***This post is long, deep and may contain triggers for anyone gong through self-harm or having suicidal thoughts. If you may be affected by a personal mental health story please don’t read this post. You are too special.***
For anyone struggling or needing a little self care, click here for a post I did giving a list of ideas!
Mental health is a massive issue at the moment and I think some people use the term “anxiety” wrong and maybe don’t realise it’s a real condition. You can’t just diagnose yourself with anxiety when you feel nervous about something, “oh it set my anxiety off” nah babe, it made you nervous. There’s a difference.
Anyway, for this reason I tend to keep quiet on the whole mental health thing but anyone who knows me knows my mental health journey has been anything but quiet. I have Borderline Personality Disorder.
My journey started when I was in Year 13, at 18 years old. I had a history of self harm but it started to get very serious. The first problem I had was panic attacks. I still experience panic attacks but I cope with them much better now. I would have them untriggered and every day, for two consecutive weeks I was sent home from sixth form because I would have an attack. After a week or so, I needed a release so I started self harming again. They started to really impact my daily life so I went to my GP. This was a brave decision.
Thankfully, the doctor I saw was really lovely and made me feel at ease. I told her about my panic attacks and showed her my arms, I was put on a starting dose of anti-depressants that were supposed to help lift my mood and act as an anti-anxiety to ease to regularity of attacks.
I can’t pinpoint when what happened next started, but I started hearing voices in my head. This is the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. I didn’t recognise the voices but they were always there, when they weren’t talking they were watching me. I was absolutely terrified. If I did something wrong or did/said something that made them unhappy they would hurt someone I loved. This clearly wasn’t real but at the time I was convinced and I was too scared to do anything. The voices would tell me I wasn’t good enough, that I needed to cut deeper, that nobody wanted me and general abuse about my work, my looks etc.
I wanted to kill myself.
I missed around three/four months of school due to my illness. One of the days I did manage school is when everything changed. December 10, 2015 I left a textiles lesson (a lesson where I remember EVERYTHING going wrong) to go to the toilets and self harm. The voices got louder and louder and I was paralysed. I locked myself in the school toilets, my arms were bleeding and I was asking the voices to stop shouting at me. My friends found me and got help – the Sixth Form Pastoral Manager and Safeguarding Officer of the school came and they were amazing. As were my gorgeous friends. School rang my mam, who already knew I was self harming and hearing voices, to tell her they were taking me to A&E.
They couldn’t keep me safe in school so my mam left work in tears (nice one Hannah) and met us at the hospital. I was then referred to a mental health team EIP service. This stands for Early Intervention in Psychosis. I was diagnosed as being psychotic. For this you need to be having hallucinations and delusions; the voices were audial hallucinations and the belief they would hurt my family were delusions. .
Fast forward a year, lots of appointments, psychiatrist meetings, more medication, a few relapses and here I am. Today I am off medication, living away from home, still having the odd panic attack but fighting off my demons.
Through my whole battle my family and friends were absolutely amazing and so supportive, as were a lot of the teachers at my sixth form. Like I said at the beginning, I tend to keep quiet on the whole mental health topic but I worked damn hard to get to where I am today and I have been made stronger through what happened to me. If there is a lesson to be had it is simply this: be kind and considerate. Someone could be inches away from an attack or a breakdown or reaching for the scissors – just be nice to people and that kind of help can be vital to someone.
Wow that was long and sad, but gotta love a happy ending. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one there is help out there – please reach out. Below are some help resources:
If you have made it to the end, thank you so much for reading this. Take care of yourself.