Since I was 13 I had episodes of depression which resulted in a self harm habit in order to cope with such intense feelings at a young age. Many kids my age didn't understand why I would cry all the time, I even got bullied saying I was 'attention seeking' and then on top of this I lost 3 of my closest friends because they couldn't handle me at my worst. Through all this though, I had one friend, who stuck by me, was there when I needed her and now I see her more as family. I think what made her stand by me was her understanding of mental illness as a relative of hers had been through one. I can happily say she is still in my life today and I trust that whenever I get ill she’ll be there, as I would for her.
Getting a diagnosis was a huge weight off my shoulders
I only got diagnosed last year when I was 20 with Borderline Personality disorder. Even getting a diagnosis was a struggle, the waiting list was long and I had to keep chasing up my appointment, which I’m sure would have put a lot of people off getting help. When I finally got a diagnosis, it felt like a huge weight of my shoulders, to be able to finally put a name to this thing I had struggled with most of my life. Of course it didn't help with any of the symptoms like intense emotions but it helped me to understand how my brain worked and why I would feel these things. I researched about my illness and was able to explain things much better to my family and friends and even find the right treatment for me. With a mental illness, there isn’t anything physical that people can see, there are no scans to show your family but having the correct research is the best way to explain the things we cannot see.
My employers were supportive when I told them about my borderline personality disorder
Like a lot of those who suffer with a mental illness, I had to take some time off work to help myself recover. I felt I had to be honest, no matter the consequences, so I told my employers about my borderline personality disorder. They were all very supportive and wanted to learn more about it, and some even shared their own experiences of mental illness with me!
I still get people who struggle to understand it, for example I recently lost my boyfriend because he couldn't handle it and didn't know how to tell me. If we had talked about it properly and he had understood more about my illness it may not have come to an end. However difficult it can be to talk about mental illness, it’s the only way we can really help and understand those who need it.
The best advice I can give: there is hope
The best advice I can give to those going through a mental illness is that there is hope, and it does get better, with a lot of strength you can get through it. To relatives and friends of those with a mental illness, just letting them know you care and are there to listen is the best thing you can do. Standing by someone in such a difficult time shows what an amazing friend you are and they will be so grateful when they recover.
I've come to see who my real friends are and who I can rely on in my difficult times. I also feel much stronger for being honest and talking about my condition, as for me, it's not something to ashamed of. Every other part of the body gets ill so why can't the brain?