As for many young people, I found growing up difficult.
Eating issues, impulsive behavior, sleepless nights, suicide attempts, paranoia and unstable relationships. I spent my teenage years getting excessively drunk with my friends, often to mask my troubled thoughts.
University gave me lots of love and laughter, but I did have some lows…
Throughout my time at uni I was diagnosed with depression and later anxiety by various GP’s. My first encounter was at a walk-in doctor who give me anti-depressants for the first time after I told him I was uncontrollably crying for no reason. Looking back I find that upsetting I was given life-changing medication, so freely without being offered any form of counseling first or alongside it. What’s more alarming is that I’d heard many similar stories- what is happening to our NHS? Since then various GP’s have been chopping and changing my meds like no tomorrow. “We’ll try you on this one”, “Let’s up your dose ey?”, “How about if we lower your dose, see if that does you any better…”- nothing worked. I always felt just as shit. Numb. I couldn’t find pleasure in anything. I wanted to die.
When I was diagnosed with my anxiety disorder, I had practically stopped attending all of my lectures and seminars by this point. The happy, outgoing, sociable girl I once was seemed to have totally vanished. I don’t know if it was the medication or I was just going deeper and deeper into depression, maybe a bit of both. The anxiety got worse and it was making socializing even harder. I was starting to experience panic attacks at the gym, out shopping, on a night out. Everywhere. It was horrendous. I never wanted to leave the house. I felt like such a burden to everyone around me.
I ended up taking some time off from my part-time job as I felt like I couldn’t cope anymore. My employers were pretty understanding so that made me feel better about the whole situation. I was able to graduate on time and the university were always understanding and accommodating to me throughout, so for that I am grateful. I believe we should always reflect on our achievements and be proud of what we have overcome. So often, particularly when our minds are clouded by depression and anxiety, we don’t give ourselves enough credit.
After I finished university I moved home and it was then I began experiencing hallucinations and hearing things- an unusual and scary experience for me that lasted a few weeks. I haven’t had anything as horrific since. Worried for my wellbeing my Mam contacted the mental health crisis team, since then I was under the care of CAMHS. After a couple of appointments with various professionals I was given the diagnosis emotional unstability disorder/borderline personality disorder (BPD). I met with a doctor and we agreed on the right medication for my diagnosis- a mood stabilizer rather than an anti-depressant which I find suits me much better. I no longer feel lethargic, zombie-like or detached like I did on my previous medication. I almost felt relieved, as if I knew all my life I wasn’t quite right- was this the affirmation I’d been waiting for? As part of my care I would undergo 26 weeks of Cognitive Analytical Therapy.
For me, I found BPD to be about extreme intense emotions. My moods can be erratic and destructive thoughts can come from nowhere. If I love you, it will be to the death. I’m extremely thoughtful and quite a caring person. But if I go off on one, you don’t want to be around. Sometimes one thing can set me off and I could give CBB’s Kim Woodburn a run for her money.
Therapy has shown me how internalizing everything for so long has affected me. I already feel like I have grown so much through the process. It’s helped me to open up a lot and be honest with myself in ways I’ve never thought about before. I have just completed my sessions- I feel confident I have the tools to be more assertive and be my “own best friend”. I’m sure it will take time before I realize how much I have truly gained from therapy but I am already reaping the benefits. Though I was hesitant about attending at first, I am so glad I did.
But most importantly I have accepted that I am not my diagnosis. I have been given many diagnosis’ over the years and though symptoms may come and go, I will not let either of these things define me.
Start the conversation
I have only been speaking openly to my friends and family about my mental health over the past few years. I am writing about my troubles to encourage conversation and to end stigma. Mental health issues can be managed and overcome. This is why it’s so important for mental health to be valued equally to physical health.
So lets be kind, compassionate and start the conversation.
Share your stories about mental health, get in touch… It’s time to talk!