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 With anxiety and depression I was quiet, shy and withdrawn.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.