Meet the Awareness contributors

Our contributors are people who have volunteered to help The Positive Page raise awareness for mental health. When writing awareness posts I wanted to try and make sure the information and experiences shared are not coming from just one person (Hi, I’m Lauren and I run The Positive Page but I don’t just want to talk about my experience alone!) These wonderful people help by sharing their side of the battle with mental illness to ensure The Positive Page’s awareness posts are more informative! If you want to know which posts are made with the contributors help just read the caption!

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STEPHANIE MCKENZIE

Contributor

Age:  28 Instagram:  @oeinahpets

Growing up, I often felt isolated. It was like no one understood what was happening in my brain and no one could give me an explanation for it either. I finally found some answers in a psychology class in my sophomore year at college. The professor spoke about things I had been experiencing my whole life. Things like: depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. It was like a light went off in my brain. I wasn't the only person that felt this way - it was a completely normal thing. That was ten years ago - and let me tell you the last decade has been a whirlwind.

 

Getting to know myself has made the largest positive impact on my mental health. I see a therapist weekly, because for a long time I had a real problem with talking to myself about anything. My therapist helps me develop healthy coping skills and reminds me of my bigger picture. She also reminds me to slow down and celebrate my little wins. Whether that be setting my boundaries or taking a shower - those wins are worth celebrating.

 

Another huge thing for me is my community. I am very careful who I surround myself with, because I know that it will inevitably impact my mental health. People need other people - so make sure your people understand and love you for who you are. It's a real game changer.

 

Everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you. But one thing is for sure - something will work. You are wonderful and uniquely you and the world needs more of that. I'm in your corner.

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Kayleigh Butler

Contributor

Age: 18 Instagram:  @mystery_girl.x.o.x.o

My name is Kayleigh and I am 18 years old. I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and I have Autism. I spend a lot of time struggling with mental illness, feeling tired and low. Having Autism mean that I am sensitive to lights and sounds as well as highly emotional and unable to understnad people and their tones/emotions sometimes. I got my Autism diagnosis close to my 18th birthday and am still learning what it means for me.  I have been managing anxiety and depression by prioritisng self-care (although I'm not always good at it. I like to crochet and work on my blog and sometimes draw or paint to make myself feel better when I am struggling or to relax after a hard day at work. 

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chelsea walkling

Contributor

Age: 26 Instagram:  @anarchyandanxiety

I'm Chelsea, 26, mum to a 4 year old boy Zack

I've always felt different to others but managed to hide it well and live a semi 'normal' life. My mum has suffered with her mental health ever since I can remember and I just assumed I had learned behaviour from my upbringing. However my mental health issues became more apparent after the birth of my son. After a horrendous birth, with me and my son almost dying I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety. After three years, several antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy i worsened. Hardly leaving my house, self harming to cope with my emotions, having suicidal ideations and feeling unable to cope. Both me and my doctor felt there was more to my mental health than depression and i was referred to a psychiatrist. Emotional dysregulation/ emotional instability/ BPD is what he and i feel 'fits me best'. Reading the typical symptoms of borderline personality disorder it was just like a check list for me. I havent recieved an official diagnosis but being told he feels this is what I'm struggling with has actually helped me accept myself. Almost like it's okay I'm not just 'crazy', I have issues that other people struggle with, I'm not just completely silly for not being able to cope, I cannot help it. And that's where I am today, a few weeks into a new therapy group, on my final try of a new anti depressant before trying stronger medication.

What have I find helps me cope? First and foremost honesty. My mum gets my feelings and emotions and I don't have to explain myself to her. My husband I will tell how I'm feeling, if I'm having a bad day so he can 'pick up the slack', between the two of these I can try and express my emotions and make sense of the tornado inside my head. I use my instagram to write posts and work through thoughts and feelings, and connect with others going through the same so I don't feel so alone. I use distraction techniques such as puzzles, crosswords, TV shows, my phone, anything to keep me out of my head. I have someone with me when I leave the house, I try to challenge the negative thoughts I have.
I can't say I cope extremely well, every day is a struggle, it's not brilliant not being able to leave my house alone but the main thing is I'm not giving up I'm trying!

