After recent events involving the tragic suicide of Chester Bennington as well as friends struggling I thought I should make a post about my experience with mental illness.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 13 years old. I had been struggling for two years since the sudden death of my Mum and Sister as well as losing my grandparents and uncle the same year. Obviously when that amount of tragic things happen suddenly to an 11 year old it will have an effect on their mental health.
The year it all happened I was in my final year of junior school which was a small private school for girls with only 12 people per year (yes it was like hogwarts we even had separate houses.) and as this school didn’t go past junior school and their was no private school for seniors in the area I had to join an ordinary school which as you can imagine was quite a shock to the system going to classes with 30+ people in a school of thousands. Now before anyone goes int #firstworldproblems I should point out I was on scholarship there because of my grades. I was the only student in the schools history that didn’t have to take the entrance exam because my grades were so high.
I was already grieving my Mum and Sister and struggling with the process for the trial of the manslaughter of my sister (that’s another story for another time) and not coping with not getting to give her the goodbye she deserved as we couldn’t bury her for two years because of the investigation. All the sudden changes in my life made me turn against the world. I started bunking off school then just refusing to go altogether and the school was to big to even notice I wasn’t attending and for 2 years I never left the house for anything other than visiting my Aunty who lives across the street (lived, we’ve moved since then). I never so much as went for a walk and didn’t speak to anyone but my immediate family who couldn’t cope with me as they were dealing with their own grief. My father had lost his wife and child after already losing one of my brothers many years before and lost his mum and brother not long before that. My sister was just a kid only 6 at the time and my baby brother was 4 and has autism and other learning disabilities and he didn’t understand how to cope with the fact his mum and big sister wasn’t coming home. My aunt had lost her mother who she had lived with for her entire life (shes 83 now so it was a long ass time. she was her carer after she got sick then got dementia) and her little brother. No one had time for me other than to think I was just being a brat.
In reality I was fighting back at the world because I felt like if I didn’t fight I would just die. I had planned my own suicide for a long time since I was 11 and attempted it more than once in between that age and when I was finally diagnosed at 13. One time I would have certainly succeeded with my plans if my friends mum hadn’t called and talked me out of it for which I will thank her for for the rest of my life.
At 13 I was forced to go to the doctor by my dad. Then they explained that I was feeling this way because I was depressed which finally connected a lot of dots in my mind. I wasn’t just crazy or a brat I actually had something wrong with me. I started going to therapy at the child and family therapy unit where I had a mix of CBT and Art Therapy (hey don’t knock it! it was some of the most fun i’ve ever had) and I started being able to go out a bit little by little. It started with small things like going for a bike ride with two of my best friends and then I got a referral to this special school for kids who couldn’t cope with mainstream school. It was called the EV unit (emotionally vulnerable) where I only had to attend for 2 hours 4 days a week with only 3 people in my class and on fridays we got to do an activity such as kayaking, canoeing and sailing as part of a scheme called “releasing potential” (which it certainly did as it lead me to become a qualified instructor in kayaking and sailing).
The EV unit taught me to love school again. It was everything a normal school did but in a much smaller environment and we didn’t have to worry about getting to school and back as we were picked up which helped relieve the anxiety over public transport. When I reached year 9 they had decided I was now well enough to start going back to mainstream school So I was given a place at my best friends school where I started off going to okay. I had many days off but I completed the year and got good grades. Then year 10 came about which for non brits is a year where everything changes again as we start our GCSE’s that year which means we probably won’t share classes with our friends anymore and we have to work a lot harder. I lasted a month before I broke again and stopped going all together. This time instead of being sent to the EV Unit I was given a home tutor who came to my aunties house to teach me 4 days a week for two hours. She was teaching me what I needed to know to obtain 3 GCSE’s and eventually I passed them (and I got to take them at the EV Unit with all my old friends and teachers around which was very helpful for my anxiety) and it became time for me to start college.
