We share mental health stories to raise awareness and to inspire others to start finding the steps to recovery. In doing this we know that talking about mental health is so important.

  • JESS WHITE

    I first realised i was experiencing more than just sadness when i was in year 8. Most day were consumed with darkness and I found myself isolated. It carried on in year 9 and I was self harming daily. I remember getting into trouble on purpose at school so i would get a lunch detention and not have to hang out with my friends. I was so ashamed and didn't want to be around anyone. I would cry everyday at school but when i got home i was the perfect happy daughter. 

    I remember the day i told an adult about what was going on. It was the 18th november 2015. It was the hardest day of my life because i knew i would no longer be able to stay in a tight bubble by myself. The secret would be out. But it was the best decision of my life. That small step meant i could get the support i needed. 

    After months of GP appointment and failed medication I was referred to camhs and months later i finally was transferred there. I was initially diagnosed with anxiety and depression with symptoms of other things. 

    The next year or so was filled with ups and downs. My first suicide attempt was in May 2017. This was my wake up call. i realised things were worse than ever and i was forced to accept help.  I was in year 10 and GCSEs were coming so quickly. The pressure to recovery quickly was put onto me and i was still not ready to let go. 2017 was full of meetings at school, being sent home and hospital admissions. Unfortunately CAMHS alone was not helping. I was still self harming regularly and my eating was getting very distorted. 

    2018 came and not much had changed. The whole 'new year, new me' did not seem to apply to me. I remember when everyone had gone to bed on new years i was in my bed crying, not celebrating. More suicide attempts occurred and it was year 11. GCSEs tested me. I nearly didn't make it. But i did. I am lucky that i have always had a good support team at school. They carried me through my studies and wouldn't be here today without that.

    This summer after GCSEs has been amazing yet still challenging. With my 5th hospital admission everyone around me woke up and realised that just because school is over, my mental illnesses are not. I have to fight everyday to keep everything at bay but its worth it. My current diagnoses is unknown as i show traits for BPD and some other stuff but i am more than any diagnoses. 

     

    Through all the highs and lows I've been able to see how beautiful life is and that recovery gives you everything. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that everyone has a purpose. Im no where near FULL recovery but i am recovering. Its hard but there is no other option. Family, teachers and CAMHS can help me but overall its my decision. And I choose recover. I choose life. I choose recovery!

    The best advice I can give is to talk. Or write. Or draw. Just get it all out in a healthy way. Once its out the world feels a little less heavy and the sun peeps through the clouds. Recovery is not all sunshine and rainbows, but a lot of it can be. It all starts when you take a step to TALK. 

    I belive in you all! :) xx

  • KAAJAL GUPTA

    I have OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

     

    This statement holds quite a bit of significance for myself, and as I can imagine, a large section of the community of those who suffer from OCD. I have struggled with it since the 8th grade.

     

    After around two years, I learned how to manage my OCD, that is, I could resist performing a compulsion even though my OCD urged me to do so. The process of regaining control over myself and loosening the hold OCD had over me was made much easier by the help of my friends, family, and therapist. In fact, it was my sister who first recognized and associated my symptoms with OCD. She was also the one who suggested that I make an app to help track my compulsions.

     

    I pondered upon this idea for a few months until I realized how brilliantly applicable it was to my situation. I tried to visually organize each obstacle I faced while making a diary for OCD. As I was recollecting my experiences, I remembered how my therapist had suggested that I keep a record of my compulsions, as well as the negative aspects of my day. Although I started writing one with hope, it didn’t work out too well. I was too absorbed in my compulsions to actually walk to my room, unlock my diary, and write something down. After I finished the compulsion, the sense of relief made me want to relax, but would instead immediately lead to another intrusive thought. I had initially tried to write every night, but all of the thoughts and urges I’d experienced during the day somehow slipped my mind. Moreover, due to the haunting fear of someone stumbling upon my diary, writing about my obsessive thoughts was out of the question. So, writing was quite ineffective for me, and as I have noticed, for many people with OCD. But now, in retrospect, I realize how essential the simple act of writing down and analyzing my obsessive thoughts and urges was to understanding my OCD.

     

    The concept of making an app to act as a diary would be very suited to solve these difficulties. A phone can be carried everywhere easily, unlike a book, so entering thoughts and tracking obsessive actions could be accomplished instantly with the help of gentle reminders from the app. Since all the inputs would be time-stamped, detecting trends, patterns, triggers might be much easier to do. Further, there’s the added guaranteed security provided with phones.

     

    This idea struck a chord with me as I had always had a passion for coding — it was something I could do for days on end. It became a kind of escape from my OCD. I got very interested in Android development in particular. The natural connection between utilizing my existing knowledge of Android development and solving my OCD-diary problem made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of the idea a long time ago.

     

    I began planning the app from the beginning of 2018, immersing myself into its fundamental design and flow. I felt a responsibility to make this app — for myself, and for people all over the world struggling with OCD. This frequently stereotyped disease is constantly overlooked while being one that causes a significant amount of embarrassment and torture for the person. I know this because of my own experiences at school. The intense urge to enter the school gate just one more time was conflicted with my own desire to avoid humiliation. Even though I was visiting my therapist at the time, a self-help tool which would have helped me look at my progress and provide relevant and accessible exercises would’ve been immensely helpful. I wanted to help those who were not as lucky as I was, those who didn’t have an open-minded family or resources to visit a therapist.

     

    I started doing online research into cognitive-behavioral exercises to be done to help people who struggle with OCD. In fact, that was another reason I wanted to make the app — to create a concise directory of the exercises which are helpful when one has OCD. Information found on the Internet and in books can be scattered and difficult to read with all kinds of technical jargon. Furthermore, there generally aren’t any trigger warnings and information is rather bluntly presented. I wanted to help make resources more accessible and easier to read in my app.

     

    I soon realized that the app had to be made more visually appealing for it to become a success. So, I recruited seven artists who were all very talented in digital art and design. We immediately began brainstorming design ideas to make the app more attractive (while I was continuing doing the background research on OCD). The app soon began to look very striking — with an appealing color scheme and vivid caricatures.

     

    One particular area of deliberation was deciding a visual representation of OCD. We came up with the idea of OCD being a small ghost — that it has layers or ‘sheets’, becoming larger the more the person gives into doing the compulsions. I began expanding on the analogy: OCD is not as one-dimensional as a person may think, but instead, it has layers upon layers of hidden meaning. It may appear to be small, helpful even at the beginning, making people think it’s there to help them and what it’s telling them to do is necessary for their well-being. But, it grows, acquiring more layers and filling the person’s head with more and more horrifying images until they’re too afraid to say no to it.

