August 29, 2014

It’s not everyday you find yourself admitting that you have mental health issues. Ellie After childhood years of “bad behaviour” and “awkwardness” and my teenage thoughts locked away dangerously in my own head I found myself screaming - mid argument during the longest and darkest depression I had ever endured - “there is something wrong with me!” There it was: the elephant in the room. I had just said it. Even though I had always known. My mum had always known and now we could finally do something about it. I was terrified of myself, guilty for what I had been putting my family through and was once again giving up on everything in my life, so getting help was vital.

Family and friends are the most important things when you are experiencing mental health issues

Admitting that I have a problem and asking for some help is something my mum always tells me she is proud of me for. She is my rock, and this rollercoaster few years have affected her just as much as they have affected me. Family and friends are the most important things when you are experiencing mental health issues. As my first appointment with my psychiatrist was three months away, having my mum reassuring me everyday that I was going to be ok and that I was getting the help I needed (even though I have dragged her through hell and back) is what got me through and is still what gets me through. And this is why Time to Change is so important - because everyone suffering should have someone reassuring them that they will be ok, and stigma should not be getting in the way of this.

Getting a diagnosis felt like a relief

Although it was a long process, getting the diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder/ Borderline Personality Disorder (terrifying and alarming as it sounded at the time) felt like a relief; I knew there had to be some explanation for the destructive highs, despairing lows, the painful anxiety and self hatred and destruction I had been experiencing since I was much younger. I am grateful to have uncovered the secrets my mind were hiding, only now knowing that they are buried in the minds of millions of others. I’m not the only elephant in the room: I’m one of many, which actually makes being in the room so much less intimidating. I don’t have to suffer in silence anymore, but I never should have been scared to “come out” in the first place.

We should all feel just as comfortable discussing our mental health as we do our physical health

Stigma and discrimination is all around. People referring to the unstable British weather as “bipolar” or, like today, I saw a video posted of someone being violent and the caption was “this girl is definitely bipolar”. It is degrading and it is insensitive. People don’t stop and think about what they are saying because no one understands mental illness in the way that they should in the 21st century. I have even endured discrimination from closest members of my family, who have said I am just “attention seeking”. Not everyone gets it, not everyone gets me, but that’s ok.

It bothers me - as I'm sure it bothers many of you - that, because people cannot see Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia or PTSD etc. as they see a cast on a broken leg, they pretend it isn’t there. I still get the odd “there’s nothing wrong with you” from people who simply don’t know better because they’ve never seen me when I’m manic or depressed, and some merely don’t understand what mental health issues are. The fact is that 1 in 4 people suffer with some kind of mental health issue during their life and we should all feel just as comfortable discussing our mental health as we do our physical health.

No matter where you are there will always be someone there to listen

I've written this blog let you know that some people do understand and no matter where you are there will always be someone there to listen. I know this because although I am still scared of the stigma attached to the label I’ve been given, it no longer consumes me as I have found the people who accept and do not judge it and choose to love me no matter how difficult I can be. Although I haven’t told many people, I am so glad that I have told some people - I’m so glad I got help because I know I’m on the right track. 

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