Now by this time I once again wasn’t going out the house at all so was dragged to the doctor again and diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety for which i finally was prescribed medication to try and help me. I lasted a week into the school year before being thrown out because they didn’t want to deal with any students with mental illness and told me to try again next year if I wanted to learn.
I spent a year trying to get myself together mentally to be prepared to go back (and struggling with the move from my childhood home to a house I didn’t even know we were moving to until the day we moved and i lost everything I owned) and when the next school year came about I signed up for Performing Arts which is something I’ve always loved doing. Id performed my whole life both acting, singing, various instruments and dance (yes that’s probably shocking to most people but i did tap and ballet for 10 years) even getting the opportunity to sing at the royal festival hall in london.
I met some of the most amazing people in my life on that course who will remain dear to me for as long as i live. I was also very lucky to have teachers who understood my mental illness and gave me free reign to leave and go be on my own if i needed to or to take my work and lock myself in an empty classroom and work on my own. I still struggled with anxiety and depression and anxiety and had some really low moments but I was getting there. The next year I took a health and Social care course and It felt so much easier to cope with after getting the push I needed from good friends who always support me.
Then disaster struck the next year after a move to a different college. I was earning my A Levels when I started having vision problems. Now i’ve always had shit vision but this was on a whole new scale. Everything was doubled but with one image above the other and I couldn’t focus on anything. Then my eyesight started going all together then coming back and I got constant intense headaches. No one would believe me that there was something wrong not my family not the doctors no one. I thought I was dying and they thought it was anxiety related.
A week later I had my 2 yearly opticians appointment and I only got as far a doing the thing where they take pictures of the back of your eye when I was rushed to hospital because my optic nerve couldn’t be seen at all………turns out I could have died……..or at least lost my vision forever if they hadn’t noticed then and there something was wrong. I have a condition that causes pressure on the back of the eye and the brain effectively crushing them. I spent a month in the hospital because of this.
Now if you are wondering “Lokii what does this have to do with mental health?” well for starters imagine having everyone around you disbelieve you over something and just blame your “crazy” and then they find out something actually IS wrong and suddenly are being OTT dramatic about how much they care when they didn’t before. Second imagine yourself as someone who had spent over 2 years at a time never leaving your own home only to be kept in a hospital in a strange city whilst being in pain and not being able to see for a month. Yeah as you can imagine I was probably at my most depressed when I got released from there.
I struggled a lot after that and even attempted suicide and had to get stitches not long before Halloween last year which made me realise after how close i got that I actually DO enjoy living even If i forget that sometimes or my brain refuses to let me accept that.
Now that brings us up to almost today. In the gap in between I have started university to get my Biology Degree I even had my first real job as well as travelling around the UK for gigs or just for fun.
Basically what I wanted to say with this first post on Mental Illness was MY story of how mental illness hit me and how I learned (and still am learning) to cope with it.
I want to point out the importance of those around you because I promise no matter how much your brain tells you that you don’t have anyone that cares about you that there are a fuck tonne of people who love you and care for you and want to help you.
I will never “get better” but I can live a happy life despite my brain fucking with me.
I also want to thank at least SOME of the people in my life who have helped me in my recovery so:
Chelsea, Danny, Georgina, Sylvia, Kat, Kenny, Catfucker, Emily, Toothpick, Skywalker, EVERYONE in the Deppy gc past and present, Mikki, Roo, Everyone in TEAM P.S.FEAR, Paige, Beth, Sinead, Aunty Maggot, Aunty Kim, Jojo, Lozzypop, Cassie and the rest of the MCRmy, Crilly, FVK, Kiwi and stripper for the positive effect you have had on my life be it as a friend or through music or family You mean the world to me ❤ (but not you Chelsea you suck!)
If you are struggling and need help here are some helpful numbers for you:
Samaritans (UK, ROI): 116 123
Suicide prevention lifeline (US and Canada): 1-800-273-8255
Lifeline (aus): 13 11 14
for a better list visit here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines