Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sunday Summary #4 Mental Health and #JustGoForAWalk

Hey lovelies, so this week has brought my living alone to an end and with Tuesday's hashtag #JustGoForAWalk I thought I'd talk about mental health and my personal story and why it's so important to me, if you didn't see my tweets I'm so passionate about mental health because how it has effected me over a series of years. I'm going to put a little *Trigger Warning* here just incase!

Growing up as a kid, I always knew there wasn't something right with me. This might sound cliche but I hated going outside, I hated summer, I hated holidays. I was always extremely self conscious, I could spend days in my room over the summers. I barely ate when I was alone. I was always weight conscious. I always felt inadequate, useless and in every way unworthy of the life I'd be given. 2010 was the first time I acted on how I felt and I self harmed. I managed to hid it for a long time. When I woke up in the morning I didn't want to be awake, I just wanted to "sleep" or be unconscious. I took sleeping pills as a way to dull out life in the evenings. This behaviour continued into 2011.

In late 2011 I broke up with my first ever boyfriend, life at home wasn't great.   kept everything to myself, I continued self harming. I pushed everyone else away and this would be when it was at it's worst. On march 4th 2011, I woke up and something just wasn't right. I could barely breathe, I'd slept 19 hours the day before, every part of my body felt heavy. I went to a friends and passed out and was hospitalised. Within hours I was told that my liver was completely shutting down ( this was no fault of my own just something that happened) that I could only have hours left of my life. For anyone that doesn't know what a failing organ feels like well I've never felt another pain like it and it is crippling. I was in so much pain, barely with it, had 3 IV's constantly running and if I'm honest I didn't care if I was going to live or die. When I started to get better, which was a miracle because my liver level was almost 100x times what can kill an average human, I was still very indifferent. Why I was in the hospital I watched two people die, one man in the room next to me and an elderly woman who died right in front of my eyes. These are the two events that changed my life. Hearing and seeing some die changed me as a person, the women I saw die had severe dementia she was screaming because she didn't know where she was, she was bleeding from nose, mouth and eyes and had an air mask on. It honestly still gives me nightmares today. I watched as she died metres in-front of room door. Even as I'm writing this part of the story I'm shaking and unable to breathe properly. If there's ever an event that changed my life, then for this is it.

Physical recovery wasn't easy. I dropped two stone in two weeks because I was unable to eat. Anything I did eat I couldn't keep down. This made my mental health worse, it really was vicious cycle till I got better in late 2011. From the moment I left that hospital I made a vow not to self harm again. I haven't since. I then had to return to school. Teenagers can be cruel and this is something I learnt first hand, from rumours I'd had a baby, suicide attempts. Oh and then I got heavily bullied by my ex and his friends. By heavily I mean receiving messages to tell me to slit my wrists in the dark and no one would have missed me if I had died. Oh and telling me I'm a liar because no 16 year old could possibly have liver failure. It got to the point my self confidence was so worn down, I stopped going to school they allowed me to study at home and sit my GCSE's and leave as soon as I had done the test. Everyone looked at me, whispered and stared and I really had the worst time and as a teenager this really destroyed me.

After GCSE's I made the decision to stay on at the same school to do my A-levels because it was the only place that did the all the coursed I wanted to do as an option ( History, English, Art and Law). I also moved into my grandparents.  I had many arguments with them and there opinions on mental health. They forced me to eat three meals a day ( I don't blame them for this), made me socialise and all it did was make me worse. They tried to force me to open up with them, and I didn't which led to argument after argument. I then left one day. I went for a walk and didn't go back for 16 hours, and I think this made me them understand that I couldn't be pushed and that although they were trying to help it just made me so much worse.

Sixth form was when I made more friends, I stopped being friends with people who had a negative affect on me. My family really helped support me, they pushed me towards getting my first real job. Getting a job helped my anxiety so much, it made me feel so "normal" it had such a positive effect on how I felt everyday. I did go on various medications but all of them made my blood condition much worse and so I had no choice but to not take them and I didn't want them anyway so it was a positive. This was when I started dating my second boyfriend, and he made me so happy, he made me feel like I was worth love and compassion. He helped me to see myself in a more positive way, and although we don't talk today I'm so grateful that I had his love and that he helped me become the person I am today. His support was life changing for me. It wasn't an easy process, but I felt better everyday. I fell in love with art and law. Art had always been my natural "talent/skill" I'd always worked hard at it and I had art therapy twice a week.