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Amy Cribbin

Contributor

Age:  25 Instagram:  @lunaliterarycreations 

Growing up, I often felt isolated. It was like no one understood what was happening in my brain and no one could give me an explanation for it either. I finally found some answers in a psychology class in my sophomore year at college. The professor spoke about things I had been experiencing my whole life. Things like: depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. It was like a light went off in my brain. I wasn't the only person that felt this way - it was a completely normal thing. That was ten years ago - and let me tell you the last decade has been a whirlwind.

 

Getting to know myself has made the largest positive impact on my mental health. I see a therapist weekly, because for a long time I had a real problem with talking to myself about anything. My therapist helps me develop healthy coping skills and reminds me of my bigger picture. She also reminds me to slow down and celebrate my little wins. Whether that be setting my boundaries or taking a shower - those wins are worth celebrating.

 

Another huge thing for me is my community. I am very careful who I surround myself with, because I know that it will inevitably impact my mental health. People need other people - so make sure your people understand and love you for who you are. It's a real game changer.

 

Everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you. But one thing is for sure - something will work. You are wonderful and uniquely you and the world needs more of that. I'm in your corner.

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Sarah O'connor

Contributor

Age:  41 Instagram:  @mrs_sarah_oc

So I’m Sarah O’Connor. I’m 41 years old, and I’m a married step mum of one from Burton Latimer, Northants. Last year I had around 7 months of CBT to help with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I’ve had problems with both for a long time now, certainly most of my adult life which had progressively got worse over the last few years. A trigger for my own worsening mental health was losing my Dad on New Years Eve 2013 in fairly traumatic circumstances. He had just been told 5 years clear of cancer and although had been ill that year was being told he was getting better, when in fact he wasn’t. I currently work for our family business and having to continue the business without him was just so stressful, and I couldn’t cope.In the summer of 2018, we lost a family friend to suicide. It was devastating and tragic and I just felt so awful - I was stuck in a whirl of what if’s, could I have helped, did I make things worse - irrational thoughts and guilt, unnecessary guilt, consumed me. And I was starting to become aware how poor my own mental health was. At the end of 2018, in very quick succession our boiler broke at home and the hot water tank started leaking, water has always been a big trigger for me with OCD - and I came close to the point of collapse. I couldn’t leave the house comfortably, I was crying, not eating, panicking, my compulsions were endless and out of control and in the end I self referred for therapy and went to the GP who gave me medication and made regular weekly appointments until I could be assessed. 

 

So what has helped me to get better? CBT without a doubt, and I’m very lucky to have an incredibly supportive and understanding husband who has been there for me and looked after me at my worst, and celebrated my successes with me. The day my therapist told me I was no longer at risk of being hospitalised was one of the happiest days I can remember, and he was there for me. 

 

I’m a firm believer in self care too, I’m mindful of how I feel and listening to myself more, I try to be kind to myself and others, but not to wear myself out. I guess I’m more aware of my limits now. I’ve also found a lot of help in comfort in the online community - I’ve found authors, I’ve done research, and I follow pages I find inspirational or comforting on Instagram and Twitter. I also became aware of Give Us A Shout which is a text based service for people in crisis, and I’m now a Crisis Volunteer for them, speaking to people who text in to try and help them find some calm. I’m proud of this, being able to use my own experiences has helped me hugely, and hopefully helps others too. 

 

Unfortunately my mental health hasn’t been helped by work, and has ultimately caused conflict within my family. I made the choice at the end of last year to hand my notice in and will be leaving in February this year. This is a hard thing to do, but it’s best for me and I need to start prioritising myself over a business. I’m excited for the future, and I’m looking forward to a new challenge. And lastly, my new source of comfort is our puppy Toby. My husband works away sometimes, and Toby is my new companion and he’s only been with us a short while but he’s already a part of the family! 

