Thursday, 11 May 2017

My Mental health story: Depression, self harm and suicide

Before you read any further, I just want to make it abundantly clear that I have never spoken about my mental health this deeply to anyone other than a trained psychiatrist. This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and it has taken several drafts and a lot of courage to write this very open blog about my own mental health issues. I’m not writing this for attention, for sympathy, for views or as a cry for help, I’m writing this because once upon a time, I was one of those people who loathed others openly talking about their mental health.

‘Get over it’
‘Others have it much worse’'
‘Just deal with it’
 ‘We all have issues’

Though I’d never say this to peoples faces, I definitely looked down on those who shared their mental health stories, but before you jump down my throat, please know that these are the thoughts of someone who was very ill themselves.

My entire life I had been conditioned to never acknowledge or speak about sadness, to never openly talk about my feelings or problems and I was told I had it easy by those who were making my life miserable. The truth is, I had a very difficult life and it’s taken me nearly 29 years to realise that.

I was diagnosed with depression at 17 but I had been feeling the same way since I was 11. My dad had walked out on my family, we were very poor and my life was in turmoil. A lot of issues happened throughout my childhood/teens, which I won’t go into, but they shaped me into the person that I am today.

I was 15 when I first self harmed. I cut my wrists with scissors and though the cuts didn’t pose any real threat to my life, they definitely left marks. Someone noticed these marks and instead of talking to me about it, they hit me and said if they ever saw me doing that again, I’d regret it. I was told it was a 'teenage phase' and 'I'd get over it' but in hindsight, this individual was having issues of their own and they resorted to an old school mentality to try and scare me into not doing it again. However, their words had a lasting affect on me. Instead of stopping self harm, I just hid it better so that they never saw it again, and carried on self harming for another 10 years without anyone ever noticing. 

As I headed into my twenties, I still refrained from talking to anyone about how I was feeling. I saw people around me who had close families, groups of friends and support networks and even though I had friends and family I always felt alone and unable to divulge my darkest secret. 

My mind was my own worse enemy; I told myself I was useless, pitiful, ugly, horrible, a waste of space and I continued this mantra for so many years, that I became so depressed I wondered what the point of living was. So, I cut. 

I cut a lot. 

My thigh (my hidden place for self harm), still bears 100’s of scars all over it. Thankfully I’m very pale, so my scars are not very apparent, but I know that they are there and it still saddens me till this day. They actually make me feel sick when I look at them and I still can’t believe I was able to do that damage to myself.

Even though I thought cutting myself was helping, it was becoming an addiction. The feelings I was experiencing internally were soul destroying but I knew that they would drain away as soon as I cut myself and the blood ran out of me. Though the cutting provided temporary relief, the euphoric feelings of happiness would soon fade away and there they would be. Those feelings again, at the fore front of my mind.

So I planned my suicide.

I planned to hang myself in my local woods. I knew secluded areas where I could do it at dusk where no one could disturb me, but when the time came, I couldn’t do it. Not because I was afraid to, but because I started to think about the poor person who would find me. How would that effect their life? Could I really do that to someone?

So I changed my plan. I would book a hotel room, hang myself there, but post a suicide note to the police, so the ‘professionals’ could find me. But then I thought about my sister. I thought about how heartbroken she would be and how she would probably spend her entire life wondering why? I couldn’t bear to put her through that pain.

Over the last few years I have seen an overwhelming campaign to discuss mental health and in the beginning I scoffed at people who spoke openly about their mental health and problems. I thought that they should all be getting on with it and deal with it themselves, just like me.

But I wasn’t getting on with it, was I?

Cutting myself and planning my own suicide weren't exactly the actions of someone who was getting on with it. I was a shell of a human whose every waking thought was consumed by self hatred. How was not talking about my feelings a better alternative? Why was I made to feel so ashamed about feeling like this? And why was I judging others for sharing their pain?

I was torn, cut up (mentally and physically) and so very tired of pretending like everything was fine.

I have read countless blogs that have really helped me to realise that others are going through this on a daily basis, just like me. Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are topics that shouldn't go unspoken, they need to be discussed, not only on social media, but in schools, universities and even work places.

We need to stop putting people down for discussing it, making teenagers feel invalid for feeling the way they do or blaming hormones. Can we stop undervaluing peoples thoughts, experiences and feelings just because back in your day, people just got on with it? Speaking about mental health issues is not a competition about whose had it worse; it’s a community coming together to help one another through very, very dark times.

I've learned that mental health issues can affect anyone at anytime. There isn't an age you have to hit, a gender you have to be, a situation you have to experience, it's a chemical imbalance in our brains that needs to be helped. I've been told that diet, exercise, meditation etc will help, but honestly, they can only do so much. If I'm feeling blue, yes of course a run will help me or a quite relaxing bath can lift my spirits, but depression is not that simple. There's no quick solution or remedy, professional help is needed.

If you don’t live with mental health issues, please know that this isn’t a choice. I didn’t chose to feel like this, what an awful choice that would be! I don’t feel sorry for myself or do it for attention and I certainly don’t think I’ve had it worse than others, I just can't help the way I feel. 

I urge those people who suffer in silence to come forward, to speak to friends, families, doctors, teachers, anyone, but just speak up. If it wasn’t for internet and the mental health discussions that are taking place all over it, I wouldn’t finally be getting the help I need at 29 years old. The stigma that surrounds mental health and it’s sufferers is still around today but please know that there is also so much more support. Once upon a time I thought that taking antidepressants was a sign of weakness but the thought of taking them now seems like a life line.

Be kind to one another, use your words carefully and know that depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts are sometimes very hard to notice in someone, but all you can do is show love and support to those around you. 


  1. This is a really raw and honest post, it must have taken so much for you to publish this. You're so brave for sharing your experience, it's not easy to do but knowing people will benefit from it makes it worthwhile. Thank you for being so open about your mental health, I feel like this will really help some people x

    1. I agree, a raw and honest post! You are undeniably and incredibly brave for sharing your story, it's such a tough thing to do. I am sure you will help others with this! Thanks for sharing xx


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