Mental illness has been a constant struggle throughout my life. I suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalised anxiety disorder and depression. For many years, I kept this a closely guarded secret, because I was too afraid to open up to those around me, for fear of rejection, stigma and discrimination.
It wasn't until February 2018, when I became incredibly unwell and ended up bed-bound, due to my OCD and depression, that I finally plucked up the courage to open up to my family and friends and tell them what I was going through. It was only with the support of my family, that I was then able to access therapy.
However, while my family and friends tried their best to understand what I was going through, I still felt incredibly alone in my struggles. No one really understood what OCD is or how debilitating and life-altering it can be. Like so many people, a lot of my family and friends thought that 'everyone was a little OCD' because 'everyone has their own way of cleaning and doing things'. They thought that having OCD just meant that I was a bit of a 'germaphobe' and liked things to be super clean and tidy!
They couldn't understand that my OCD made me too afraid to move between rooms for fear of cross-contamination or that I was afraid of breathing in 'outside air' for fear that I was going to die from 'poisonous fumes'. They couldn't comprehend the reasons why I needed to wash my hands up to my elbows in boiling water or why I used up to 10 litres of soap a day washing my hands.
I began to feel as though they'd never understand my OCD, and the only way to find someone who would understand would be to find someone else who had the same mental illness as me. This statement isn't said out of resentment, just my acceptance that we live in a society that doesn't yet understand how serious and debilitating OCD is.
So, I decided to start a blog and Instagram account, where I began to openly share my experiences with mental illness in order to find a community for myself and also help others who like me, who felt like they were alone in their struggles.
Blogging and documenting my mental illnesses has enabled able me to help, inspire and support others going through similar situations. I've received messages and emails from both people in my personal life and people online, who have opened up to me about their own struggles with mental health after reading my blog posts. I feel incredibly proud that I've been able to get people talking more openly about mental health issues.
For me, my blog has been life-changing. It's enabled me to be part of an unbelievably supportive and caring community. I found people that I can talk to, who truly understand and don't think I'm claiming to have a mental illness for attention or will reject me as soon as I start talking about the true harsh reality of living with mental illness.
Not only have I managed to help myself and others who suffer from mental illness, my blog and Instagram account are also enabling me to do my bit to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness and change people's perceptions of what mental illness actually looks like. This something I'm very passionate about, in a world where mental illness isn't fully understood, yet.