September 17, 2012

Sarah, a Time to Change bloggerI never thought of myself as a good liar but when I eventually faced up to my problems I realised that's what I had been doing constantly, for 3 years, to my family, my friends and even myself. I've been described as 'the best actor in the worlds worst play', which I think is appropriate. I acted like everything was perfect when it felt like the world was crashing around me.

I can't identify a moment in time when everything got difficult for me. I can't even remember a time when I was truly happy or care free. The one thing I know for sure is that I've never been happy with myself. Even when I was very young I knew I wasn't 'normal' (whatever that is supposed to mean). The fact I was different had never really bothered me until it developed into what I later found out to be a social anxiety disorder along with an eating disorder.

I was 13 and had never had a set group of friends. Everyone else had been with their friends throughout middle school and were set in their ways. I was the slightly larger side of normal for a 13 year old girl with a different taste in music and clothes to everyone else. I spent my time drifting from one group to another because I would convince myself that as much as they smiled and talked to me, they didn't want me there and I was embarrassing them with how I looked and annoying them with my likes. So I moved on.

The smile that was almost constantly painted on my face didn't indicate any problems

Throughout the constant movement of groups no one knew what was really going on. The smile that was almost constantly painted on my face didn't indicate any problems so no one thought there were any. No one knew I would cry myself to sleep every night. No one knew I was starving myself to lose the weight that I thought was keeping me from having normal friendships and relationships.

The next issue revolved around my anxiety based compulsions that started when I was 14. In an attempt to be 'normal' I started straightening my hair every morning but whenever I finished I didn't trust myself to unplug the straightener. I forced myself to take pictures on my phone of the plug out of the wall before I could leave the house without being convinced something bad would happen. This developed into me not being able to trust myself with basic tasks that any other 'normal' teenager could do with no hassle: like locking the door when leaving the house. I would take pictures of my hand on the door handle to signify it being locked.

I didn't want them thinking I was weak.

No one knew how much I was suffering. The smile stayed and I was determined to keep it that way. I became incredibly possessive about where my phone was because, if anyone got hold of it and looked at the pictures I'd been taking to keep my piece of mind, my life would unravel and the part I'd been playing for so long would crash. I didn't want them thinking I was weak. That wasn't an option, the phone stayed with me at all times. I never went anywhere without it.

These behaviours carried on unnoticed until one day when I was 16. I was sat talking to my only real friend and I don't remember why but I crumbled. The strength that I had worked so hard to hold on to was gone. The smile was washed off by the tears that I had never cried. Once I had eventually calmed down, I told him he could go if I was freaking him out and that I was just being stupid and I would be back to normal the next day. That wasn't going to happen, he told me I shouldn't have done it alone, that I wasn't any more and he would help me through this. He suggested I get an appointment with my GP and it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

I'm not perfect but I don't have to be, I'm happy

I'm now 18 and I know the worst is over. I'm not perfect but I don't have to be, I'm happy and I am finally at a place where I am not afraid to talk about what I went through. I still have difficulties everyday but don't find them as difficult to handle.

I didn't tell anyone about anything because I didn't know enough about mental health to identify my problems and I thought people would judge me as weak. I built up this appearance of being strong and being able to defeat anything that came my way but the strongest I've ever felt was the point when I realised it's OK to ask for help.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

If you're at school or college, 3 of your classmates will experience mental health problem, and most of those will have to face discrimination because of it. It’s time to #standup against the stigma. Find out more by watching our film The Stand Up Kid.


Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

ANXIETY

good 4 u girl Im 41 n have been suffering all my life.

:)

Hi, well done for writing about this. I'm so glad you found a friend who had a good idea of where to find help and that the help you found was constructive. It's a struggle living with poor mental health but there are thousands of us, together we can end the stigma. Stay positive. :) K.

