It was when I was at college that I realised why the stigma and discrimination attached to mental illness has made my recovery, and is making the recovery of many others, so much harder than it should be.

I had had an eating disorder from a young age

I had had an eating disorder from a young age after suffering abuse as a child. It took me a long time to open my eyes to the fact that not all eating disorders are the way that the media portrays them to be. I later started to suffer with depression, alongside an eating disorder and anxiety. I stopped leaving the house, left college, and pretty much stopped living life how it should be lived. Soon after I was diagnosed with ME, which further added problems.

I have just dropped out of college for the second time, as I simply cannot deal with the added pressure and comments made to me. I wasn't Hannah. I was 'the girl who doesn't bother to turn up half the time'. I felt like my identity had been stripped away from me and, like many of you know, adding more self hate will not help you get any better.

I’d miss a week of college and would study at home

It never ended: I’d miss a week of college and would study at home. I would then come in the next week, sit a test on it all and get an A. The girl next to me with 100% attendance would get a C but she'd be praised. However, I would just be repeatedly told how I was going to fail, how I had to 'force myself' to come in more, how I needed to 'try harder'. When all I wanted to do was scream back 'open your eyes'. Surely my wellbeing should be more important than your statistics?

It got to the stage where it was easier to not come in and I found myself hibernating away in my room more and more. The constant feeling of not being good enough further made me feel even less myself, which is when my eating disorder hit its worst. Before my AS exams, I snapped; I was studying so much I wasn’t sleeping, I was so low that I didn’t eat for days and ended up in hospital.

I managed to do great in my exams

The college reacted to this by sending me yet even more work and the negative comments didn’t stop. Amazingly I managed to do great in my exams, which were 3 weeks after I went into hospital. My second year at college was no better, even though I proved I could do it. The point I’m trying to make is that I should have been talked to and given more support before becoming that ill just. I was still Hannah, I still had an identity and was still a human. Having mental health problems does not make you any less of a person.

On the bright sunny side of life, there is so much in life to see and to live for, no matter what happens and even if the tunnel at the end seems blocked, you can come out of it such a strong person. Even if your accomplishment of the day is brushing your teeth, you are doing so well. It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as you get back up. I have had so much support but stigma and discrimination can still make recovery so much harder.

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Comments

Hi Hannah, your story struck

Hi Hannah, your story struck me particularly because I have the same conditions: depression, anxiety, ED and ME. When I was at college I felt similar pressure - always being told to try harder and pull myself together. Well done for recognising that other peoples attitudes are wrong and that you need to do what you need to do (like take time off and reduce the pressure on yourself) to be well, and that on some days it IS an achievement to manage even the most mundane things like brushing your teeth. xxx

stigma

Compared to years ago i find that stigma is low. Nearly every one knows someone whom suffers from mental illness and with the speed of life today there are many whom have breakdowns. People from all walks of life are addmited to hospital with their own problems. In the 1970s and 80s the nurses where fine and did all they can to help you but the general public seemed to frown on a person who is ill. In those days everything was swept under the carpet and it was hush hush. There was no imformation availiable to ease the fears about scitzophrenia and the such. Now with plenty of leaflets or books about the subject the public are enlightend as to how we cope ect. and their fears are eradicated.There is still a little stigma around.

more stigma

Stigma is just not fowarded to the mentaly ill My wife used a wheel chair due to bad arthritis and she couldent stand up long due to pain in her legs. We were once in the town centre and i was sat on a public bench with my wife besides me in her chair. Two old ladys were walking past and one said to the other LETS SIT DOWN and the other said IM NOT SITTING NEXT TO THEM we heard it quite clearly, My wife and me both have mental health issues and it got me thinking that stigma revolves around anyone who seems to be different and the only way we can deter people from thinking this way has already begun by means of this web site. Thankyou its time to talk

stigma

Reading this story and comments made me want to add my own. I believe there is still a stigma around, though things have improved. My first experience of panic/anxiety happened when I was 15, final year of school. It was dismissed as bullying - it couldn't be anything else. It lasted for a good few years before I finally started gradual steps to recovery. When 'recovered' I was keen to resume my education and went to university. Now, with a matter of weeks left on my course, my anxiety returned badly. I had been working in a group on a project and everybody talked sympathy, I continued with the work doing everything I was meant to, bar missing a few meetings. Just this past week was the presentation of the work, they told me it went well. What they failed to mention was that they decided not to use any of my work, leaving me with referal work. I can understand why they did it but in my current condition I'm dwelling on why they couldn't tell me this when I asked how it went, it is not helping my sense of wellbeing. POINT BEING...words have changed, actions haven't

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