In my experience, and I imagine most people’s, dealing with others’ suggestions of what to do about your mental health can be like fending off thrown stones when you’re already down. ‘Why don’t you try’ and ‘you should consider’ ring through your already frazzled mind and make you feel worse for each one you don’t attempt or accomplish. Whether you can’t manage the advised course or have already tried it, or if it’s not right for you, the result is the same – you feel like a failure because of it.
I work in a large factory, so I meet a lot of people with very different attitudes and opinions about mental health. I was diagnosed with severe depression just over 8 years ago. At that time I had a few months off work, had counselling and went on to medication. My employers were good and understanding. But the people I work with are a different matter.
I don’t advertise that I have depression but I make no secret of it. If someone wants to talk to me about it, I will talk. And a few people have genuinely been interested.
So here I am, at the end of a whirlwind of an incredible but tough journey. It has taken me over a year to accept that I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and that I also have an eating disorder. Well actually I’m in recovery for an eating disorder. Thanks to a person-centred service, I now have the strategies and the ability to cope with life.
I was starting my first year of University and I thought it was going to be a fresh start to my life. It wasn’t like that. My past problems followed me and continue to overtake and confuse me. I was unhappy most of the time, and when I thought things were going well, another obstacle threw me off the rails of happiness.
Once I was told that I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), everything clicked into place, as if it was the missing piece of the puzzle as to why I acted the way I did with my mental health.
When I landed my dream job as an editor at Oxford University Press, I thought I had my career mapped out ahead of me. I started my first ‘proper’ job bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, excited to develop myself and be involved in the wonderful world of publishing.
What I didn’t anticipate, however, was that a few months into my new job, anorexia would rear its incredibly ugly head and do its utmost to destroy me, taking my career with it.