     

    While the forefront of the app was underway, I was focused on the backend. For most of my summer, I was sitting in a swirly leather chair typing furiously on my MacBook. I improvised a lot, doing what I knew and learning what I didn’t from trusty Stack Overflow. In the process, I learned a lot about coding, UI design, OCD, and myself.

     

    After I learned to control my OCD, I tried to avoid thinking about it much. The making of this app brought up a lot of memories — of the disturbing thoughts and the appraisal of them that my OCD forced me to go through, ultimately leading to a compulsion. I analyzed how I managed to dismiss my thoughts for what they really were. They were trivial, fleeting impulses that meant nothing about who I actually was. My thoughts did not define who I was, my actions did. When my OCD was at its worst, it made me think that my thoughts had consequences and would come true in actual life. This frightened me, compelling me to constantly regulate and overanalyze my everyday thoughts. The letting go of this responsibility was a huge step for me and is one of the most challenging steps a person suffering from OCD has to undergo. I looked at what would’ve helped me during this hard time and included it in the app.

     

    I then realized that I needed more help with the text resources and exercises of the app from a professional. Professor Srikanth — a computer science professor who was advising me in the technical parts of the app — introduced me to the NIMHANS doctors and professor, Dr. Paulomi. I worked with her, and she guided me in the creation of content for the app.

     

    Soon came the debugging process. I had finished the coding of the app and relevant research in September 2018, one month after my initial deadline. Since the app had a multitude of features, I had to comb through each one of them. When the user tilts the phone, what happens? When the user presses this button and then this, what will happen? I found two people who had OCD who could test the app and give me feedback. I simultaneously updated the app in accordance with these bugs and had a finished product on November 10th, 2018.

     

    By that time, I was exhausted but proud of the product I had put together. While seated in the dark with my laptop’s screen illuminating my face, I took a deep breath and pressed ‘START ROLLOUT TO PRODUCTION’ at precisely 9:34 pm IST.

     

    And thus, began the journey of Liberate: My OCD Fighter.

     

    While the most challenging part of app development for myself is over, the app still has a long way to go. I am looking to conduct trials at the OCD clinic at NIMHANS Bengaluru among outpatients within the next few months to gauge user response.

     

    Thanks,

  • aLEX

    Hey Everyone :) In 2016, after a severe depressive and psychotic episode, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 which, although it was difficult to hear at the time, it has helped me to learn about the importance of self care and managing your mental health. 

     

    I never realised the impacts that my Bipolar was having on my life until I look back. I lost jobs, ruined relationships and to say I didn’t like myself is an understatement. I had no idea what was going on and having been misdiagnosed with depression for about 10 years, no medication or help I received seemed to work. If I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how I’ve made it to being 28 and I never thought I’d be so happy to be alive and be able to share my story. 

     

    It’s sad to think that suicidal thoughts became the norm for me. I had no space in my head to even think, periods of my life seemed to just disappear and unfortunately turned to drugs and alcohol for things to be quiet in my head for a while. 

     

    And yet here I am! I’ve been taking my medication now for almost 2 years, I’m currently doing CBT and next year I’ll be running an ultra marathon (52.4 miles in a day) to help raise awareness for mental health, to stamp out the stigma and to show that those of us with mental health problems can do anything we want. Oh and I’ve discovered mindfulness and Yoga! 

     

    While writing this, I want to look forward. I know I’ve been through some really hard times in my life however I’ve also come through some really hard times and I’m standing here ready to fight another day! I may relapse, I may have hard times again however whatever happens, I can get through it!

     

    If all the things I’d been through hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today and I’ve learnt so much along my journey. I’ve actually come to accept who I am and for the first time in my life, I can say I actually like who I am. 

     

    Never forget how strong you are. You can do anything you want in life if you just take one small step. 

     

    Alex :)

  • ANGELA

    When I think about my mental health a rush of emotional words fly out at me - shame, guilt, anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, judgment - but also - love, happiness, forgiveness, determination, strength. Most of all, the word that refuses to be overlooked is ANXIETY. For me, anxiety has lived in the front seat for so long it can be hard for me to separate myself from it.

     

    If I look back as far as I can remember, I don’t know a time where I wasn’t an anxious person. I remember having to breathe into a paper bag as a kid because I would hyperventilate when I had an anxiety attack. My anxiety really started flaring up in high school. By college, I was taking medication and it helped me remove the frantic energy from my thoughts. It helped me slow down but it wasn’t my answer. I officially went off medication when I was about twenty-four and life got harder. Important relationships were becoming difficult to maintain and I was seeing more bad days than good. I would have obsessive thoughts that ran like a broken record in my head for months. I was exhausted.

     

    I decided it was time to take measures into my own hands. Enough was enough. The first steps that I took were eating healthy on a regular basis and working out. Then came the exploration of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and everything natural. It was not an easy road but I was determined.

     

    I have come to terms with the fact that anxiety is part of my experience. I will always have good days and bad days. On the bad days, it can feel like I am battling my thoughts. Like there is a bickering family in my head with one side full of worried fear while the other side is full of concerned judgment. I can become so frustrated with the noise that I sit on the shower floor and cry. On the good days, I am full of joy and gratitude. My mind doesn’t stand in my way but instead views the world as a child with wonder and awe. I build myself up and talk to myself like a best friend. I can say, with a smile, that I now see more good days than bad.

     

    I can also say that, without a doubt, I am thankful for my anxiety. Now that sounds like a funny thing to say, why would I be thankful for something that has seemingly tortured me for years. I am thankful for my anxiety because I know on a very basic level that all it is trying to do is protect me. I am thankful for my anxiety because it has made me who I am. It has broken me down and shown me that I am stronger than I ever imagined. It has proven to me that I am no thought and I am no feeling. It has proven that the true nature of me lies in the silence, not in the noise.

     

    Throughout the last month, I have learned an immense amount about thought and what it means by practicing mindfulness meditation. It has given me the ability not to relinquish anxiety but to observe it. Mindfulness meditation has allowed me to separate myself from my thoughts and feelings to finally begin to understand that they do not define me. Healing is hard. Healing is a consistent effort every day. Deciding to allow myself to heal was the most beautiful and worthy step I ever took.

