Mental health has always been a really taboo subject that people aren’t comfortable talking about or sharing with others. Many people feel ashamed or weak and scared that people are going to judge them for it. In the last few years people have been more open about mental health and it’s a really positive thing I think. It lets people know there not alone and that they can get through things. I’ve spoke about my experience before but deleted my old blogs and I wanted to start again. So I’ll share it again.
When I was about 9/10 my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and I was at an age where I didn’t fully understand but I understood enough that it was a really bad thing. I actually got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 7/8 months after my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. I won’t bore you all but basically with type 1 diabetes you’re either born with it or it’s genetic. But, I was 10 and nobody else in my family had it the diabetes specialists believed that I actually got diabetes due to the stress of my dad being ill. So 12/13 years ago is really when my mental health issues started.
My Dad beat cancer the first time but sadly lung cancer always comes bad and dying is inevitable. So in 2010 I lost my Dad quite unexpectedly, this was a really hard time and for the first year I kind of blocked things out and pretended everything was okay and it really wasn’t. I knew I was more nervous and a bit sad but I thought that was normal because my dad had not long died. What I didn’t know was that I actually had quite severe anxiety and mild depression.
I was at a family members funeral about a year later and I had my first panic attack. My face was as white as a sheet, I felt sick, I kept nipping my hands and I thought I was going o pass out. My mum decided she needed to take me to the doctors because this was more than just feeling a bit on edge and sad.
This was the beginning of the next 8 years I’d spend receiving mental health help from the NHS. I’ve tried it all psychology’s, psychiatrists, counselling, mental health nurse, therapy and even acupuncture. First I started with a counsellor who I actually ended up seeing for 6 years and about half a year into my counselling they decided I needed something a bit more. So I started a CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) course with a psychologist and as much as this helped me with new ways of thinking. My anxiety was too severe for it to actually work because even though I knew my thoughts were irrational I couldn’t stop them and I couldn’t stop my panic attacks.
I was fed up, drained, emotionally exhausted and angry at myself for not being “normal”. In a nutshell my anxiety made me scared of doing things alone, staying over night alone, getting on public transport, going anywhere that wasn’t familiar and being in crowded places. It was unbearable I was 19 and my mum couldn’t leave me for a night because I’d sob and asked her to stay. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts and my huge fear of dying and suicide.
I’m still not sure to this day if I was ever fully suicidal or not I had thoughts constantly but I was scared of dying. Losing someone so close to me made me so aware of death and sometimes I felt so low I didn’t want to be here and having the control to end everything scared me. I remember the first time I ever felt this I was at a train station and I thought about how I could just jump in front of the train and all my sadness and pain would be over. Situations like this would play in my mind all the time I could just jump in front of a car, lie on the road, jump out someone’s car, take an overdose of my insulin and never have to deal with these feelings again. It got so bad that I refused to be alone or stay alone or do anything alone. I was constricted to my mums house, work, a pub round the corner and a few friends houses it wasn’t a life I wanted. I grew increasingly angry and frustrated with myself but nothing would ease my feelings and my life felt like it was truly at a stand still.
At the end of 2016 I met my boyfriend Calum who lived in Stirling at the time and it was so hard. I still feel bad now that he had to pick me up every weekend just to see me because I couldn’t get a train or bus alone. I was so dependent on everyone around me and I didn’t know what it felt like to be independent. My mental health started to take a bit of a toll on my relationship and Calum stood by me through it all which I’m so grateful for. I realised as well if I ever wanted a career or live with my boyfriend I’d have to leave Bonnyrigg and get out of my comfort zone.
So despite years of me saying I never wanted to be on anti depressants or any kind of medication I was referred to a diabetic psychologist and mental health nurse. None of my sessions ever really touched on my diabetes though. I remember the first time I met the psychiatrist my first words were “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not normal?” This overwhelming feeling of shame and anger had consumed me for so long I hated myself I resented the fact I didn’t think “normal”. He explained that I was normal that I just had really extreme anxiety and an inability to control my emotions healthily. He explained that the reason my anxiety wasn’t getting better with any other things I’d tried was because trust my brain was wired too anxiously to comprehend rational thoughts. So I accepted that I needed to go on anti depressants which was a really big thing for me because I always believed medication wasn’t the answer.
Anti-depressants changed my life. I can hand on heart say they were the best thing that ever happened to me. After trial and error with medication and doses I found the perfect one for me. It was like a light had been turned on in my brain and all the horrible thoughts were put behind a locked door. I started to do things on my own, I stayed alone, I started travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow on a train alone and I could cope! The things I’d been so desperately scared of and sad about disappeared and I felt like I had a new lease of life. I even applied for university got in and I’m now studying my dream course and I moved to Glasgow with Calum. I am so independent now I don’t sit in the house sobbing and having panic attacks over things that scare me. I get up and I face them. Of course I still have days I’m a bit anxious and I’ll get the bus instead of the train because there’s too many people on a train but the point is I get up and I go.
Basically the point in this long winded post (v sorry if it bored you I talk too much) is that mental health is fucking terrifying, it feels like the worlds about to end and like there’s nowhere to go. But, there is it’s so cliche but it always gets better which takes hard work but it’s worth it all. I know it’s hard to open up and it’s hard to accept that you need help but trust me when I say people are so supportive. Friends, family and even the doctors who get such a bad name for mental health help. Without the NHS I dread to think where I’d be right now I might not even be here.
Remember make your mental health a priority, open up and give yourself all the love you need especially when you’re going through a shitty time.
Rachel @ TEWP x