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My Mental Health Story

Where It All Started...

It is so difficult to tell people how I am feeling. Those who are closest to me know that I struggle and always say that I can speak to them, but it's not that simple. There is something in my mind that prevents me from telling them exactly what is wrong. I don't know why this happens, but I do know that I can't stop it. I so badly want to be able to open up to these people. I trust them more than anything, but I'm scared that if I say too much they'll see me differently, or hate me for how I feel, or laugh at me and call me stupid. I can't let that happen.

I have felt this way for as long as I can remember, but I didn't understand it until I was in university, and that too was only because my course involved some psychology modules. When I was in year 7, the first year of secondary school, I remember having what I thought were asthma attacks at least once a week. Thinking back to it now, though, they were definitely panic attacks. I struggled quite a lot with the transition from primary school to secondary school. It was a horrible time for me and thinking about it now is making me feel sick. I'll talk about this some other time, because I can't bring myself to think about it in detail. I honestly think that is where it all started, because I don't remember feeling that way before year 7.

It gradually got worse, especially when I moved schools. I was around 8 months into year 7 when this happened, so I had to do the whole making friends thing all over again. I struggled the first time, so this was what I was dreading the most. It wasn't just that, though. I had to learn this school's rules, which were very different to my last school. It was a lot stricter in terms of uniform and carrying bags and coats around. My old school had lockers, so I knew my stuff was safe, but this school was the complete opposite. It was a better school, but I just didn't trust anyone. They had already formed their groups, and I was the newcomer. 

I fought through the first few years, made some really good friends, but I was still struggling. Teachers constantly put me down, made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I was late a few times due to my physical health and the late detention supervisor told me that I was a failure and would never amount to anything. It's awful how people in an authoritative position use their power to make others feel like they are going to fail. 

The job of a teacher is to encourage you to do well no matter what. There were many others like this throughout my secondary school experience. Like my head of year, for example. She tried to stop me from doing my exams because I had taken some time off. I had got all the work I had missed from my teachers, and they all agreed that I was capable of sitting the exams, but the head of year tried her hardest to get me disqualified. I don't understand why. I wasn't a bad student, I just wanted to do well. I did get to do them, but I had to fight for the chance to do it, and I proved to her and all the others who didn't believe in me that I could succeed. 

I did well in my GCSEs and A Levels, despite the lack of support I had. The last few years of school weren't the best in terms of friendship groups and my personal life. I ended up getting in with the wrong crowd and making some really bad decisions. I will always regret this part of my life, and I hate the type of person I was at this point. This definitely added to my anxiety and depression. I think this is where it was really making itself known. I remember staying up all night to do coursework or revise for exams. I was barely sleeping, but no one noticed. I was always tired, but people thought I was being lazy. No one realised that I needed help and I didn't know who to turn to.

It just kept getting worse from there. No matter how hard I tried to be normal, I couldn't. I still didn't understand what was happening or why I felt so upset and drained all the time. I remember saying to family members that I think I have some mild form of depression, and I would get the response "Oh what do you have to be depressed about?" What did I have to be depressed about? I had a roof over my head, food on the table, family all around me. Why was I still unhappy? I just didn't understand it. 

When I started learning about mental health in university, this is where I realised what I was going through. Well, I had a better idea. I had always been weary of doing things, constantly worrying what people would think, or be scared that something terrible was going to happen. I tried speaking to my doctor about it but changed my mind and just said I wasn't sleeping. I was so scared of telling people what was happening to me, mostly because I didn't even understand it myself. 

I kept fighting for years and years after this, dealing with constant arguments and fights with family members, but still no one noticed. They called me rude, selfish, lazy, and told me that no one would ever want me because I only think about myself. Obviously, I'm going to be depressed and anxious if I'm constantly being told that I'm not good enough. It took a lot for people to start to see what was happening to me.

I started cutting people out of my life because I hated the type of person I was becoming. There were so many people in my life who weren't good for me. They used me, treated me like I was beneath them, ignored me unless they needed something, and it got to a point where I couldn't deal with it. I hated that people were so selfish and horrible, mainly because I knew that I wasn't like that, despite what people thought of me. I just needed some space from these people. I needed to figure out who I was and what was right for me.

Around the same time as this, which was only about a year and a half ago, I got formally diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I spoke to my doctor and we went through questions about how I feel and if I'm happy, or if I remember when I was last happy. I was offered antidepressants too, but I said no. I was referred to counselling, but I didn't hear from them and I had been waiting months. After around 6/7 months I went back to my doctor as it was getting worse, and she referred me again. I got a call the next, which was surprising, but I was so thankful. Finally, I was getting the help I so badly needed.

I also started taking antidepressants to try and control my anxiety. The depression wasn't much of a problem at this point, I was just constantly worrying. I was offered CBT which really helped and has taught me some valuable skills, but I still don't feel like my mental health has improved. If anything, it has gotten worse. Where I am at today is probably the worst I have ever been, but I'm still fighting. I won't stop fighting, I refuse to give in. I do my best to stay positive, but it can be so difficult sometimes. My family is much more understanding, because they have seen me at my worst. They've seen the panic attacks, they've seen me pass out from panicking. They've seen the fear in my eyes when I have to do something as simple as cross the road. Finally, they can see what is happening to me. I just wish someone could make it stop.

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