  • ISABEL

    It’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly my mh journey began. I was bullied and found it hard to make friends at school. I was a perfectionist, shy and compared myself to others. I started ballet when I was 5 and it’s been my escape ever since, a place where I have friends, feel confident and can be myself. I fit in for the first time during a school exchange in France when I was 16. The two months I spent there were both the best and worst time of my life. I made friends and learnt that I was likeable and normal, but I also realised what I had missed out on. I felt like the girls there were prettier and thinner than me and that if I was thinner I would be accepted too. When I returned home I started self-harming, having suicidal thoughts and restricting. I changed school that September and made the most incredible friends and memories. Yet, my mh deteriorated further and I developed anorexia. My Mum dragged me to the GP just before my 18th birthday who told me I wasn’t “underweight enough” and suggested private counselling. I went 3 times but felt too guilty because of the cost and stopped. My motivation to recover was my end of school exams and the thought of going to uni. I managed to pull myself out of the dark hole of anorexia with no support, excel in my exams and now I can go out for meals, eat what I want and relax around food like I never thought I would be able to again. I had the most amazing first year at university in France which wasn’t overshadowed by food, but I was too ashamed to reach out and ask for help when after Christmas the suicidal thoughts and self-harm got worse. It was only after a suicide attempt May ‘17 that anyone realised something was seriously wrong. I came home and took a year off to focus on myself. I was diagnosed with BPD and depression and finished DBT in June. I’ve now returned to 2nd year of uni. I still have bad days and am also on meds to help my mood. I want to go on to do MH nursing after my degree. By sharing my story and running to fundraise for Mind I hope to help break the stigma around mental illness

  • HANNAH CADE

    Unlike many people suffering with mental health problems, I can pinpoint exactly when my mental illness began. I was a confident, outgoing and driven 14 year old when I was raped by a trusted adult. This catastrophic incident would be the start of chronic pain, both physically and mentally, outbursts of anger, self harm, breakdowns in relationships and daily battles with my own mind.

    My doctor was quick to diagnose me with depression a week after I was raped. She prescribed me the first, of what would turn out to be 100’s of different anti depressants, SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and antipsychotic drugs to try. Over the years these drugs have made my moods more volatile, given me suicidal thoughts, made my weight fluctuate and have completely messed up with my monthly cycles.

    As a result of daily panic attacks and the fear of judgment after my assault, I spent the last year and a half of school either studying from home or in my head of year’s office. I constantly felt sick for no obvious reason, I had lost all my confidence and self worth, and I felt anger that I couldn’t control or express in a safe way. I lashed out at those closest to me (often my parents) and found it hard to maintain any kind of a relationship - friendships, boyfriends and my parents.

    My first suicide attempt was around 3 months after the assault. I was 15 and just could not cope with the feeling of sadness and isolation anymore. I was still very confused about what had happened to me and every day I questioned what had I done wrong to have been attacked. I truly felt like I had nothing to live for. The only thing I had on the horizon now was a looming court case.

    After this I did go on to achieve very good GCSE grades and I managed to get through the court case, but by the time this was all over though, I just wanted to ‘get on’ with my life. I refused any kind of therapy and chose to carry on to the next step of college like my peers. I only lasted 2 months before quitting and getting a part time job. Over the next 18 months I couldn’t keep a job down, got drunk at every possible opportunity and began to self harm. I also developed a problem with eating, where I skipped meals and when I did eat, I exercised excessively to work off the calories. the horrible thing is, at the time, I actually thought this was an achievement.

    I finally settled in a job in marketing and PR, I began to have a better relationship with food again and my life seemed to be much more stable. Just before I turned 20 I met my ex boyfriend. For the first time, I built up the courage to confide in him about my past and how I was still struggling to come to terms with it. Our relationship completely changed that day. He became very manipulative, and abusive, both verbally and physically. I was told that no one could love me after what I had been through. His abuse triggered flashbacks and nightmares of the sexual assault I experienced when I was 15. This completely put me off wanting to talk about my mental health. I had also worked so hard to trust people again (especially males) and his abuse instantly put me back to square one of not being able to trust anyone.

    By the time I was 21, I hit rock bottom. I felt I couldn’t talk about my feelings as it was ‘attention seeking’, I rarely ate again as I was self conscious about gaining any weight and I was constantly on edge waiting for a flashback. I felt ashamed that after being sexually abused as a teen, I would let myself be abused again as an adult.

    I did eventually break up with him, but my mental health just carried on declining. Between the ages of 21 and 23 (current day) I attempted suicide 4 more times. I have had to stop working completely, I battle with panic attacks daily and often don’t leave the house. I have developed physical pains, which I have been told by a specialist are a result of my anxiety. I experience pains in my lower stomach, back and vagina. The pains are unbearable, a sensation of constantly being stabbed in those areas. I relied on morphine for months to numb the pain and I now find that pain relief doesn’t even take the edge off. I often have to sit with an ice block in one area, and a hot water bottle in another, to ease it. I was also diagnosed with PTSD causing me to relieve traumatic events daily, feeling every sensation like the smell of the room at the time to touch on my skin.

    I am very much still in recovery and have to take each day as it comes. I have begun to start to talk about my mental health again, which was really hard for me at first, after being so brutally treated the last time I opened up, but talking about my mental health has allowed me to get the help I really needed. I am awaiting specialist therapy for victims of sexual assault and I find yoga has really helped me to manage my pains. I have an amazing boyfriend, who has been there for me every step of the way and made me feel safe to talk about my mental health again. I also can’t thank my family and my friends enough for standing by me and never giving up on me. Living with a mental illness does not make you ‘crazy’ or ‘unlovable’. It doesn’t define a person. Infact, those struggling with their mental health are some of the strongest and bravest people I know.

  • CELIDH MONAGHAN

    My name is Ceilidh, and I’ve suffered with mental ill health for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a young child I remember having this distorted view on the world around me and despising myself. I felt as if I was the reason bad things happened to others, which was incredibly anxiety ridden for me. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of my traumatic and chaotic life, neither will I have a clear and coherent story because all the series of events in my life seem blurred now.

     

    I was a child anorexic. I was asked the other day by my adult team why children developed anorexia and we had a long discussion why that was. Did I despise my body? Absolutely. I refused to do PE or wear tight clothes in front of my peers in primary school, I refused to wear skirts or summer dresses for fear it made me fatter but ultimately I felt as if I needed to be punished. I was punishing myself, attempting to control what I couldn’t control in my life. I wanted to shrink in on myself until I didn’t exist anymore. Maybe if I kept shrinking in size, I could fade away and never been seen again.

     

    This meant that I never really had a clear understanding of what it meant to live a life pre-mental illness. It was this all consuming, all dark blur from the get go. Things began to get progressively worse the older I became, but admittedly I became more stable when I was 14 or 15 years old – even with my perfectionism and high expectations of myself. There was a two year gap where things were pretty manageable, dare I say good, but everything else was full of distress. Hospitals and distress. Bullying and this constant torment. Although anorexia nervosa had always been a big part of my life, by the time I got to my GCSE years I began to struggle in ways I never had before. I call this my ultimate and prolonged mental breakdown because it was.

     

    I did all sorts of damaging and dangerous things to myself, I am very lucky to be alive with all the damage I’ve done. This overwhelming anxiety surfaced in ways I hadn’t experienced before. It was incapacitating I didn’t leave my house for over a month, I couldn’t use public transport for months, I wouldn’t shop, I wouldn’t walk outside unless it was after dark and everyone was in bed. I had these constant panic attacks and it was uncontrollable. I was asked to leave mainstream schooling, and it was this horrendous time. I went outside in the middle of the night and wailed that I had failed, that I couldn’t do anything anymore. I was picked up and put inside my house. I thought this was the end and I wanted it to be the end.

