As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I have decided to speak out about my struggle with mental health in the hope it will give others the courage to seek help and know that they are not alone and there is always hope.
As a child, I was happy, content and surrounded by love, but at the age of 14, life changed, and I started to struggle with my mental health. I was diagnosed with depression and started counselling and medication. In the three years that followed, I recovered, and life was good again, then I lost two people that had played a massive part in my life and I spiralled back into the black hole. I went through some very turbulent times and at the age of 21 I attempted to take my own life. Thankfully, family and friends came to the rescue and got me through it and then one day, suddenly the black cloud dispersed, and I could see clearly again. With a positive outlook I began rebuilding my life and achieving many of my life goals, my career took off, I got married and brought two amazing children into the world. I will not lie and say that I was completely free from issues, but I learnt to deal with it and reach out for help when I needed it.
Fast forward 16 years, and it was all change again, I had suffered a miscarriage, my marriage was failing and my Nanna who was my rock passed away suddenly. I broke again and this time I thought beyond repair. I went through 2 years of intensive psychiatric therapy and taking so many tablets to help ease the pain I was going through but, nothing seemed to work. As with previous episodes, tablets and therapy only worked for a short period. The doctors could not understand why and then finally, I met the most amazing consultant. He took the time to listen to my history and gave me the diagnosis I maybe should have had all those years ago. Maybe life would have been so different and easier to manage? I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.
I am now completely medication free, and I have an unlimited amount of support around me from friends, family, colleagues, and the Northumberland Community Mental Health team. My road over the past few years has been up and down and at times I have thought about giving up but when those days are dark, I have reached out and talked to those around me, anyone who would listen and it’s got me through the day ready to fight the next. I have learnt to distract myself when I am feeling troubled by reading, listening to music, watching a film, colouring, and practising yoga. It is often hard to push myself to distraction but once I start an activity, it becomes easier and my thoughts shift and if that does fail, I know there is always help at the end of the phone line. I am not ashamed of my mental health, I embrace it, nor do I let it define me. I know that when I am struggling that I need to be kind to myself and take time out if I need it.
Now, as I stand here today, the current pandemic has challenged my mental health. The face-to-face contact and support I usually rely upon has been taken away. The only physical contact I have is with my children and their father. Contact with my partner, family, friends and colleagues are limited to video calls which for someone with my disorder, is very difficult. I have felt very isolated and disassociated with the world. I’ve had more down days than good days but I know that this will pass and I keep myself as busy as I can but most importantly I keep talking and taking time out to be kind to myself. The quote “We are not all in the same boat but we are all sailing in the same storm” is so true and has stopped me beating myself up when I’m finding it all too much.
I will never be free from my disorder, but day by day I am learning to live with it and find ways to manage my emotions. So, I urge those that are struggling to reach out and ask for help, never give up, keep pushing. There is always someone willing to listen; there is always hope. Never be ashamed to ask for help.
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