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Tessa 

Contributor

Age: 32 Instagram: @the_squirrel_collective

I first began struggling with my mental health as a teenager, I had postnatal depression after the traumatic birth of my daughter in 2011 and anxiety and depression have had a massive impact on my life. My lowest point came in 2015 when I’d allowed my anxiety to dominate my life to the point that I no longer left the house. I’d have days when I didn’t eat, or even move, for fear of it setting off a panic attack. I had to give up a job I loved, I couldn’t take my daughter to school and I spent Christmas alone, not wanting to live.

 

I was diagnosed with a panic disorder and began taking new medication. That combined with reading the right book at the right time and the support of an awesome psychiatric nurse enabled me to start having some kind of life again. Crochet is my mindfulness; it gives me empowerment, purpose, relaxation and has given me confidence in my worth and ability. I still have periods of low mood, and anxiety can still affect daily life. Every day is a little battle with my brain, but now I win more often than I lose.

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Natalie Holden 

Contributor

Age: 29 Instagram:  @schizophrenia_and_me

My name is Natalie Holden and I am 29 years old. I have paranoid schizophrenia as well as PTSD. I have been in and out of hospital for most of my adult life. It's been a long and tough road, but I have finally found a medication regime that works.

 

I am currently a stay at home mum, to my 4 year old Daughter. In my spare time I like to be creative. I draw and crochet, both of which serve a dual purpose; they give me a creative outlet and both serve as great mindful activities.

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Heather

Contributor

Age: 32 Instagram:  @beforeghosts

  • I have been officially with depression and anxiety for about 7 years but I'm pretty sure I have had some variation my whole life. I currently take medication daily and have found that Sertraline works the best for me at the moment. It affects me daily, as something that is always there in some form but is smaller or bigger depending on the day. Some days it is a low hum and other it is a full blown crying affair. But I feel that I have learnt to manage it alot better than before. On the positive side, I have also found it has brought me closer to some people and given me bonds that I don't think I would have had without experiencing these things. Things that help me? Spending time with my niece (3) and nephew (6). I always say that they need me more than my mental health issues need me and if I do cry around them, it's ok. Actually, my nephew has helped me through the darkest time and they both give me lots of laughs and cuddles when I need it. Also telling people about my issues seems to relive them, like a pressure being lifted and I definitely cry less when people know I may cry.

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Katie

Contributor

Age: 26 Instagram:  @nowiamrecovering

Hi there, I’m Katie, aged 26 from London, recovering from Anorexia Nervosa.My story…. A couple of years ago I moved to Sydney for work. The sunshine was awesome but ultimately I was really unhappy in my job and so far away from my family. I felt very lonely and my coping mechanism was controlling my food. I guess it gave me a sense of achievement, watching the numbers go down felt good. I would eat, but people would see my lunch of vegetables and say “oh you’re so healthy” when actually it was the opposite. Meals out with friends, which should have been fun, scared me - I’d always have to check the menu and plan first. I’d spend all day mentally planning my dinner, literally all I’d think about was food. Over the course of about a year I lost a lot of weight and became quite unwell, although at the time I didn’t actually recognise there was anything seriously wrong.In March 2018 I returned to the UK and went to my doctor. I was referred to the mental health specialist team and was officially diagnosed with Anorexia. That’s when the hard work began… I began attending weekly therapy sessions and dietician appointments to help me understand why I was turning to restriction and encourage me to slowly but surely regain weight. I followed recovery accounts on Instagram (huge shout out to @megsyrecovery - I cannot recommend her videos enough!) and tried to delete anything that was triggering such as gym routines or healthy eating.It’s been really tough. When I was first diagnosed I thought it’d take a few months to be back to “normal” and now I realise that’s not the case. Every day I have to make the conscious decision about what I eat and how much I rest and it feels so uncomfortable, but when I look back I am so grateful for the help I received and making the decision to recover. I want to be able to go to brunch with my boyfriend, to join in with the cake at a birthday party… You’ll never feel “ready” for recovery and the journey won’t be a straight path but it’s totally worth it. Recovery has given me the freedom to start a new job, move in with my friends and ultimately live the life I want to live.