     

    I was very lucky to work with very good teams and several different units. I had many diagnosis from anorexia nervosa to major depressive disorder and almost every anxiety disorder there was. It wasn’t until I went to a specialist hospital I was assessed for borderline personality disorder and diagnosed with this also (eBPD) in September after my GCSEs. I did life changing therapy that helped turned things around. I was unwell for school and was asked to leave again, had to leave two jobs, been on sections and just in and out of hospitals for what seemed as if forever and this therapy and my therapist helped to transform my life.

     

    Depression is still a very big part of my everyday. I struggled with chronic suicidal ideation where it just never seems to go away and it’s tough. But with the years I’ve got better at managing things and learning to change things for the better. There’s no longer a domino affect of self destruction, more just learning to make peace with my past, myself and how I feel.

     

    Things were never supposed to get better for me. I was constantly told I was going to die, that I was never going to recover and that things looked bleak. But things have got progressively better, and have been proving everyone wrong for a while now. Sometimes upon reflection in the future we can truly realise how much of a long way we’ve come. I know I look back and it seems so insane that my past was full of so much hurt. But it got better and is getting better little bit by bit.

     

    All my love x

  • KATIE SCOTT

    Hi everyone!! I’m Katie, I’m 20 and from Berkshire, and this is my story.

     

    It all started in 2012 when suddenly, and without much warning, I was hyper-aware of what I was eating. Focused entirely on calories; the numbers were engulfing me and whizzing around my brain at 100mph. Those around me noticed a change in me and became concerned but I was in denial. What they thought didn’t matter - I was busy and I had a goal to reach.

     

    After 6 months my mum went to the doctor who referred me to CAMHS. I was given CBT sessions which I spent slumped in my chair thinking of nothing but how wrong the therapist was. I was just losing weight, what was the problem? I could stop this whenever I wanted.

     

    As the school year ended, my weight loss got more dangerous and I was referred to my local eating disorder unit, with a diagnosis of anorexia. The next year consisted of endless appointments; a blur of meal plans, tears and wars over the dinner table. Anorexia was totally in control and it was hell.

     

    After a year of battles and maintaining a weight slightly below healthy, I relapsed and fell to a dangerously low weight. This saw me pulled out of sixth form and admitted as an inpatient to the eating disorder unit. There I was forced to learn to eat again, tackling foods that filled me with panic, as well as working on anxiety, depression and self-harming behaviours.

     

    By November I was a healthy weight, but other issues had come to the surface and my impulsive self-harming behaviours became quite serious. After a few absconsion incidents, the decision was made for me to be placed under section 3 of the mental health act and transferred to a secure unit a long way from home.

    This was terrifying: I was 17 in an adult unit and I wanted nothing more than to go home to my mum.

     

    However, after a few months of misery and isolation, it dawned on me that going home was not possible unless I made it possible. I began talking to my doctor, requesting medication when things were difficult and trying to utilise the support of staff. I got more leave, and slowly but surely I built up trust with my care team. I was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder which helped me to understand why I felt and did certain things, and allowed for more specialised treatment. I began thinking about what I was aiming for long-term, and the motivation to return to sixth form and finish my A Levels spurred me on further.

     

    July 2016 came around and I was finally discharged from the hospital and allowed home. Since then, I’ve completed my A Levels, got jobs, learned to drive, got to university, and made countless friends and memories. I now volunteer for the charities Beat and Mind, hoping to help others going through what I went through. I never thought a couple of years ago that I would make it through the day, let alone get to where I am now, but it is possible. Even the longest and darkest storms end: keep going

  • vICTORIA

    To all those who are reading this, I am so deeply thankful for your interest and caring. To me, that is as positive as sharing your own story!

     

    My name is Victoria and I am a 23-year-old girl from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Today I can define myself to you in many terms but sometime ago I could just define who I was in only one way: in my mind, I had become nothing more than my eating disorder, nothing more than a social anxiety and depression sufferer.

     

    Seeking help was the best decision I have ever made. Thanks to that, I am currently attending a foundation that provides me with an outpatient integral treatment for Eating Disorder Recovery as well as with many tools to face daily anxiety. Two years ago, I had no idea how much I was in need of guidance; I was desperate for solutions but was not aware of what the things that were going on in my body and mind were. Becoming aware of the fact that I needed help was one of the most surprising and healing processes I have undergone in my life, so far.

     

    Of course, I know that not everyone is willing or ready to get help at first. It is not easy at all. I was completely on my own when I decided to make research to find a place to get the help I truly needed. My family underrated most of my symptoms but they did so out of the same ignorance I was under (I was not sure myself what was happening to me!). The foundation I am attending is called “La Casita”, which is Spanish for “Little House/Home”: unbelievably, after two years of treatment, this place and its people have become a new home to me. A place where I feel I am growing and I'm as safe as can be. But, things weren’t always as they are today: in two years of treatment I had relapsed so many times and failed so many others, that I wanted to abandon treatment and leave this new home for good.

     

    Today, even though I keep failing and getting frustrated, I can state I am sure of one thing: today, I have tools. That’s the most valuable thing asking for professional help and therapy have given me. I am not fully cured from my eating disorder, I’m still facing high levels of anxiety in social circumstances and I still find it hard to get up and try again every day. However, I have tools to prove myself I can get better and I’m already on my way to something better. Had I not asked for help, I doubt I would feel the way I do today or I wouldn't even be sharing this with you.

     

    The three most remarkable tools in my treatment have been daily exposure to face anxiety, medication and Mindfulness. Daily exposure to situations which made me socially anxious was the hardest of all. I kept running away from those tasks thinking that I would fail and get judged in the process. Writing this in order for it to be shared, made me feel somewhat anxious as well! But after having reflected, I can shade a completely different light on it. This and so many other instances can be seen as a chance to grow, instead of a burden or a suffering moment. Today I can remind myself that no-one is forcing me to write this or willing to judge me for what I say (as my mind would once have tried to make me believe!) And this kind of exposure is so enriching for both writers and readers that I decided I was not willing to let my automatic negative thoughts ruin it! Daily exposure as a tool gives you this kind of strength!

     

    Medication is another important backbone of treatment. I was reluctant to take pills at the beginning because of the stigma that concerns medication intake, feeling that people will definitely consider something was wrong with me if I took them, or even fearing dependency on them. With the help of my psychiatrist, I have tried several doses of anxiolytics and antidepressants to finally find what I was needing. And medication intake is slowly (really slowly!) starting to lose its stigma for me. Today I can state that medication is and will continue to be an important tool in my journey. And, no matter what, communication with the person who prescribes it is essential: no-one knows your body better than you and it is your call to listen to it and see what it is asking for! 

