People think that mental illness is something to be ashamed of. I'm not ashamed.

For as long as I can remember I have felt like I have been burdened by living with mental health issues which almost ruined my life. The thing is, I didn’t let it, I won’t let it and as I’ve come to accept my issues - they are no longer a burden. 

I didn't know what was happening

My “problems” started at an early age; I was quiet, but with friends and family I was outgoing and full of life. I didn’t fit in too well at school because I was shy; that’s when the anxiety started. Attacks every morning and night.  Classmates would witness these and notice my absences - they used this as ammunition to bully me. I didn’t know what was happening. I just felt sick. That’s when the depression crept in.

I felt like everything was all my fault

Getting out of bed was a chore, I had no energy and wanted to be alone. I started to self harm as a way of coping, a way of keeping calm. 

After 5 years of suffering in silence my scars were noticed. My mum took me straight to the doctors. With anxiety and depression I was quiet, shy and withdrawn. I didn’t like speaking. So when my doctor started asking me questions I couldn’t answer. That’s when I first really felt judged for having these issues. My doctor, of all people, turned to me and said “Chrissie you are a very ignorant young girl." Everything started spinning, I felt like everything was all my fault. I felt like I shouldn’t feel the way I did and that I should just get over it. I felt like a failure and let down to be putting my family through what I had. I felt so much guilt that I let that eat me up even more. I felt ignorant, but I couldn’t physically speak. I was so scared and ashamed of what I felt - even more so after that visit to the doctors. 

My mum got me to my appointment

After seeing another doctor I was given appointment for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and a psychiatrist. By then I was scared to leave the house, I was having constant panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and using unhealthy coping mechanisms. I had lost my friends and spent my time in my room, I didn’t sleep and I barely ate. I thought my life was over and honestly I didn’t feel I had the energy to save myself. 

The morning of the appointment I lost control of my breathing, I felt sick and everything was spinning. I was crying, but mum wasn’t going to give up on me. She got me there. I headed straight for the bathroom and locked myself in.  A few moments later there was a knock on the door “Hi Chrissie, my name is Sarah”. That was the start of one of the most important relationships I was ever going to have. 

My therapist gave me hope

Sarah was my therapist.  She put me at ease and I was willing to give this a try. We spoke to the psychiatrist, he prescribed me antidepressants to give me a boost to get me to my sessions. I was a 16 year old girl relying on medication to get out of the house for one hour for a therapy session. I was ashamed.  Week after week my mum would drag me out of bed and drive me to sessions while I would cry and shake in the back seat. 

After a few months I turned up at my session, calm, no tears and breathing normally. I still felt sick but I had no attack, Sarah praised me, my mum praised me and then I smiled. A smile, which for the first time in years I really meant. Before I knew it I was going out and seeing friends! Sarah and my mum stood by me the whole way through until we all thought I had reached the point where I didn’t need Sarah anymore. Now I would go as far as to say Sarah saved my life, she gave me hope and she showed me how to live. 

Each time I come back stronger

I had a good life, amazing family and good friends before this. What was my problem? 

I know now there was no problem. We never found a definite reason for how I was feeling - I’ve come to accept now that this is a part of me, always has been and always will be. I still have bad days, bad weeks - sometimes bad months. Each time I come back stronger. People think that mental illness is something to be ashamed of, or people need to be treated differently. I’m not ashamed.  I still suffer from depression and anxiety, but I feel that it has made me a stronger, more independent person. It is hard, but this is who I am.

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Comments

Thank You and Well Done

Brilliant post, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I always find it such a relief to hear that there are others out there feeling/thinking similar things to myself. And coming out the other side stronger for it. You are an inspiration and clearly an independent, strong and brave woman. Thanks so much. You should be super proud of yourself.

Chrissie, firstly well done

Chrissie, firstly well done for telling us what you have been through. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I felt a failure and that there was nothing I could do. My therapist was called Kelly and she was truly great. Slowly she got me through a bleak period of my life and I try and keep seeing the positives in life. From her support and my family I have got a new job which involved going to college to study. I do suffer from procrastination at times but do try to make sure I don't leave things last minute. Also I had a problem with perfectionism. Always felt that I should be the best at everything but at the same time too frightened to attempt anything in case it was rubbish or I failed. That pushed the procastinating onwards. So it was a vicious circle. It is amazing how little things can do so much to help you keep going. Keep going Chrissie. The future is bright and the future is all yours girl. sie

Chrissi

Thanks Chrissi for your description of depression and anxiety. If more of us are open and honest about their own mental health eventually the stigma will grow less and less, but this may take a long time because as you said in your blog you didn't get any support from your GP. This is the first contact with medical support most of us have and their training leaves them sorely lacking in any real understanding of our condition. Just saying the wrong thing to someone at this crucial time can do so much damage even cause people to take their own lives. I'm glad you got the help you needed eventually. I find it so sad that not everyone does. I wish you a happy and healthy life.

Powerful.

What a brilliant piece. Well done on speaking out - it takes courage and strength. You have described your depression and anxiety so well. Acceptance seems like the key for you, and that's amazing that you now recognize that. I hope that you continue to remain strong and resilient. Well done, you're an inspiration.

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