For as long as I remember I have been different, but maybe back then I didn't realise how much of an effect it would have on me as I got older. I'd say the realisation came in middle school; everyone seemed so care free, so happy and confident, but behind my fake smile and popular group of friends I was battling mentally. I was constantly worrying what people thought of me, why I didn't think I fitted in, that I was a outsider and nothing I said was interesting, like I wasn't good enough for anything or anyone. This carried on through my school years; I just felt like I was getting dragged through life, like it was a blur. I couldn't stop asking myself, why me?
I bottled it all up
At 17, things started to get better; I started to see a opening for me, a future where I'd be happy. Days were getting easier and more enjoyable. Then life's cruel ways shot me back down. My mum and dad had just returned from a lovely holiday when my dad was taken ill from an infection in his body from a bite he received while he was away, a week later rushed into hospital. Little did I know he wouldn't be coming out. Two weeks later, at 45, my dad passed away suddenly, due to organ failure. Devastated. Why? Such a good man. Not long after my grandfather took ill also passed away, seven months later my uncle followed with an heart attack. Yet again that same question, why me?
After this I went into deep depression, left college, left work. Drained of any hope I had for happiness, my poor family torn apart in the worst possible way. Family were battling their own grief how could I trouble them with mine? So I bottled it all up and pushed it to the back of my mind. I needed to be strong, not be weak. Oh how wrong I was. Advice to anyone suffering: bottling all of those feelings up will not help - the bottle will fill one day, and it WILL need to spill. Speak up.
I can see that it's not dark at the end of the tunnel
At 19, after two years of just trying to cope with life, I met my partner, he swept me off my feet, life had a meaning. Was my luck turning a corner? Still battling with anxiety and depression, good days and bad days. He knew I worried a little more than the average person, but he didn't know how bad this was. How could he? I didn't tell him what I was feeling. What if I lost him?
After a while my partner could read me like a book, he knew I was suffering, him and my Mum confronted me. I though for sure he would leave me, who wants to be with someone with mental health issues I thought?
Sitting here typing this, I realise I should have confided in someone a lot sooner, and urge anyone suffering in silence to do so - no one deserves to suffer alone. We don't choose to be mentally ill, who would choose that? We are human just like everyone else, we have dreams and ambitions like everyone else, just our road getting to them has more obstacles to conquer.
Two years on at 21 I still have the odd bad day, but that's it - not everyday is a bad one now! My partner and Mum have been my rocks. Therapy has done so much for me. I can see that it's not dark at the end of the tunnel. We are all in this together. Talking about it, raising awareness - we can beat this. I know I am!