     

    Another amazing discovery I made during treatment was Mindfulness. There is this great quote by Milan Kundera which goes: When we ignore the body, we are more easily victimized by it.And that’s what meditation and Mindfulness helped me realize. Negative and anxious thoughts flooded my mind and, whatever used to be clear, appeared all muddy and confusing. I was becoming a victim of myself. Through treatment, I came to know that everyone had, at one point or another, been plodding in the state of a muddy mind. Keeping a register of ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) has been and is a great practice that I still need to remind myself to do: it has shown me that thoughts are not to be confounded with reality. Mindfulness eased me into being aware of my body and my physical sensations, thus, relaxing it to the point that I could concentrate on the raindrops, instead of already foreseeing and worrying about the flood. Meditation is an never-ending challenge which I still try to make a habit of, and I highly recommend it to everyone who is on a way to recovery. 

     

     As my instagram handle shows, I consider recovery to be a journey. One that I am more than glad to have once undertaken. It's the hardest of journeys but, no doubt, it has been worth it!Identifying recovery as a journey has helped me prove myself that I can travel as far as I can if I keep trying. I keep reminding myself that I can have a better life if I reflect on things and ask for help. And the most beautiful thing about recovery is knowing that you can aid others embark on the same journey as you. A journey of self-acceptance, self-love and daily positivity.

  • gEORGIA-mAI

    My mental health is something I've lived and battled with ever since I can remember. My diagnosis journey has been somewhat of a rollercoaster with my first diagnosis being Borderline Personality Disorder followed by a psychotic episode that led to talk of Schizoaffective Disorder and finally now being medicated for a 'Mood Disorder (nos) but likely Bipolar Disorder'. Knowing that I didn't fit into a box of diagnosis and all the uncertainty from different mental health professionals was something I really struggled with. Before the current medication and treatment, there was a stage where things got really bad and I was constantly in and out of A&E, doing numerous self harming acts and even attempted to take my own life followed by 2 different psychiatric hospitals admissions. Really my life was a bit of a mess, I was struggling at University, not turning up for work and most days not even getting out of bed, brushing my hair or looking after myself in anyway. I was receiving help from The Early Intervention Team and I had a supportive network around me but I just wasn't getting any better, I thought my life was going to look this way forever.
    I decided I wanted to help others who had been in similar situations to me and it changed my life. I graduated from University with a BA Honours and got my dream job working for MIND the mental health charity where I do fundraising and social media. I have my own Mental Health Awareness brand (madebygeorgiamai) and have recently started a new project called PositivePebbleProject all to raise awareness and spread love and positivity to those who need it. Unknowingly, this was my path to ‘recovery’ a concept that used to scare me but I now embrace. I want everyone to know that recovery is possible and that not everyone's path is the same. We heal in different ways at different times but it does eventually happen and it is what we all deserve.
    Lots of love, Georgia-Mai x

  • SARAH NICOLE

    Hello hi my names Sarah and I’m 18 years old. I’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anxiety and suspected bipolar. I have  suffered with my mental health since I was in year 8/9 so I was around 12. It’s been 6 very long years filled with self harming, suicide attempts,hospitalisations and sections. I never knew it would get so bad and I never for one second thought I would have to be in hospital against my will. I started seeing CAMHS when I was 16 after an incident and was offered cbt which I wasn’t engaging well in so it didn’t really have an affect on me. By this point I was dissociating multiple times a day and I was doing things I didn’t even remember happening. After my first admission to my unit I was offered dbt which I find was a lot more helpful than other therapies I had experience with. However I found going into the groups really difficult so I wasn’t getting the full programme. I ended up being admitted again in April 2017 and between then and my 18th birthday I was at my lowest point  I think I have ever been. However I got to know the most amazing patients and staff who have helped me incredible amounts and got me through that admission. I was transferred to an adult unit and I was taken off my section 3 there and got back into the community. Since then yes I have struggled immensely and still do every day but things have got that tiny bit easier. With the right medication and right therapy I think I will slowly start to get back on my feet. It’s been a long and bumpy road but all I want to say to anyone having suicidal thoughts or plans to end their life please PLEASE get in contact with someone as soon as possible. Too many people are losing their lives to these horrible illnesses. People are out there to help you please reach out. Remember ‘Alice had to fall down a dark hole to get to Wonderland’ keep on fighting things will get better💛

  • cAITLIN

    I have struggled with mental health problems since I was 15 years old and I live with anxiety and possible, not diagnosed yet, “episodic depression”. My main source of support the past year was  my high school counsellor and one or two appointments with a psychologist at Headspace; the National youth mental health foundation over here in Australia. I had always found talking to my family GP about mental health to be something I wanted to completely avoid; in the past he’s implied and gave my mother paperwork on a psychiatric illness he thought I had (that I didn’t even relate to at all). Besides the point, I met and seen a doctor that was completely new to me and he prescribed me an antidepressant that I take for anxiety and within a couple of meetings referred me to a psychologist he knew personally. Having those appointments with him really helped because it was the first time in a while that I had just sat and been somewhere focused on me and my health. As for the psychologist, her and I have only had two sessions, but, I like and want to stick with her; particularly based off the mood diary she printed for me last session. During the time of getting help I was dealing with feeling anxious. To compare; this week I’ve only had minor anxiety despite two slightly stronger flare ups, and I’ve been pretty happy . Recovery is a great thing: it gives you the opportunity to combat what you deal with and have a better opportunity at life. What’s even more amazing is how much you learn along the way; about yourself, about what works for you, about your condition/s and it’s hard to explain, but, I feel that those who have struggled say like I have with anxiety, dpdr, panic disorder, depression and PTSD that we..we have a different way of seeing the world and we can help others who are feeling the same and the world needs more people like it

  • eLIZABETH jANE

    I have struggled with mental health issues since I was about 7 years old when anxiety crept into my everyday life. Throughout my teenage years my mental health fluctuated and I developed and eating disorder. I managed to get through college and university gaining a good degree. I was stuck in an abusive relationship from the age of 19-23, it devastated me and took most of my personality with it. My mental health hit an all-time low where I was not eating, I was self-harming and was having suicidal thoughts. My partner at the time exacerbated these things and used them against me in emotional abuse as well as physical abuse. I met my new boyfriend when I finally got the courage to tell my ex that it was over and confided in my new boyfriend about the struggles I was going through, it was hard and surreal to speak out loud about it as I had never spoken about it before but it felt cathartic and very healthy. I still struggle with anxiety every day and am on regular medication for it, I have attempted suicide which was a very low point for me. Luckily, I am still here, still breathing, still being able to do the things I enjoy such as, going to work or taking a dance class. Anxiety can rob you from all rational thoughts and twist your perception of things so it you feel hopeless and defensive about everything. I ended up pushing people away and only listening to the anxiousness in my head. My eating did get better, but just recently I have relapsed, it was shortly after I lost my job, it wasn’t just a job it was my dream career that I worked so hard for but I wasn’t the person they wanted. I now have a new job that is exciting and challenging at the same time, with lots of progression so I’m always looking forwards! I am currently awaiting counselling, the waiting list is 9 months long! And keep taking every day as it comes. I’m incredibly lucky to have support from my amazing boyfriend, family and friends around me.