Wow. This is so empowering. I

Wow. This is so empowering. I can relate to the constant lie and pretend smile. You go girl, stay strong xx

Stay Strong

Well done - it takes a lot of strength to recognise that there is a problem, more to seek help and infinitely more to talk about it openly to help those around you. By helping even one person,struggling, to see that they are not alone you are doing something great. Stay strong. X

Great post

I've never felt normal either and struggled to form friendships when I was growing up. I've suffered depression and anxiety for years but I've found social stuff easier as I've got older: I can talk to strangers pretty easily now and I used to be chronically shy and anxious. Well done for seeking help and hope things gradually get easier for you. I've found I'm more confident in myself in my 20s than I was in my teens, you get more grounded somehow.

Good for you getting the help

Good for you getting the help you needed. I wanted to let you know that I was like you in some way when you would take pictures of things you wanted to make sure you did right since you didn't trust yourself. I don't take pictures, but I will double check and sometimes a third time on things I know I did but I don't trust myself to not think something bad will happen. Or, I'll ask someone if they think something bad will happen when for example, I put my straightener in my room even though it hasn't completely cooled off yet. I know for a fact that it will be find, but in the back of my head I worry that it could cause a fire. So, your not alone when you felt that way and I try to work on it everyday so that is one less thing to think about.

Social anxiety..

Hi! I have Social Anxiety and I'm in high school too.. Im always happy when I find someone else on the internet who is fighting as hard as myself, giving support to others with SA and at the same time publishing it to the general public, making the disorder more known to those who dont have it. I hope you and I can get rid of this thing Carl

Social Anxiety

Really good post, I can completely relate except I am in college, and college for me was much more difficult. It has also made me grow so much as a person though. I also write a log where I discuss my struggles.

Social Anxiety

I'm also a high school student with social anxiety! I find comfort in the fact that I'm not alone in this sort of thing. I'm afraid to say things in the wrong way because of my SA (I'm kind of agonizing over how I should word this too), so it gives me hope when I see people gathering the courage to post comments and articles about it. Good luck & I hope it gets better!

I have always had social

I have always had social anxiety. Im 15 years old and im at school. I always feel so uncomfortable because I find it so difficult to talk to everyone apart from two people. Its horrible, especially when it comes to talking to boys. I have never told anybody about this, because I have tried to hint that it is making me feel depressed but im too nervous to say. I have a really low self confidence because I was mentally nd physically bullied, and still nobody seemed to take it seriously. I still get called names now, but I dont get physically bullied, but it made me put on weight and I hurt mself a lot. Now I feel like I am not worth a lot at all. I get.embarrased so easily it is ridiculous, I feel so stupid whenever I walk, talk or eat. Everyone looks like me as if I am weird, and I get told im weird all the time. I put a smile on all the time but im hiding how I really feel. I really need some help because im in my last year of school and I want to enjoy it and start talking to people. Please help, I need it im desperate

Social Anxiety

I never would have thought that social anxiety was classed as a mental Heath problem but I have been suffering with it myself! I can't do anything without worrying! In my school we have to do reception jobs where you have to go around classes and give messages and since i am a year 8 it is my turn for it :( I have done it once before and I nearly fainted because of the silence and everyone's eyes on me, I was happy when a test came along when it was my turn because it sounded so much more appealing to me even though I would be terrified that I would be worst in my class! My social anxiety is leading me to all sorts of problems that I don't want to go into but I get treated like a complete outcast and I only have 2 friends who I am worried will leave me because they will end up not liking me. Most nights I will cry myself to sleep for various reasons and people have said it's a phase and I will get through it but they don't know what I'm coping with. The thought of school is leaving me physically sick and no one understands me at all! I'm am in the worst place a 13 year old girl could be at the moment and I have no idea what to do about it because no one seems to care or understand...

Support

Hi Emily Hope you are doing OK. Social anxiety is quite common, and it's getting easier to open up about these issues. If you need support we have useful links here: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/help-support-services Take care, Crystal at TTC

Solutions..

for me it helped a lot reading books not just medication. The books by mark hyman on diet and the book Presence and positivity How to be happy in the 2010/2020s by Victor Hagen was the most important one for me. Read whatever works for you i guess

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments