Even though I have experienced mental illness for many years, I still question how people are going to react to me. I think stigma is still a great problem in modern society especially with the majority of the media showing negative stereotypes of mental illness. Luckily, my family, friends and teachers have been extremely supportive.
My mental health deteriorated and was affecting my life
Struggling with my mental health began as a young child. It never really troubled me too much until I hit the age of seventeen, almost ten years later. Tasks in daily life were becoming much more difficult and debilitating with my increasing anxiety. It got to a point where I started to see a hypnotherapist to help me, because the waiting list for the NHS was too long for the severity of anxiety that I was facing.
The help that I received was somewhat beneficial, but nevertheless I still ended up having a breakdown in January 2013, which led to me not being able to leave the house. Every day was full of dread, illness and exhaustion, creating many physical and mental challenges. From that day forward, my mental health deteriorated and was obliterating everything in my wake, from education to friendships and travel to talking. I was unable to go school and for the majority of the two years of my A-levels, I spent more time outside of school rather than inside.
I slowly began to tackle the things that scared me the most
From those few weeks, I had to learn everything again. I had to learn how to control my panic attacks, how to walk to the end of the road to the shop and with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), I slowly began to tackle the things that scared me the most. Although this helped me a great deal, I was still struggling with my various forms of anxiety and my depression was getting much worse. With the stigma surrounding mental health and being the age that I was, I was reluctant to take any medication. By that point however, I had three different types of therapy, but I still found life almost impossible to live. It was suggested that mediation was the way forward, and after months of avoidance, I began to take them. To this day, it is the best thing I have done.
Slowly, I could go to school more often, and panic attacks were lesser. I could begin to see friends more often and ask for things. My depression and my suicidal feelings began to slowly decrease in intensity too. As a result of my journey, this September, at almost nineteen years of age, I moved out to university and I know that without the support of those around me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t experience discrimination but I am still very lucky with the support I have
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t experience discrimination, and every single person around me understood me and supported me, but I am still very lucky with the support I have had. I hope that continuing to battle the stigma around mental illness means more people will be able to live a fuller life. I’d like to think that, even when you've lost everything, you can have the strength to keep going. Not just from yourself, but from those around you. Even if you think life's impossible there can be good just around the corner.
Amy blogs at Relief from Anxiety.