  • sEDONA JAMIESON

    My first few appointments with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at the end of 2016 were just the start of a whirlwind of hospital admissions, suicide attempts, and some of the most challenging moments of my life. Around this time, everything got on top of me, my anxiety, self harm, low mood, and hallucinations worsened, and previously declined referrals to CAMHS were finally accepted, seeing them a few days later for an emergency assessment. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, but my psychotic symptoms were too complex to give a name to. After I began taking a concoction of drugs to help, things continued to worsen. I was admitted to hospital 4 times after suicide attempts/ crises before I was detained by the police, sectioned and transferred to a a psychiatric unit in the spring of 2017. After a useless admission filled with numerous episodes of absconding, police car rides, general hospital visits, repeat sectioning, sedation, and restraint, I was discharged in an even worse state. The traumatic months of admissions and discharges led to the development of anorexia nervosa as I tried desperately to cope. Once again, my extreme self destructiveness was in motion and my condition deteriorated. My care was passed over to the CAMHS eating disorder team and I began intensive therapy as well as crisis team intervention, weekly bloods, and GP visits. In early 2018, I was admitted to the general ward where I was fed via a nasogastric tube and IV fluids. I was told I had days until my organs shut down. The realisation that I was actually dying hit me, and my horrible experience with the NG tube gave me a platform off which I could start recovery. I’ve chosen the hard option; fighting back is so much harder than letting anorexia take control. I’m still in the very early days, but I’ve finally realised I’m tired of defining myself by a number or a size. Slowly, I am learning that a person is worth so much more than the way they look, and through the incredible support of my family and friends, I will one day be recovered.

  • JAMIE

    ​Hello! I’m Jamie and I’m 22. I work in an office 4 days a week, volunteer in my spare time and work another job during the holidays. I love my cats, succulents, pugs, books (fantasy and sci-fi) and video games.

    I’ve had severe & complex mental health problems since I was 16. I feel it’s really important to speak up about mental health stigma and have written several articles about my mental health history and gender identity.

    I’m diagnosed with depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and I self-harm. I used to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. I have a lot of social anxiety, plus I have gender dysphoria (I’m transgender / non-binary). Also, I’m autistic and I have a hearing impairment. It feels like I have a lot going on in my medical history compared with most people my age!

    I first had mental health support from CAMHS when I was 17. I found this really helpful but unfortunately was discharged after 6 months as I turned 18. Since then, I’ve had a mixed experience of mental health services. Over the past few years, I’ve had support from: severe & complex CAMHS, 2 adult eating disorder clinics, the crisis team, 2 courses of counselling, 1 course of Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), and also had an autism assessment. The CAT in particular was helpful and also opened doors to other teams for diagnosis and support, so I’m grateful to that therapist for her support and kindness.

    Currently, I’m receiving (or waiting to receive) support from: the Gender Identity Clinic (for counselling in relation to gender), the autism specialist team (for adapted CBT) and the local support/recovery team (to join a group for anxiety). It’s been an uphill battle lately, and I’ve been fighting for over a year to receive support. Thankfully my efforts have paid off and I’m hoping to receive targeted help for my anxiety.

    Although I’m still struggling, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I find it hard to stand up for myself but over the last year I’ve been able to speak up and fight to receive support, which is something I never imagined I’d achieve.

  • maDDIE C

    Ever since I was young, I have always felt inadequate, both physically and emotionally. I remember being in primary school and creating a journal with fifty things I hated about my appearance. I would cut out things from magazines and paste them in my journal, because those images were more beautiful to me than my reflection would ever be. I remember feeling things very strongly and being deeply affected by the mean words people would say when my back was turned. When I was eight-years-old, I discovered something that would ultimately change my future. This discovery broke me, at a very young age, and forced me to grow up far before I was ready. The trust I had for people? Gone. Hiding things? I became a master at it. And this, this is just the beginning.

    When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with depression. It felt good to finally have validation for why I felt the way I did. My doctor at the time decided to prescribe me a few medications to try to help with the depression. This “prescription roulette” continued on for six years, and with it came horrible days, weeks, months, years. Some medications made me black out, others made me paranoid. Some medications made me suicidal, others made me feel crazy. I couldn’t understand why out of the 80+ medications we had tried, nothing worked.

    Regardless of the mental health rollercoaster that I experienced throughout college, I was able to graduate with a degree in advertising and get a job right away. This was my dream job. I told myself that this job would make up for the terrible things I went through in college. Boy, was I wrong…

    Two months after I started my job, I was sexually assaulted. I told very few people, but the ones I did tell shut me down. I vowed I would never share my secrets with anyone ever again. After nine months of severe depression, I decided to leave my job. I couldn’t possibly work with my mental health the way that it was. On December 31, 2017, I was at home alone. I was scrolling through the perfectly edited Instagram photos with the cheeky captions about how it was the “best year ever!!” Before I knew it, I was sobbing to myself. Uncontrollable, cathartic sobs. I couldn’t help but compare myself to these beautiful friends of mine who were all out celebrating the end to an amazing year. I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled some more until I had made my decision: I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t want to feel inadequate any longer. I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough. On December 31, 2017, I attempted suicide.

    The following day, I decided I could no longer wear this mask I had been wearing for so long. I could no longer hide the sadness and despair I was feeling. I had to tell someone. About two weeks later, I was flying across the country to a world-renowned intensive in-patient treatment center. I was in therapy from eight o’clock in the morning until dark. I did one-on-one therapy, group therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), grief counseling, meditation, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and equine therapy. I talked about things that I had kept to myself for 25 years. I worked with some of the best therapists in the country. I made goals and I achieved them. I took my therapy very seriously and was very open about my feelings. I made friends who I would talk to for hours. I did family counseling. I was so determined to be “all better” by the time I left, that I did everything at 110%. After my stay was finished, I decided that it would be best for me to go to a partial-hospitalization treatment program in California. It was only then, after I had transferred to California, that I realized that I wasn’t “all better.” You see, what they don’t tell you while you’re at in-patient treatment, is that you’re ultimately in a bubble. You have no contact to the outside world, and you are forced to focus on YOU. However, that’s not what the real world is like. There are bad people, distractions, old habits, and it is up to YOU to not succumb to those things. It is hard. So hard. I struggled for months. The post-treatment high wore off, and I was terrified. I was terrified I would end up right where I started. I had to force myself to get up and get ready for the day. I had to force myself to eat meals. I had to force myself to take care of myself. But? After a while, it started to come naturally, and it wasn’t so hard. When I began to implement this routine in my life, I started to feel a sense of purpose. I began implementing everything I learned in treatment into my daily life. I matured. I felt myself getting better each day. Was everything easy from then on? No, I lost friendships and relationships, but what changed was that even through loss, I knew I would be okay in the end. I wouldn’t let these challenges dictate my mood for the next week, month, year.

