I am fortunate enough to say I had a relatively happy childhood, I didn’t ever want for anything. Having said that, I started to notice something wasn’t quite right with my mental health as I left my teenage years behind and entered young adulthood.
When I was 15, my dad’s mother died, and I think affected me in a big way. My nan was like a second mother to me. Apparently, when mum fell pregnant with me, nan was adamant I was going to be a girl and she even painted the nursery pink. My grandad had died shortly before I was conceived, so I think nan took to looking after me like a new beginning after losing her husband.
After nan died, I suffered with depression for about a year, and I couldn’t make any sense of my thoughts or feelings. I would go out with school friends and stay up late, meet up with friends older than me. I moved out at 17, and as a young adult, I always felt like I needed to be with a man to feel secure, so I rarely had a break between relationships, and I often stayed in unhealthy ones for the sake of having someone.
It was around this time that I found I had a passion for dance music. Due to hanging about with an older crowd, I would often find myself in dark and grimy night clubs till 6 am. I absolutely loved every aspect of raving, from the music to the dirty dance floors, messy clubbers and losing yourself in the music. My dad bought me some basic turntables for my 17th birthday and I spent 3 months teaching myself how to mix. I would 100% say that dance music helped shape who I am today and helped save me during some of my darkest hours.
In her 50s, my mother developed a serious mental health condition, which wasn’t correctly treated for over 10 years. The NHS put her on every medication under the sun but none of it worked. She would tell me she has googled how to commit suicide and said she didn’t have any feelings about how her kids would feel if she wasn’t around. She took an overdose on several occasions and became addicted to prescription painkillers and sleeping tablets.
I’ve always felt a need to want to protect my mother from harm. We share the same birthday, and we have always had a close relationship. I learned she had a traumatic childhood, which is a huge factor that led to her mental illness. I spent many a day or night sat talking to her, she would cry nonstop. I remember many times not being able to get hold of her, and trying to mentally prepare myself for walking into the worst-case scenario. Eventually mum got the help she needed but only through private medical care. I know if she hadn’t got this help she wouldn’t be with us now. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and she has to take drugs similar to the ones that people suffering with bipolar and schizophrenia.
In 2018 my OCD and anxiety had got so bad I felt like I was losing my mind, and I knew if I didn’t get help I would be in serious trouble. It was difficult to ask for help after so many years of trying to deal with my thoughts and anxiety on my own. I was out on a waiting list for CBT and was seen after 7 months.
The counselling really helped me and taught me why I had OCD and how better to manage it. I think I will always have this disorder and anxiety, but after counselling, I know why and this helps me live with it. It’s a weight lifted to know I’m not crazy.
I am sharing this as I do think that mental health issues can partly be due to sharing the same genes, not just down to a particular experience in childhood or lifestyle. I think that it can be a combination of things; genetics, lifestyle, childhood experiences, that can cause the onset of any one mental health condition. Mental health can affect anybody, at any stage of life, no matter their circumstances. The important thing to remember is that everyone can get the help they need, as long as they make that first step and reach out,
I’ve always felt empathy for people and want to help others who are struggling with their mental health, and I hope being a volunteer for SSM will allow me to do so on a larger scale. I want anyone reading this to know that there is help out there, and the bravest thing you can do today is getting in touch so you can begin your journey of recovery.