I apologise in advance for this long-ass post! Okay, so today’s post is a pretty personal one and it’s something that I have wanted to write about for a while now. Today is Time to Talk Day, so what perfect way to end mental health discrimination than by talking openly about my mental health journey. I hope by reading this you will not only understand a bit about what I and 1 in 4 people can live with but also make it easier to be there for someone who needs your help.
I’ve always been a worrier. Even when I was little, my mum would always say that I never lived in the moment. I was always worried about what would happen next. My entire childhood was spent asking myself the dreaded “what if” question. I would finish school on Friday and spend the entire weekend worrying about going back on Monday. By the time GCSEs and A-Levels came around I had developed anxiety and an eating disorder, so yeah… that kinda sucked.
Looking back, deciding to go to university probably wasn’t the best option for me at the time. My mental health suffered in my first year. I struggled to make friends because I wasn’t a typical “party” student due to social anxiety and the fact that drinking makes my anxiety worse. I was so close to dropping out. Attending lectures became too difficult because I was so anxious, and when I did attend them, I would have to sit right by the door so I could leave as soon as it became too overwhelming. I tried counselling but I found that it didn’t work for me, I just felt like all it did was remind me of all the bad times instead of trying to find ways to cope. Visited my GP but we decided against going on anti-depressants in case I became too reliant on them in the future. BOY was that a big mistake!
After two years at uni, it was time to move for my placement year. Great, I thought, a chance to get a fresh start, away from the pressures of university. Little did I know it would be one of the worst years of my life… if you thought this post was already bleak, just you wait! On my first day on the job, I got a phone call to say my step-dad had suffered a stroke and my mum had to quit her job to become his full-time carer. A few months later my relationship ended. Two months after that my grandma passed away. And to top it all off, whilst all of this was happening, I was in a job where my bosses were emotionally abusive towards me and I was struggling to pay my rent…
…and breathe…. sorry, it was getting a bit deep there, here is a photo of an adorable puppy!
After I finished my placement I was so looking forward to going home to relax… but I couldn’t. I hadn’t had time to process everything that had happened. I was terrified that my bosses still had some sort of weird power over me. I’d developed severe depression and had a massive breakdown. I wanted to postpone the final year of my degree until I could cope. Luckily my mum was very, very supportive! She came with me to see my GP. It was then that I discovered that the warning signs were there 4 years ago… I would’ve been in a better position if I’d have started taking the anti-depressants back then (cheers…thanks for the heads up mate, a bit late now…). So the decision was made for me to start taking Citalopram.
Anyway, fast forward almost 6 months and here I am… at uni! After everything I’d been through, it felt silly to postpone and spend a year moping about. I’m in a much better place now! The Citalopram worked great (though it did make me…I don’t know… not give a shit anymore?…if that makes sense haha) but I was getting really horrible nightmares, which is a side effect of the drug. Last week I switched over to Sertraline, so fingers crossed that works better!
I’m not saying that I’m 100%, there are still bad days where I struggle to get out of bed, go to lectures, and I still struggle a lot with social anxiety. But, for the first time in a long time, I can say that I am probably the happiest I have been in a while. I think a lot of that is down to starting my blog! I’ve met some amazing people! The blogging community is such a loving and caring place. I feel like I have two personas (like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce!). Blogging helps me to express who I really am without fear of judgement… gosh that sounds so cheesy… but it’s true!
So yeah, that’s me and my life… sorry for bumming you all out but we have to break this stigma that talking about mental health is “taboo”. Also, everyone struggles with mental health differently and no two people are the same. This is why it is important to talk to someone and help them understand how it affects you personally. Whatever you do, do not say to someone “don’t worry about it” or “you’ll get over it”… this is not helpful AT ALL. You are not alone! If you are struggling please to talk to someone! Whether it is a relative, close friend, doctor, MIND or the Samaritans, they are all there to help!
Sorry guys, normal service will be resumed next week!
p.s. are you doing anything for Time to Talk Day?