    It also became easier to share my story. I became very open about my struggle with depression and anxiety because I thought that if I could just help one person, that would be a good enough feat for me. After sharing my story publicly, I received more than thirty messages from people who were struggling with the same thing. They were asking me for help. I remember lying in bed that night and thinking that this was it. This was the reason I had to struggle. It was to be able to help others.

    I hurt for the fourteen-year-old me who just wanted to fit in and find friends. I hurt for the little girl who felt like she had to wear makeup in primary school to feel pretty. I hurt for the college student who felt like she was a burden to those around her. And what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel sad about your past. It’s okay to look back at a younger version of yourself and cry for them and the pain they endured. It’s okay because without those struggles and that pain, you would never be the person you are today. The “former you” shaped who you are and equipped you for everything that is coming.

    So, am I “all better?” No, I’m not, and I probably never will be, but I have a completely different outlook on life. I truly celebrate the good moments, no matter how small. I have found everyday things that make me smile. I have found a group of people that make me laugh. I have learned to accept who I am, both physically and mentally. I am thankful for my pains and my struggles. They have made me more compassionate toward others (and myself). They have allowed me to share my story and help others. I still face challenges every day, but I am so happy to say that I am in a better place than I was a year ago. Last month I celebrated my 25th birthday, a day I might not have seen, had I not gotten help. Getting help is not weak. Going to therapy is not weak. Showing your emotions is not weak. Being on medication is not weak. You are doing what you have to do to survive, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you do.

  • KELSEY PACETTI

    I have had to suffer with my mental illness for as long as I can remember. I am diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder.  I grew up being passed around and abandoned multiple times. My mother is currently in prison. My parents were and are drug abusers. I have been verbally abused and have felt not good enough at times. I grew up believing that feeling depressed is not okay or it was just an excuse. In 5th grade I was bullied and called a spaz multiple times and had self harmed for the first time. Middle School became cliquey and my father was going through a divorce with his second wife which took a toll on me and my siblings. I had been called a whore or a slut multiple times after almost being sexually assaulted. I was told that I self harmed for attention or I do it because other girls in my grade had done it. Many people were going around to each other saying “kill yourself” without realizing how it may actually affect another person. I had attempted to commit suicide twice and failed. I have been grounded and had my phone taken away for trying to explain my depression. I remember the first time I felt like my heart was going to explode and not realizing it was a panic attack. High School was alright at first but then my mental illness came back to haunt me. I grew up believing I was stupid and that I wouldn’t go far in life. I had been told I will turn out just like my parents. My junior year of high school my dad had moved, or in other terms, he left. I ended up living with my friend’s family. Things were good, but I also still had an aching pain inside me. I felt lonely and hurt. I ended up going to UnityPoint Health Meriter Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital for suicidal ideation. I ended up at a psychiatric hospital again a year later called St.Joseph’s. I was scared but it truly helped me and ended up being a great experience. I do think my past affects my mental health greatly, but I also believe that even if things were perfect, my mental illness would still be there. It is a part of me. I sometimes go on for weeks without showering or leaving my bed. I hear the voices in the back of my head call me names on a daily basis. I feel this way sometimes because of the smallest thing or for no reason at all. My anxiety makes it so that I cannot take standardized tests or even order pizza. I will forever be fighting this illness and will constantly be in recovery. I  am currently a part of Active Minds at Eastern Michigan University and attend therapy regularly. I know I have so many people out there to support me. I am still figuring out medication and could possibly get a new or additional diagnosis. I still get sucked in to the black hole and I am afraid of one day not coming out of it. But I enjoy helping others and educating the general public on mental health. Becoming a mental health advocate has helped me greatly to be open and accept myself. My mental illness has allowed me to be a better person and a stigma fighter! It’s okay not to be okay.

  • ANNABELLE BROWN

    My name is Annabelle Brown and I was born with Cystic Fibrosis and Diabetes. Growing up I had a fairly normal childhood; apart from having to be cautious with my health and an increased amount of infections and medications compared to my friends. As I started secondary school however things started to become more difficult. As most of you know secondary school is a constant fight for social power and, in teenage girls especially, can involve lots of friendship issues and arguments. I found myself constantly being the target of said arguments and had a couple of specific girls in years 10 & 11 decide that they didn’t like me at all- this became so bad that I was too scared to walk between classes as I would get called names, tripped over, have my hair pulled and my belongings stolen. The situation got so bad that I became extremely paranoid and anxious and ended up purposefully making myself ill in order to stay home from school. I moved to a different secondary school a year later after doing something incredibly stupid and trying to end my life; however, I again found myself in the same situations and became entangled with an incident involving social media that no one should EVER have to go through. Through my school time I was under the care of CAMHS and multiple specialist psychologists receiving CBT and regular physical exams (more than I would normally have) to monitor how my mental health was impacting my physical health. Due to all of this, and, having to grow up knowing my life expectancy is only in the 30’s/ managing extensive medical regimes, I developed Anxiety, Depression and PTSD; I am also on my third type of medication to try and relieve my symptoms in order to make life easier. However, I managed to complete my GCSE’s and get good enough A-level results in order to get into my dream university to study Biomedical Sciences (yay!) and although at times it has been incredibly hard I am now at university and functioning as an adult on my own! I now realise that things CAN get better and with practice even the hardest things can become easier.🧡

  • sHANNON SMILLIE

    My relationship with mental illness was one that I didn’t notice occurring. I was around 12 when things started to develop, and yet to this day I still cannot pin point one thing that ‘caused’ my troubles with mental health. I suppose these things start slowly though, and if I wasn’t noticing them then no one else was going to. My self esteem had always been low, so I was always my own worst critic, for everything like school, appearance, my personality. The hatred I had for myself was just something that followed me around, it was normal, so I never questioned it. I found it difficult to fit in as I was paranoid people hated me as much as I hated myself. I started to get uncomfortable around peers and even family members, then I got anxious. Simple things would set my mind and heart racing, walking past people, entering classrooms, shopping, even sitting with people I cared about. It was like constantly waiting for something to go wrong. I began to feel detached from myself, constantly anxious or numb, this led to self-harm. I couldn’t control my thoughts, or my feelings and self-harm seemed liked the only option. I missed classes, became isolated and appeared angry to those around me. I found myself getting upset around family, watching them all be happy, knowing I wasn’t but not able to tell them. It all got much worse before it got better, I hit rock bottom and hurt myself in school which led to my family finding out. I started seeing the school counsellor and had regular meetings at CAMHS, I was being 'treated' for depression, anxiety and DSH. Things didn’t improve for quite a while, I was still hurting myself in secret. I was offered medication which I chose to decline but joined a DBT group that focused on mindfulness. It was a long journey, but I have and continue to learn so much. I am better now and no longer receive help, having people around me that i care about helps me the most these days. I spend time helping others through my page Signed…Smillie where I write letters to those struggling, I also run a blog where I am open about Mental Health topics to break the stigma. Recovery is possible and worth it!

