Change that leads to better lives

On a good day I’m not measuring myself against other people and I’m happy to be me.

#Mentalhealthawarenessweek: Our 3rd anonymous blog comes from somebody who experienced mental ill health at a young age.

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Warning: contains content that some people might find upsetting

One day I was a happy person and the next day I wasn’t. Bullying started when I was in primary school. At that age I suppose I didn’t really care – I was fearless. But, in year 8 my mentality changed overnight. I started taking on board every little thing that people said. I used to know who I was, and then one day I didn’t know who I was at all and it was terrifying.

The build-up of comments started to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to people’s ideas of me. Some days I didn’t know the person I was looking at in the mirror. I used to wear a mask to act like the version of me I thought people expected. Secondary school got difficult you had to have the newest phone, the best shoes, the nicest school bag. Facebook meant people could do and say nasty things without consequences. I didn’t realise it was happening straight away. The amount of time and effort that we all spent on getting the most friends, likes and being part of the clique. I was part of that even though I really didn’t want to be. I tried lots of different friendship groups, but I always felt like I didn’t really fit. I don’t think anybody really got to know me and I didn’t feel overly connected to them. I felt very alone. I wasn’t very comfortable with groups of girls, but boys were more straightforward and there was no second guessing. But as a girl, that was frowned upon, I was constantly having to apologise like it was against the rules.

I took it out on my family, my mum, dad and my sister. When I became mentally ill I couldn’t get out of bed and no matter what people said I thought I’m never going to be able to just get up and get on with it. So I started to think if I can’t even do that, what’s the point. I felt that if I was gone then I’d be doing everybody a favour. That was the first time I tried to commit suicide and I thought one more sleep and that will be it. I was so angry when it didn’t work, so I tried again.

I realise now that of course it would have harmed a lot of people around me. I was referred to CAMHs – and the first session felt like I needed to justify why I needed help. I felt supported by my parents, but I was still so angry and terrified at the same time. I was given medication and started therapy. I remember those sheets where you have to fill your moods on a scale and I thought this is pointless – a piece of paper isn’t going to tell you how I’m feeling, I’m going to tell you how I’m feeling.

I remember being completely drained by each session and that feeling would last for two or three days. They didn’t really delve into why I was feeling the way I was, instead they challenged why I felt like that “don’t you think that’s an unhealthy way to be feeling?”. I just wanted someone to listen rather than challenging me. I wanted someone to accept that I was feeling like that, maybe tell me others had been feeling the same and that we’d get through it.

I had talking therapy for about a year throughout my GSCEs. I was still struggling to go into school because of being around people. It used to make me shake and cry and feel physically unwell. I asked if it was possible for me to carry on learning but away from the classes – reluctantly they agreed to let me sit in the learning centre. For a week I went in and every day they would still try and make me go to class - “stop crying, you’re in year 10 now, you should know how to do this”. So I stopped going and started to be home-schooled. They only allowed me to do Maths and English and it was a struggle to get them to let me do my exams separately to the rest of the year. “Grow a thicker skin” “brush it off” they just didn’t understand my mental health issues.

I went to college after my GCSEs and at first I was doing ok. Look at you I thought – You’re making friends, you’re going out, you’re accomplishing something. I was doing so well I didn’t need to take my pills anymore, so I stopped without my doctor’s permission. Then we started taking exams, and I started criticising myself again, then I started to taking a few days off. I pretended that I was physically ill because that seemed more justified than admitting I was going downhill. I felt bad about myself, and I thought god, see you’re not good enough. I realise now that my triggers make me start to criticise myself. Judge myself. I should still be that happy go lucky person that makes people laugh and be people’s confident – that was my responsibility and when I can’t be that person I feel like I’m not measuring up to the fearless girl I was when I was growing up. It’s mind-boggling how sometimes you talk to yourself negatively and don’t realise its harming you.

Now after having CBT therapy, some days I feel fearless again, and I’ve learnt that on a bad day its ok. Everyone has bad days. I remind myself that maybe tomorrow I’ll feel better, and if not, maybe the day after that. Hearing people telling me positive feedback on how I’m doing also helps or reaching small goals I’ve set for myself.

Now I have a really good friend, she gets me, especially when it matters. I’ve also grown really close with my mum because we’ve been through so many ups and downs. Ever day I feel lucky that I have people around me that care. I now know that if there’s a good day or a bad day, I can get through it. I still question how I look and don’t necessarily like it. But I think everyone has a certain amount of self-hatred, I hope as I get older it will get easier. I still use social media and it always looks like people have got this perfect life and perfect style. On a good day I’m not measuring myself against other people and I’m happy to be me.

What I would say to others...

  • I missed my prom and a lot of other experiences through my childhood because of this illness, but I gained a bigger bolder experience of life which has made me more aware of what it means to be me. I’ve recently started to work out and that helps me to get any frustrations out in a positive way. There are some days when I wish I’d had a thicker skin, but I’m happy with where I am now. Getting through this is about talking to people around you and recognising how far you’ve come.
  • You have to remember that what you’re going through is 10 times tougher than what most other people are going through, but that makes you ten times tougher than everybody else. So, you should stick around to see how much further you can push yourself and how far you can keep going.

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