*CONTENT & TRIGGER WARNING*
We all know that I like to overshare on my blog, but I think that is why I enjoy writing it so much. I like to be honest and not put on some silly persona by pretending to be something I’m not. My blog has grown massively over the last few months, and for that, I am incredibly thankful for those who have supported me, taken time to read my blog and share it.
So, with my blog taking off and hopefully continuing to do so, I would like to use it to spread a positive message and bring awareness to something close to home. As only a few of my close friends and family know my sister has had a bit of a rough time in life and has suffered badly with her mental health. I want to use my platform to bring as much awareness to this as possible, so I decided to do a little interview with her so that she could shed some light on this for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
How Long Have You Struggled With Your Mental Health?
Pretty much since I hit puberty at 11 until the present day, bringing the grand total to 8 years now!
What Mental Health Issues Do You Suffer From?
I’m diagnosed as having, Major Depressive disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). There was talk about me having social anxiety briefly, but anyone who knows me knows confidence in social settings is definitely not something I lack.
Do You Think You Have Been Given The Support You Need?
Tricky to say. I don’t think many people would take a depressed 11-year-old seriously, and why would they?
“what do children have to be depressed about?”
I wish I had had something to be depressed about, that way it would have been an easier fix. It wasn’t until I started self-harming when I was 12 that people really started to realise: “hey this kid might be slightly fuckier than we thought”.
As of my mid to late teens though, I had a very solid support system made of both professionals, family and friends. It’s difficult to forge friendships when you don’t believe you’re going to be around for their next birthday, but I am forever grateful for the people that have stuck with me, they know who they are.
Do You Struggle With Anything In Your Day-to-Day Life?
You know when you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel like getting up? That x1000 every day. It’s like a ton of bricks on my back, you lay there wondering how long it would take you to die from dehydration/hunger, you then realise that maybe that isn’t the most ideal way to off yourself and get up regardless.
Its simple things like cleaning my teeth, brushing my hair, even just sitting in the bath can be exhausting. If by some miracle I manage to fall asleep sleeping is just as tiring as being awake.
Things ‘normal’ people don’t even think about become a gargantuan task. In the biggest lows, I don’t even have the energy or motivation to drink water, the scariest thing is you don’t even feel thirsty, it’s like your body shuts down.
Breathing? Ha-ha fuck that, I genuinely can’t be bothered to move my lungs.
Do You Think That Enough is Being Done to Support Those Who Suffer From Mental Health?
I think if you are willing to work your ass off to get help then there is plenty available but it’s often a challenge to access. I knew many young people were turned away from CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) at 14/15 even though the service ended at 18 because of how long the waiting lists were. I was lucky and managed to get help pretty early, I believe I was referred to CAHMS at 13.
People always tell you to get help, but few realise that it’s not always that straight forward. There was talk about sending me to an inpatient unit, but I was turned away because I was not high risk enough despite self-harming daily and having active plans to kill myself later that week.
In relation to that, the careers of people (especially young people) who suffer from mental health disorders are very rarely supported, after a lengthy stay in hospital at 16. My mum expressed that she was worried that if she fell asleep even for a second, I would try and kill myself. She was told that she would just have to stay up and watch me then and was shown little empathy from some of the mental health staff.
I can’t really comment on the accessibly of adult services as I haven’t needed to access them yet.
Would You Like To Share When You Have Felt At Your Lowest?
As I’m sure you suspected, it was probably the night of my suicide attempt. I don’t actually remember a whole lot about it, my memory of the event is fragmented at best, but I’ll try my best.
The thing about depression is it isn’t just sadness. Its overwhelming nothingness. It’s almost like an out of body experience, I lack empathy or any emotion at all really, I just become a machine that’s only function is “breathe in, heartbeat, breathe out, repeat”.
I would 100% take sadness over numbness any day.
Feeling nothing is by far the scariest thing I have ever gone through. Like I mentioned above, its not just the absence of emotion, it’s the indifference to living. I had no desire or want to eat or drink. Despite not drinking for almost 2 days I wasn’t thirsty. Breathing felt like I was pushing my body to its limits.
It was too much effort to even take a breath.
Actually deciding to kill myself was quite a quick decision. There had been 4 or 5 occasions in the past where I had been stood on a stool with a noose around my neck, but I always backed out. I didn’t write a note, despite having several rough drafts on my computer.
I got up from bed, and took a half-hearted overdose of my anti-depressants, I remember how easy it was to get up, I felt excited and ready which is a big step up from “nothing” I lobbed on some shit sad indie music and hung myself.
I don’t really remember how long I was hanging; I don’t think it could have been more than 6 minutes but by the time I was found I was pretty much unconscious and going into shock. I’m not going to lie it was pretty shit. Fading in and out was a surreal experience; Everything was chaos around me but I had never felt as calm and relaxed, it was like being underwater.
Mum had rung an ambulance and my brother who came and sat with me. I genuinely believe that he is the reason I’m still here. Breathing was even more of an effort now, I had to force air in and out of my lungs consciously, sometimes I felt it slow and I’d start to fade out and he would squeeze my hand and ask me to hold on and it made me want to breathe for the first time in about a week. 2 years later he continues to inspire me every day and I will be forever grateful for how much he helped me.
I lied there waiting for the ambulance and considered my actions.
Despite the effect it had my family, I still wanted to die. By the time we reached the hospital, I was pretty much fully conscious and now the guilt set in; it was crippling and came in waves. It was an odd mix of “I can’t believe I’d do this to my family” and “Why are they keeping me alive when I’m clearly suffering, why not just let me die?”. I cried a lot that night, which in all honesty was a nice change from nothingness.
That night was simultaneously one of the scariest, frustrating, and sobering nights of my entire life. There are a few more fun details but that’s the gist. Low doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt.
What Is The Worst Thing You Can Say To Someone Suffering From Mental Health?
Telling them that “they have nothing to be sad about” is a personal favourite, closely followed by “other people have it worse”
You don’t need to go through a certain amount of shit before you are allowed to be sad.
Can You Describe What It Is Like To Have Depression?
I can’t answer this for everyone. Depression, much like brain chemistry is tailor-made to its host.
But like I’ve mentioned, for me, at its best depression is a nagging feeling that can be overshadowed by good shit. And at its absolute worst the crippling indifference to exist. Sadness ebbs and flows but numbness feels endless.
The entire thing is a spectrum.
What Advice Would You Give To Someone Else Struggling?
At the risk of sounding like everyone ever, try and hard as you can to get some kind of help, and it’s ok if you don’t get along with a therapist! I had 4-5 different ones before I found one that really helped me. It can be exhausting but so worth it.
It will get better. But you have to be the one to make it better. The cornerstone of recovery has to come from you. I have had endless support from my friends and family but in the end, only I could be the one to make those changes. It’s shit a lot of the time it’s an uphill battle but it really does get easier, you have an army of people who want to see you succeed.
I decided that I was going to get better, and it has been a long road but I’m finally at a point where I have more good days than bad. Don’t give up because holy fuck, there’s still so much life left to live.
I think this interview is important as I do not suffer from mental health myself, and I wanted to share what it is like for people struggling. If you need to speak to someone, then please call Mind on 0300 123 3393 or visit www.mind.org.uk.