My mental health story isn’t anything spectacular or inspirational but it is all about discovering and acceptance which may be something that an everyday individual might need to read as they’re discovering different feelings and experiences in themselves.
I knew I didn’t fit the norm since 2010. I’d lost my mother when I was ten years old and I’d only started grieving when I was thirteen/ fourteen years old. I had moved to Marbella, Spain from a little village outside of Nenagh in North Tipperary and going through the wonderful stage of puberty. I watched my friends talking to their mothers about makeup, clothes and having heart-to-heart conversations. I felt I was missing this huge chunk of life as a teenage girl.
As time went on, I grew to accept what had happened in my life, but I continued to feel empty, lost and confused. I was constantly having identity crisises and worrying about how I presented myself and what friend group I fell into. I constantly felt that there was no future for me and all that was destined for me was despair. I suffered for a long time in silence until I spoke to a member of family explaining that these crisis episodes were becoming so prolonged and frequent that I would self-harm to try and find a control. Word spread across the family and I wasn’t ridiculed for hurting myself and instead embraced and guided to solutions and help.
I was put into weekly counselling for a year and I found it helped up to a certain extent. After I had covered all my past, I felt all I was doing was bringing back up material I had dealt with and having to deal with it all over again. I decided to move myself to exercise and did morning training with the rugby team to keep my mind focused and it worked – my body was reacting well to the training and it was the strongest physically that I had ever been. I knew there was more to it though and although the exercise was making me feel good, I was still having these chronic mental episodes and I knew I would have to address them.
I put it off because all I saw was that it was more financial pressure on my father, paying for counselling was enough on his plate. I stopped seeing people and became a recluse, I would sit in the library and cry while trying to concentrate for my Leaving Certificate. I kept saying to myself ‘It’s just the Leaving Cert affecting you, everyone else is chronically stressed too.’ Eventually I began to learn that money didn’t matter so long as I got better, my dad told me that a couple of months ago.
I thought it would all end when I went to college. It didn’t. My dad would get more and more confused as I would ring him one day telling him ‘Everything is coming up Dad, it’s all working out!’ and two days later calling him in fits of tears and falling apart completely. In first year of college, my grandmother who I had lived with for four years in secondary school had died. She was my best friend and I could always confide in her. It took me out, I was exhausted by even the slightest encounter with college work or meeting up with friends. One of my best friends who is a mental health advocate started to worry and asked me about counselling or looking towards any way that I could feel better.
People didn’t want to talk about it, family members were saying it was all because of my upbringing and the death of my mother shook me as a person. I knew they were wrong, I had long ago accepted the past. I didn’t see a future for me. I would wonder if I would even see Christmas the following year. That’s not being upset about the past, that is called being depressed and not able to go on with life. Luckily I had a mind sense that I couldn’t end my life no matter how much I wanted to at the worst of my episodes because I knew what it was like to lose someone close to me. Risking somebody else feeling even a fraction of how I felt, I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t do it to my family. So I picked up the courage and spoke to my friends and they were so supportive and understanding about whatever I decided to do to help myself get better and I realised I wasn’t alone.
Second year is where it started to change, I began warming to getting proper help and a proper diagnosis. I had been wavering on a few different diagnosises from the internet (Do not attempt) and it made me more confused than anything else. So after I finished second year, I went to my GP and asked if I could be passed on to a mental health analysist. It took a couple of months but I was eventually seen. My therapist, after asking me a million questions, told me that her diagnosis was I had generalised anxiety disorder, something I was starting to look into a lot in the previous months and depression with hypomania episodes. It’s a mouthfull I’m aware but when she explained what all the words meant and the symptoms I realised that she was spot on.
All of my life I had always been an anxious and cautious person, however, as I got older it was pulling me back from pushing forward. I was terrified of failure even though I continued to fall into it, I wouldn’t go on roller coasters or explore the world because of something I had seen on the news years ago. When I was younger I would fall into these anxious episodes where I couldn’t sleep, eat or concentrate, this happened especially during the Leaving Cert and when my grandmother died in college. I was constantly falling into depression no matter how good my life was going and as the years went on the episodes were prolonged until eventually I was depressed for a solid 6 months.
So nowadays, I’m on this journey of acceptance to how I’m feeling. I have a wonderful base of people that help me trudge on with life even if I’m particularly difficult and whiny. I have my fantastic days where I can get lots of stuff done and I have my horrid days where I want to watch endless pointless tv and eat everything in my wake and speak to no one. My journey is not inspirational but it is relevant that it is so important to check yourself and your mental health. Once you see a professional, you have control about what way you can help yourself whether it is yoga, meditation (Which is great for anxiety), light exercise, reading, medication or whatever you enjoy in life (music, art, whatever). Immerse yourself in things you enjoy and when you have bad days, remember there will be good days.
Life is short and we may as well enjoy it as much as we can, even if a chemical imbalance in our brain tells us not to.
Thanks for reading and see you again soon!
If you would like to hear more information about generalised anxiety disorder and depression I would highly suggest to watch these videos below.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder and the Symptoms by Osmosis (Amazing watch)
Depression and the Symptoms by Osmosis (Also good watch)