  • ASHLEY WOODS

    Heyy to all, 

    My name is Ashley, I'm 22 and I'm from Melbourne, Aus. 

     

    My mental health disorders are PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Social Anixety, Bipolar Disorder. 

    Going through a very traumatic experience at the age of 7 is what really started it all. 

    I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of 10, the social anxiety came in my teens and after a suicide attempt 12 months ago i was diagnosed with PTSD. 

    For 16 year's i never spoke to no one about my diagnoses and i never talked about any of the traumatic experiences that occurred as i was growing up because i was faced with the stigma of mental health, i was alone, never listened to or believed. I grew up intolerable, i didn't trust a soul, i was always paranoid, scared, alone and i couldn't understand why i was feeling the way i was feeling. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well at the start of high school and because of that and everything else my friendships ended and family distanced themselves from me. 

    I have made suicide attempts in the past but the biggest one for me was 12 months ago when i ended up in hospital for a couple of days and then admitted to Orygen (Youth mental health institute). Once i got out i received so much support, help from headspace, i was referred to a therapist there, work/study support and  24hr support. I accepted the help straight away because i knew i had survived for a reason and that it was time to release the burdens i had been carrying for 16 years. 

    So here i am today 12 months since everything fell apart but then came together, the weight on my shoulders is slowly lifting and i'm opening up a lot more. 

    I'm now using my experiences to spread mental health awareness to end the stigma, i volunteer at youth and adult mental health/trauma organisations, i'm able to understand and be there for other's who are dealing with their own struggles and have been through traumatic experiences and late last year i finally came out to everyone about my disorders. It's given me more confidence to not be ashamed about my past or my mental health disorders. 

    There are still hard times and struggles everyday but now there's hope.

    Hope for a better future not just for me but for us all.

     

    Respect to all Xx 

     

    Ashley 

  • SHAMILA

    Personally, I find it difficult to state when I began experiencing low self-esteem and low confidence. I first self-harmed at the age of 12 but it became an actual problem when I was 14. I started comparing myself to my friends and people who I knew which really affected me. Suicidal thoughts, restricting my intake, checking my weight, crying and self-harm became a regular routine as I was so ashamed of being different. Mid-June 2015, I took another small overdose but this time it was different. I contacted ChildLine and that was how my family discovered that I was struggling. My family decided that it was best for me to move schools and start fresh. But my health deteriorated even more. My anxiety and destructive thoughts became worse, which meant that I self-harmed significantly at school and at home. Moving schools led to bullying. Students at the school, my own cousins and other parents portrayed me negatively. As a Pakistani, the Asian community believed that I was ‘crazy’, mad’ and ‘attention seeking.’ Parents did not want their children to be friends with me since they felt that I would influence their children to become like me. This made me feel like an outcast and affected my perception of myself significantly as I believed that I was a terrible person. I thought isolating myself would make things better. I hated myself for being different and I felt like nothing will ever get better because I ruined my family’s and my own reputation. My family did not realise that I was struggling and they weren’t aware of mental health. Over time, they gained knowledge (with the help of teachers, CAMHS and social services), they learnt to accept my illnesses and learnt different ways to support me at my lowest times. Accepting help from professionals was difficult for me. I was always anxious and scared to talk about my mental health. Anxiety and depression made it extremely difficult to attend college, go out, spend time with my family, taking care of myself and even attending medical appointments. But I feel that there are more advantages of learning to conquer my struggles and figuring out how to deal with them every day. It will help me to grow as a person and will help me to raise more awareness. 

     

    Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy to manage. Practising mindfulness can help you to focus on the moment rather than worrying about the future. It encourages you to accept your emotions, see things from different perspective and realise that your thoughts are just mental episodes that cannot control us if we don’t want them to. Sleep and exercise are both important tips that can help you to feel less anxious and depressed. Exercise can help to clear your mind, boost your energy and can release good endorphins to ease anxiety. To deal with my depression and anxiety, listening to music, going out with my family, writing about how I feel have helped me to distract myself and keep me occupied rather than just staying in my room where I usually just sit and overthink. Talking to people who I trust about my feelings usually makes me feel better and because I know that I have someone to confide in someone who I can share my worries and problems to.

     

    Recovery is a long process which takes time and perseverance. Although, my journey to recovery hasn’t really started, I believe that it will make me stronger, happier and confident. Changing the way that you think of yourself, reminding yourself that you are not alone, accepting that relapse and bad days does not decrease your worth, taking care of yourself and ASKING FOR HELP are key steps that you need to take to recover.

     

    Mental health is so important. It can affect anyone. People need to raise more awareness about mental health to encourage and motivate others to seek treatment and help earlier. 

  • MERCEDES tHOMPSON

    I was diagnosed with Anxiety in 2013. Up until 2017 I thought I could manage and cope with this mental illness on my own - I was proven wrong. I lost my job, I was house bound and I lost friends. All because of my own mind. I felt so many weird sensations and emotions along the way that you would never think would be linked to what I was told was "anxiety". Everyday things became so difficult! I couldn't brush my teeth or unloading the dishwasher without crying. I decided to not take medication and instead receive group and 1-1 CBT therapy. I am now discharged as an outpatient at my local MH hospital after eight months of visiting the place once a week! I openly talk about my mental illness, never be ashamed to talk! I am by no means "cured" but my life is on the up! I am terrified that I now need to push and test myself to get back into the world. But if I don't - my anxiety will be winning. I have learned that mental health is super important! We are not our mental illness! I now try to share my knowledge from therapy and encourage others to talk. I am not ashamed to have a mental illness and neither should you. I focus on the now, the present moment (easier said than done at times) but that is the key! Live for now. Talking and receiving help was the best thing I ever done! Basically - I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not saying it will be easy for any of us to reach the end, but I'm aiming to! And you can't knock anyone for trying. 

     

    All my love and best wishes,

    Mercedes  

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