I began to hear a voice in my head when I was 10 years old. At the same time I started to believe I was being watched by cameras everywhere that I went.
I came to accept that this was my life. There was never any thought that I might have a mental health issue. I didn't have any concept of what mental health was anyway.
Then I turned 16 and everything began to change. The voice I was hearing started to torment me, I grew distressed at being watched by the cameras I believed were following me, and I felt desperately unhappy day after day. "Perhaps it would be better off if I wasn't here?" became my most frequent thought.
At this point I first told a friend about my state of mind. He had noticed I hadn't been my usual self recently. Ashamed to look into his eyes, and terrified of his response, I told him "I don't think I want to live anymore."
I can't begin to describe the weight that seems to lift off your shoulders when you tell someone something that is not only 'on your mind' but seems to have actually become your mind; in fact your whole existence. That's what living with my mental illness was like before I learnt how to deal with it. But why is this? You would tell someone if there was a problem with your heart or any other organ in your body. So why not our brains?
I was afraid people would no longer think of me in the same way
Like many others with mental health issues, I was most afraid that the people around me would no longer think of me in the same way. I felt like I'd let everyone down, like it was my fault that I had come to think and feel the way I did. I also didn't want to feel like a burden to anyone. "These are the best years of your life" I was told. I didn't want to show anyone that I was in fact really suffering. My friend dealt with it brilliantly though and he took me to see my GP.
I struggled to get the care I required for some time, and this wasn't helped by the fact I kept what was happening to me a secret from the rest of my loved ones. The first they knew of my mental illness was when I was admitted to a psychiatric unit and diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder aged 20. Finally, I started to talk to the people around me; doctors, family and friends. I then began to learn how to take control and manage my condition.
Talking to them about my mental health was the best thing I have ever done. They may not have understood what was going on in my head, but the love and support they gave me got me through that very difficult time.
Why I decided to present this BBC Three documentary
This was exactly why I decided to talk publicly about my mental illness; making YouTube vlogs, speaking at events, and now presenting this BBC Three documentary as part of their mental health season. Within the programme you will see me meet six inspiring young people with various mental health problems who talk incredibly openly about their conditions.
Unfortunately they also didn't get the help they needed when they asked for it. Throughout the documentary I try to uncover why many young people with mental health problems just don't get the support and care they should.
Tragically, an average of four young people take their lives every single day in this country. Some of these deaths could have been prevented by the mental health service, as in the case of 19 year old Christopher Ferrin, whose family I meet in the programme. They talk openly about Christopher's mental health issues, in order to try and break down the stigma attached to it.
Everyone I interviewed wanted to break down mental health stigma
Everyone that I interviewed within the programme told me they had taken part in it for exactly that reason. We all want to challenge misconceptions that the public may have about mental illness, to help those that may be struggling with their mental health to have the confidence to ask for help.
Please do seek help if this all sounds familiar. There are so many places and people who can support you. Just talking to someone you trust; a friend, family member or teacher, can get you the help you need.
As for the subject of tonight's programme, I feel that are we so lucky to be able to say we have the NHS in this country, and in particular it's staff who work so hard to care for the health of us all. But something within it is not working properly when it comes to looking after young people's mental health. The system needs to be changed and improved to give everyone the right support and treatment they need to manage their mental health.