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Amelia macek

Contributor

Age:  17 Instagram:  @ameliamk1

Trigger warning: mentions of self harm and suicidal ideation. Starting in roughly fourth or fifth grade, I began noticing my mood was constantly low. I liked to think that was just a time where I was blossoming into my teenage years, but I soon realized I had disordered  thinking when I resorted to self harming as a coping mechanism. As a 12 year old, I did not handle this well. My brain was still developing decision making skills, which meant my instinct decisions were not ideal. I often attended school with bracelets covering my wrist, and at this time in my life, my actions were a cry for help. At least, I thought so. But when adults recognized what was happening, I did not want to accept help. When my doctor asked me if I was self harming, I lied and said I had only done it once. Even still, I do not understand why I did not accept help at this point. I think, ultimately, I was living with an intense amount of fear that I would be seen as ‘crazy’. Due to that fear, I hid even more. I became more secretive. I had periods of time, where I felt okay, but I never went very long without self harm. Up through the summer before my senior year, I struggled with this. I had not been diagnosed with anything, and internally I thought I had ruined the rest of my life by doing this to myself. I felt I had nothing to live for. My thoughts had become intrusive, violent, and extremely scary. Truthfully, I wanted to die. For many years I had suicidal thoughts, but they were typically passive and did not result in any considerations or plans. This changed towards December 2018. I began planning, wondering how I would die. My self harm had gotten to a point where I would no longer be able to hide in warmer weather. I felt entirely hopeless. But, some part of me (encouraged by my amazing friends) had a glimpse of hope left. I asked for help. I said I was not doing okay, after 6 years of suffering. I talked with a school counselor and my mom, and had an appointment scheduled for therapy...but in May. 7 months from then. I didn’t think I would last 7 months, but somehow I did. That said, it was NOT easy. I isolated myself from friends and family, and even pushed my best friends away. I would come home and lay in bed all night. I stopped eating, and my grades were plummeting. Those 7 months were complete and utter hell, but knowing help was coming was enough to keep me waiting. Once May came, I had my first ever therapy appointment. Luckily, the immediate alliance I formed with my therapist was perfect and I was entirely comfortable speaking with her. I saw her weekly, and was doing relatively well. Then, summer started. June 2019, I had one more appointment with her until August 21st. Her calendar was completely filled, but I was on her cancellation list so that if anything opened up, I could go. But, going from weekly appointments to 2 months with nothing, left me feeling helpless once again. That is not to say it is my therapists fault, I adore her and she has no control over that. It was just unfortunate timing for me. Roughly 2 weeks after my final summer appointment, I was having an emergency. I texted crisis all night, self harmed worse than I ever had before, and did not see any purpose to life anymore. My therapist knew I was not okay, and squeezed me in for an emergency 1pm appointment. Long story short, I left that appointment and went to crisis intervention, to the hospital, and was at an inpatient facility at 9pm that night. Inpatient sounded extremely scary, but I look back on it very positively. It saved my life. I am 6 months clean because of inpatient. I met AMAZING people there, who encouraged me to do better. I got diagnosed with MDD (with potential symptoms of quiet borderline) and GAD. I finally knew why I felt the way I did for so long. Now, it is December 2019, 6 months after my inpatient stay. I am a completely different person now. I am in therapy, on medication, and taking steps to take care of myself. That is not to say anything is easy, life is still very hard, but I am much more capable to carry the weight now, with help from meds and therapy. There is so much love and hope in the world, and if you are feeling hopeless or helpless like I was, please know that with some guidance, I got to where I am now. I genuinely wanted to end my life, and I am so glad I did not make that decision based on my intrusive thoughts. You’re so loved and you can contact me anytime. I am still recovering and learning how to manage my illnesses, but we can learn together! ️

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