As I approached 18 and the time to start applying to uni, it took a lot of convincing for my family to let me apply. Everyone doubted that I could live away from home and I understand why. I did manage to win them around, and my grandparent's took me to all my interviews. This would be around the time that I began having trouble sleeping. I was so nervous all the time, I was a bag of nerves, I wanted to get into all the uni's I'd applied for but there was this constant doubt that I wasn't good enough that I didn't deserve it. But every part of me wanted to get away, away from the town where everyone knew who I was and where everyone thought I was a nut case. To get away from my family and friends and start a new. I got a full house of un-conditional offers and decided to go to Northampton. It wasn't the best university on my list but I didn't like the building of any of the other art building and picking a studio is like picking an outfit you're going to wear for three years, it really is a commitment.

My lack of sleep and constant self doubt made me continuously down and anxiety right up to the day I moved away. On my first night I didn't get on with any of my house mates, I was extremely home and travel sick. I hated my flat. I was so close to giving up and going home, but I wanted to do it. To prove to myself that I could. I had nightmares for my first term of uni, when I could sleep that was. I didn't make many friends at uni, I don't have that many now everyone made me so anxious. In the first term of uni my mum also got very sick. She had a series of seizures and it unnerved me so much. I started skipping studio time and staying in bed. I didn't eat very often and I was constantly upset about not seeing my boyfriend. Our relationship broke down why I was at uni and we changed as people. It was all a lot to handle but I got through it with the help of my best friend at the time ( my current boyfriend).

I did learn how to cope better at uni, I tried to sleep more although it didn't always work I started to feel more well rested. I found more things that triggered thing for my depression and I've gotten really good at seeing signs and things that depress me and dealing with them. Everything got much better in February/ March 2015, I went to Berlin my first trip with uni! I started dating my new boyfriend, my mum got better, my grades were amazing at uni. Until March 12th. I got a call to tell me that my grandad had passed away. To put some perspective here, I've never loved a family member like I loved my grandad. He was such a kind and loving man and I'll always feel blessed that I knew him. He passed away after a three year battle with cancer. He was there for me when I was at my worse and never judged any decision I ever made. It broke my heart, I couldn't face going to uni and I didn't want to go home to be around other family members grieving.  Also every time I go home I have this constant fear of running into people from high school - it really was traumatic. Even today I'm not over his death. For a brief period of time my mental health reverted to that of 2011 but I couldn't stay there, I knew he would want me to be happy he was so happy with how far I'd come and everytime I was sad I knew he wouldn't want me to be. It took a while but after a month I continued going to uni everyday and working hard.

Since then my mental health has been pretty good, I have bad days, I'll never be fully recovered and I know that. But I'm in a place where I understand my depression and I understand how to deal with it and I know ways to make myself feel better and I'm trying my hardest to be the person I want to be. I moved into a house by myself at the beginning of the summer. I was dreading it knew I wasn't ready to live by myself and I was just trying to prove deep down to everyone else that I could, and trying to prove to myself that I was in a place were I was secure enough to. Some days have been the worse. I've suffered with a few panic attacks. But I'm so proud of myself for sticking it out. Five years ago there was no way I could have done it and I'm so happy I got through it.

This brings me to the #JustGoForAWalk on twitter. The person who made the statement that going for a walk is a way to cure mental health is the most ignorant person I have ever seen in my life. I couldn't believe it. Mental health affects 1/4 of people. 1/4th of the planet, and in 2016 we're still having to argue that it a real thing. Suicide is one of the biggest killer. If anyone ever told me to go for a walk I would slap them, you wouldn't say 'Oh you've broken a bone go for a walk'. It's insulting and mental health is just as important as physical health. I'm so passionate about talking about mental health because if my experience can help even one person, or help someone learn even one thing then that makes me so happy. Mental Health really shouldn't be such a taboo subject in our day and age, the stigma surrounding it is ridiculous.

This week has actually been really good for my mental health, I've felt a lot more happier this is mostly because of my friends moving in across the road from me. They've gone out of there way to invite me to there house/go out with me and keep me company and I really couldn't thank them more for it. I've had such a great time, also my best friend moved into our house yesterday and my boyfriend is moving in as I'm writing this so things really are looking up this week.

I'd love to know everyone else's mental health story, or how/if it has affected you! Also if you got down to this part of the post thank you for reading because I know it's a long one.


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