How incredible is it that Mental Health is becoming a global talking point. On the TV, newspapers, social media, schools, work places almost everywhere. Yet we still have so much work to do. So much more awareness.
As this week is Mental Health Awareness week I decided to share my story in hope maybe someone will realise they’re not alone. I’m extremely nervous about this yet I want people to realise how strong we are and how important our stories are.
As a child I was always bubbly, carefree and never had a second thought on how I looked. I wore army shorts and crazy tops, never any makeup and wild hair. At the age of 14 I began to notice things change in my body, my hips grew out, my metabolism slowed, I gained weight quickly. I started to notice every other girl in the changing rooms, with their slim figures, long hair and clear skin and began to feel different. I never quite fit into school perfectly I never had a stable friendship group or had great grades. I started to feel like I was outside looking in. Around the same age I lost my Auntie Rose, a lady so close and dear to me and I guess that was the tipping point for me. At such a young and tender age I was completely and sure I wanted to take my own life. This lead to intensive counselling with CAHMS (the child & adolescent mental health services). At this age I understand what a great job these people do but at 14/15 I fucking hated it. I hated having some random lady sit there and judge me (I know now this isn’t what she did). I felt like I was breaking my mum’s heart being there so did a stupid thing, I lied every time to the lady there and quickly got dismissed, even though inside I was still crumbling away.
I tried to ignore these feelings for a little while longer, pretend they weren’t there, and this worked for a little bit. Until I made it even worse.
At 15/16 I was leaving High School and started being noticed by boys a little more. This was like finding gold dust for me, I’d been at school all these years and all of a sudden boys started to see me and not ignore me. When I think of this now I feel so daft but at the time it feels like everything. I then became conscious with myself, I started buying makeup I’d never even wore before and had to wear it everywhere. I became conscious of my body and wanted to look like the models I’d seen online, I wanted to feel beautiful. I wanted false beauty, when the whole time I was beautiful.
This quickly went out of hand, I began exercising 3/4 times a day or for hours at once. I’d consume around 500 calories or less, in fear I would become “fat”. I’d make excuses not to eat lunch, breakfast or even tea. I’d not eat high carbs and followed my mums weight watchers plan to drop weight, I went from 9 stone to 6 stone in a matter of months. I was damaging myself so much, and believed it was alright.
I then began weighing myself each day and body checking in the mirror. I would stand and squeeze my fat and feel for my squishy areas. I was forcing myself to hate myself. This began my Body Dysmorphic Disorder, My body didnt look like my body in the mirror. I felt each time I looked it was someone else looking back at me, I was seeing somebody three times the size of what I was, it was dangerous.
I then started Alevels as I went to a school that forced you into doing so. I was so thin and fragile I became so exhausted so quickly, I felt myself weaken. Over the next months my mental health declined so much, I was broken, tired, I’d cry for hours, I felt worthless. I quit, I left Alevels. Some of my teachers told me I’d never achieve anything because of this. I’d completely given up.
From February-October 2015 I wasn’t living, surviving yes but not living. It felt like everything was going wrong, something great would happen then I’d be kicked to the floor again. My anxiety was so bad I was terrified to go outside and work or even see friends. I’d stay indoors long enough that friends wouldn’t see me. Panic attacks would strike at nights, I was a mess.
During this time I was referred to IAPT, an adult mental health service. I went on a 6 week course and smaller meetings and something kinda started to click. I started to realise that mental health does begin with me. Every thought, feeling is produced by me. I am the one who controls my mind. This started to roll a sort of ball in my mind, I am in control.
In September 2015, after leaving Alevels I decided to go back to college at 17 to study Sport and Exercise Science at BTEC Level 3. I became a Fitness Instructor and slowly started to learn how I was eating was incorrect, I was hurting myself. This became more at large for me when I met my incredible boyfriend, Adam. I would sit and watch him eat, he was physically fit yet could eat so much, I couldn’t process this.
I spoke to him surrounding my anxiety and BBD and he was so supportive. I had some concrete support. He helped me learn more about food and pushed me to eat things I’d have cried at the thought of. I started to push myself to do things I’d never have done, i public spoke, went outside, went on weekends away, applied for univeristy, got a job. I started to take control of myself, my thoughts, my mind. I started to gain weight again, instead of looking in the mirror in tears I started to smile. I began working out using Blogilates at home and left the gym, away from a place full of people I could compared myself too. I learnt to love exercise for the mental benefits not physical, and my god Casey helped.
Slowly, I started to work on me, I stopped looking in the mirror, I stopped weighing myself and instead reminded myself I’m amazing the way I look. My journey will always take time and will always be happening, recovery is an up and down period of life. You must always remind yourself it takes time and love, love for yourself. You control your mind, no matter how hard that sounds you do. You are strong, beautiful and so inspiring, no matter what stage you’re at. You must keep going and not give in. If you do one day, that’s okay, get up and try again. My journey was not because of love, no, LOVE DOESNT SOLVE MENTAL HEALTH. YOU DO. I became stronger as I changed my thought process I loved myself.
Never think you’re not important because you are. Please do keep going.
If you ever need me please do message me.
In the next few weeks I will be creating a post based on healing to help you from what I have learnt.
I have so much love for you all x