November 13, 2015

How to make a long story short?Jo's blog I’ll try my best! I am a 28 year old woman, a mum to seven year old gorgeous boy. I graduated from university last year with 2:1 degree. I live in a nice area, I have pets which I adore, a bunch of true friends. What else could I wish for? But not everything is great – I struggle with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with anxiety attacks and OCD before my 18th birthday and, when I was around 20, I started to suffer from episodes of depression and anxiety on and off. I’ve never had a year’s break from this terrible illness. Last year I was going to do a master’s degree in social work but I couldn’t: illness took over it. I still haven’t fully recovered from this toughest episode ever; it’s almost a year now and still every day is a struggle. I do make slow progress – that’s on the bright side.

I blamed myself that I couldn’t be like people out there, enjoying themselves

I must say that without the support of my mum and my friends, I wouldn’t manage. They helped me through my darkest days, my mum stayed with me and my boy for months, they listened my ‘utter nonsense talking’ (my words) which I repeated over and over again, they gave me the hope at times that I didn’t have it myself. I had many days that I could not move out of bed I didn’t have physical energy: even when I tried hard and did get up, the view from my window seemed terrifying. People smiling, talking and enjoying themselves - I blamed myself that I couldn’t be like them, even I wanted to so much. Half an hour walk was often too much, pain inside was horrendous, I can’t describe it. And again I blamed myself, I self-stigmatised. Many times I said I didn’t belong to this society - I wasn’t fit enough.

The discrimination started with me

During the school runs (when I managed to do them, of course) I dreaded that other parents would want to have a chat. Have a chat with me? I wasn’t good enough- that’s what I thought. I could go on and on and give you more examples but I am sure you are familiar what I am trying to explain. And again the discrimination started with me.

It really is 'time to change'

Sharing my story will hopefully encourage me to start talking about my mental health - I will not be ashamed anymore that I suffer from mental illness. 1 in 4 people experiences a mental health problem at any point in their life - I love the Time to Change campaign and it is really ‘time to change’. I am hoping my post will encourage other people to open up about their experiences. We need to start with ourselves first, that is what I am going to do.

Lots of love - Joanna

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