of 100 have suicidal thoughts, 6.7 in 100 people attempt suicide and 7.3 in 100 people have self harmed.
- Only 1 in 8 people are currently receiving treatment, mainly medication.
Mental health is incredibly important, the fact that these numbers, when worked out with the uk population, are so high is scary. Mental health has always been around, but now we are more open in talking about it. It is still a stigma but at least we are talking about it and trying to make it more accepted.
Me and my mental illness.
So, much like other people, I haven’t had a mental illness my whole life. I was a confident, outgoing and a little bit of a crazy child. I remember I would volunteer to ask all the questions that my friends were too shy to ask and I would put myself out there on a daily basis (there is a video of me reading animal pun news with my face painted like a dog…) The point is, I didn’t let anyone or anything get me down.
Then I went to high school… I was bullied, like a lot of us have been, but I was bullied for something I couldn’t change, my height. I was called things like the Green Giant and laughed at like on the adverts. I had always loved my height and loved being in the centre of pictures, but the bullies ruined that. I began to hate myself and wished I could change something that I can’t control. Even now, I’d love to hack a bit off my legs. That’s when I began to experience anxiety. I got my mojo back in year 11 and became the old me again.
Then college happened. I broke up with my long term boyfriend and because of that, lost all my friends. I was at a college 2 hours away from where I lived, and I was tired all the time, stressed from work I was struggling with and I was friendless at college. I’m not gonna lie, things were tricky. I was low. But then things got better, I made a great friend group, got a new boyfriend and things looked up. I got into the uni I wanted for the course I wanted to do. Everything was looking up.
University came along. I struggled. I went low, my anxiety moved into depression that didn’t want to go away. Despite meeting James, things were hard. I struggled to make friends, I wasn’t enjoying my course, I missed home. Things were hard. But I carried on. I started taking medication to help control my depression and anxiety but I slowly stopped taking it, I felt no different so I stopped. Clearly there is a pattern here but then I started managing. Even though things were going okay, my anxiety was always in the background, I’d stopped putting myself out there and stopped being the one to have a laugh and start conversations. It became my shadow.
Skip forward into second year of uni, something happened that I am not going to talk about (if you know me in ‘real life’ please don’t ask me about it) but that lead me to spiral. I started to drink a little more than I should and uni suffered for it. But I dint care. I was depressed, wasn’t getting out of bed, didn’t go to lectures and essays were written the night before. Even now, almost 3 years on, I’m not over it, I still struggle and one day I’ll talk about it but right now, I can’t. That’s when the depression and anxiety levels that I struggle with today started.
I restated medication a few months ago and again, I’ve stopped it. I guess I don’t want to be medicated my whole life, even though I know it would help me. I tried getting counselling but it’s been impossible to even get through to the mental health team at the hospital in Chester. I now take medication for anxiety attacks but I’m not sure if its a placebo affect or if it does help. I want to overcome this and one day I’ll get the kick up the butt I need.
Why did I tell you all that?
I think it’s important to tell our stories. It’s important to share what we went through and maybe someone might listen to or read out stories and that might help them, they might be sharing our struggles and we, through sharing, could help. My story isn’t dramatic, or heartbreaking but it still lead to me having a mental illness that impacts me more often than not. I cry at work, I struggle to leave my bed, leaving my house makes me feel awful and sometimes I have panic attacks.
Things are hard but I keep going. I’ve got my worries and fears and of course my shadow is always there. It’s been getting me down more recently but I have to keep going. Even now as I write this I’m having mini breakdowns and worrying about my future, jobs etc. Maybe I’ll talk about that in another post.
Talking about mental illness is so important. Only by sharing our stories and talking to one and other can we start to end this stigma that is placed on mental illness. It’s about time that mental illness is seen the same as physical illness and be as accepted as much as broken arm. I hope that by sharing my, quite ordinary and pretty normal story, that others will talk about their experiences. So lets start talking about mental health and start making it more accepted all over the world.
So there we go! My journey with mental health. I’d love to hear your stories and your experiences and together, we can make more people more aware about mental health.
Until next time,