I thought as it’s mental health awareness week I would share my story of my past & current mental health battles.
When i was 15 I became ill, i struggled getting out of bed and going to school. It wasn’t for a few months when my parents realised something was really wrong and after multiple Dr’s visits and blood tests i was diagnosed with M.E also know as chronic fatigue syndrome. It wasn’t as recognised 10 years ago as it is now, and i only got diagnosed because my doctor had a family member with the same illness, and she recognised the symptoms.
The M.E got gradually worse, I stopped going to school, lost a lot of friends and some days couldn’t make it out of bed from the exhaustion and the pain in the muscles it caused me. Some days I thought Dying would be a lot easier than how i felt. That’s when the depression came in, I had never experienced depression before. I was a happy kid and loved being with my friends, and going horse riding. Not being able to leave the sofa to socialise or do anything else a normal 15/16 year old would be doing affected me mentally.
Depression is a horrific thing, as is any mental illness because people can’t see it, and they like to be able to see it and know you’re not very well. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way, I felt very alone & felt a huge burden to my family.
I went to a meeting with a few people who also had M.E in the hope it would be encouraging and friendly. Quite the opposite, I was told I’d never get better and would always be sick and to get used to it. This of course spiralled me down further. I tried counselling and talking, but I was not in the right frame of mind to accept it and let them help me.
My brother designed a daily plan for me and was incredibly encouraging as were all my family and a few select friends that stuck around, which included a five minute walk and every week we would add another minute or two to it.
I gradually over 3 or 4 years started getting better physically and mentally, once i was able to get out of the house, my mood started lifting. My parents moved house and I moved next door to a new friend who brought me into his friends group. I couldn’t be more grateful as I feel that was my turning point, I still had moments where i’d sleep all day and my mood was low, but knew it wasn’t as bad as before. another 7 years on and here i am happily married and with a beautiful 4 year old boy, I could never have imagined that at 15, at one point I didn’t think i’d be living that long – which breaks my heart to think about now.
I suffer with a mild anxiety now, and I know its because i spent so many years going through what I did. I’ve had a few panic attacks and can feel them coming on if i’m around too many people. I have social anxiety when i go somewhere new or with people I don’t know, and sometimes have it with my own friends even now. As cheesy as it sounds, deep breathing and closing my eyes really helps, or taking myself out of the situation. Sometimes i get so frustrated with myself, but then I remember how far I’ve come, and what I’ve overcome. I have beaten depression and M.E and feel amazing for it!
Anxiety is my next hurdle, but it gets easier over time, and I haven’t had a panic attack for a little while now *touch wood*.
There is such a huge stigma over mental health, and thats why I believe its so important to share your own story, and I’m so glad it’s becoming more recognised as a real illness. Just because it’s invisible does not mean it doesn’t exist!