The 10th October 2019 marks World Mental Health Day and so for today’s post I thought I would share my mental health story with you. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may already know my story, however I felt like today would be a good day to share it again, especially for my new followers.
This post will give you an insight as to how I have struggled with my mental health from a young age and the day-to-day struggles that it presents in my life.
Please feel free to share your own story in the comments and lets TALK about mental health on this World Mental Health Day.
Living life with Anxiety and Emetophobia
At this stage of the post it is important to highlight the biggest problem with mental health illness – you cannot see it. If you saw me walking around town you would probably think I was just like any other woman in her 20s. I’d most likely have a smile on my face and nobody would question what that smile was hiding.
In reality that smile will be plastered on my face to hide the inner turmoil that I am fighting against.
Underneath that smile you have no idea how I’m feeling and what thoughts are bouncing around my head. I’ve spent most of my life trying to hide my anxiety so that I don’t make other people feel uncomfortable around me. Thankfully times are changing and people are becoming more and more open about their mental health.
Too many people are quick to judge someone on their mental health because they don’t show any physical signs. I am incredibly happy to be able to sat that society’s attitude towards mental health is changing. I’m only 25 but I have already seen numerous changes for the better.
Your mental health is not something you should be ashamed of; it is something that you should speak about. These days I’m very open with people about my mental health and try to encourage others to discuss it. I’ve met an amazing community in the blogging world, ranging from those who suffer with similar problems to others who just want to learn about mental health. The more we talk the more we fight the stigma associated with mental health.
My history of mental health-
I have suffered with mental health problems from a very young age. When I was much younger people’s attitudes towards mental health was different and it wasn’t spoken about so much as it is today. Despite only being 25 I have seen a huge change in how open people are about their mental health. When I was younger people’s ignorance towards mental health prevented me from receiving the help that I needed.
Anxiety was something I experienced for the first time at around the age of 6. All I knew was that it was the worst feeling in the world. As I was a child nobody really listened to me and I couldn’t articulate how I was feeling and the professionals wrongly diagnosed me as having a phobia of school. Because of this misdiagnosis I never received any help.
I was simply considered a problem child.
At the age of 10 I was struck down by food poisoning, this is where I began to discover the true root of my anxiety. I have emetophobia – a fear of vomiting. Again, the professionals were less than helpful and my family decided that for my own benefit I should be taken out of school and be home schooled. This lasted for around six months until I began secondary school. By this stage, with the help of my family, I was back to my ‘old self’ and anxiety had less of an influence over how I lived my day-to-day life. I’m not sure how I got myself through those 6 months. I sometimes wonder if it was easier back then as I didn’t understand how hugely anxiety can impact on your life. The ignorance of being a child can sometimes help you.
I’m very proud of my younger self for staring secondary school; it wasn’t easy going back to all the rumours as to why I had been away for six months. I did it though, and it made me stronger. Half way through my first year at secondary school I caught a bug and was rather publicly sick. This time my anxiety was much worse. I was unable to leave the house and was barely eating. As usual, the authorities were less than helpful and all they were concerned about was getting me back in school.
Again, it was decided that the best option would be to home school me.
I was home schooled up until the age of 16. I’m unable to recall the memories of how I coped with this bout of anxiety – I suspect my mind is trying to protect me from the trauma of the experience. Somehow I got myself back onto my feet and at the age of 16 I went to college to continue my education.
Would you believe after reading this that I now have a masters in law? I put the hard work in and refused to let my mental health dictate how I lived my life.
Despite me having spent most of my life fighting my mental health I still don’t have control over it. Almost a year ago I was struck down with a sickness bug and since then my life has been turned upside down again.
In the weeks after the illness my anxiety was slowly simmering away, waiting to rear its ugly head, however at this stage the depression was the worst. The thing that I was the most scared about had happened to me. Rationally I knew that although it was a horrible experience the act of being sick was not as bad as the anxiety.
Unfortunately rational thinking does not cure this phobia.
The past year has been the worst year of my life. I’ve made improvements in some areas of my life with my anxiety, however in others it has gotten worse. Thankfully, the depression has eased and I am taking steps to recover. I’m waiting for some CBT and I cannot wait to rebuild my life and my confidence.
Why do I blog about my mental health?
After reading my story I hope that you realise mental health problems come in all shapes and sizes and even if you can’t quite get your head around some of them, understand that they have a severe impact on people’s lives. I’ve spent most of my life fighting my anxieties and every day is a struggle for me. People have told me to just ’get over it’ or ‘to pull myself together’. I wish I could, I wish it was that easy.
If you saw me out for a walk you probably wouldn’t notice my hands were shaking, my attempts to regulate my breathing or the sheer panic in my eyes. You would just see a young woman out for a walk. Just because someone has a smile on their face doesn’t mean they aren’t battling internal demons.
Be thoughtful of others and understand that mental health isn’t something we choose.
USe this World Mental Health Day to talk abut your mental health – even if you just have a chat to me in the comments.