Hey my lovely followers! Now today’s post is a very hard one for me to write. As I type I’m thinking of every excuse to not upload this, and of course I don’t have to, but it’s something I want to talk openly about. This genuinely terrifies me but as my favourite quote says ‘If you can’t beat fear then just do it scared’. If you do not wish to read this or are triggered by these types of posts then I will not be offended and please don’t read it.
I have a mental illness. In fact I have a few. I suffer from a range of different anxiety disorders and depression. I have not self-diagnosed as I have been told by professionals. Now the reason I say this is because it’s not just a case of ‘being a bit sad’ or ‘feeling nervous’. They are debilitating illnesses that have and still do affect every aspect of my life. I will talk about this but as briefly as possible, otherwise this post will be so long…
Aged 4 I was in my first year of primary school and I was sick over someone in front of my whole class. This triggered both Emetophobia (fear of vomit) and social anxiety in my early secondary school years. I’ve had a phobia of sick for as long as I can remember and I have not been sick now for over 6 years. I’m so terrified of it that even writing the word makes me shake. When I was about 10 I performed excessive rituals to ensure I wasn’t sick and that nothing bad happened. This involved counting to ten led on every side of my body before I slept, checking food sell by dates and repeating three figured numbers in my head to ‘make sure’ I wasn’t sick for that amount of days. After a while, this happened less and less and I was not performing any rituals.
Then aged 12 I went on a school trip to Germany and I had the most horrific time. I was served raw chicken, got ill, had my first panic attack, cried all night and had to sit with teachers to make sure I calmed down. I had no idea what was happening to me, but the first panic attack I experienced was on my own, away from my parents, in a foreign country, in a grotty hotel, with only my teacher to calm me down. I was also being bullied and people that were bullying me continued to do so on this trip. One thing included stealing my hotel room key… I survived the trip and when I returned home I had no idea it would be the start of having continuous mental health problems.
I remember going to the doctors aged 13 and shaking so much with my mum that I couldn’t even speak to the doctor. He referred me to CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services) and after a ridiculous waiting time, I had a woman come to my house and sit in my living room, telling me about how my fears aren’t rational. She was right they weren’t and aren’t. But she then left and I would feel exactly the same. To be fair to her she was lovely, but it didn’t help me. Oh and then of course the worst thing that’s happened to me, happened.
I discovered that my Dad was cheating on my mum…I found pictures of a woman in her underwear on his phone and had to make the decision to tell my mum. He left that night and to this day our relationship is pretty crap. CAMHS referred me to relationship counselling, which was six sessions and then that was over and CAMHS discharged me. Great.
This is when things I thought, got buried further and further into my head and many things went from bad to worse. I became obsessed with the number three. I completed rituals in three’s to ‘stop bad things from happening’. ‘Touch that wall three times’ ‘Put that down 3 times’ ‘Drink 3 sips at a time’ ‘Touch anything with the number three on 3 times’ and on and on and on. I started self harming. I didn’t want to leave the house. I had panic attacks alone in the toilets at school. I woke up everyday sad and anxious. I had friends suffering with mental illnesses that I was trying to help. My parents were going through a divorce. I was trying to do my GCSE’s. My boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me and it just became all too much.
I had an incredible Head of Year that helped me so much throughout this time, some of which I have blocked out of mind because remembering hurts too much. I had a support worker/counsellor in school and back to CAMHS I went. This time for longer but I didn’t reach the requirements of being ‘sick enough’ to need consistent support. So I had about 8 one to one sessions, then they discharged me. I liked my Mental Health worker but as soon as I learnt to trust her, bam she was gone.
I went back to the doctors after admitting I wanted to end my life and continuing to self-harm. I didn’t want to do my life anymore, I couldn’t. I just felt like everyone was giving up on me. As soon as I made a step forward everyone thought I was fine so they discharged me. This included my counsellor at school and I told my Head of Year ‘I was fine’. I really wasn’t fine. After much negotiation with my doctor I went onto anti-depressants. I really didn’t want to but it seemed like the last option. It was terrifying but I did it and they have definitely helped me. Am I disappointed that I’m on them? Yes, but I’d rather be on them than not on them now, because it’s scary how dark things can get.
That was in November 2015 and now I have made progress, I have a job, I completed exams, I am retaking Year 12 so I can do a Childcare course, I have less panic attacks and I have challenged myself more. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have depression and anxiety anymore, I very much still have it and some days are absolute hell. I have a few good days and then I can have a really bad week. I can have a good day, then a bad day.
Anxiety, hopelessness and rituals are still a very big part of my everyday life. For example, today I went shopping and it took me 10 minutes to make a decision on one item in a shop because it wasn’t ‘perfect’. Then I had to choose the third item on every shelf rather than the first item. I had to deep breathe in a queue in a shop because there were so many people around me. I was shaking so much when paying at the till because I was scared of everyone looking at me. I had to ask my mum about the dates on food. This all still happens to me and this was just today. This was a pretty good day.
I still struggle everyday. Sometimes I don’t want to do it anymore and other days I feel like challenging myself. Some days are simply better than others and I have no control over this.
‘Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there’
I was terrified about posting this, but I want to raise awareness about mental health. I want to show that you think you know someone, but actually they could be fighting an internal battle.
Please, please, please reach out for help. There are so many websites you can look at, helplines to call and people that will listen to you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
As always, thank you so much for reading ❤
I love you all!
Love Abbie x