What it’s really Like Living with Anxiety/Depression/PTSD & Learning to Be on My Own

Sunday, 18 September 2016

What it’s really Like Living with Anxiety/Depression/PTSD
& Learning to Be on My Own

As many of you may and may not know, a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Anxiety / Depression & PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and it sucked and it was petrifying. I had always been aware that something was never right with myself as I always felt that I was more anxious than others for exams or going out etc and needed to be around a big group of people to feel safe. Up until a couple of years ago I never really knew about Mental Illness and how even the strongest people, people I would call my absolute toughest friends could be affected by it in such inconceivable ways.

Mental Illness can be defined as a condition which causes serious disorder in a person’s behaviour or thinking.

A mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.
A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

One in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24. The normal personality and behaviour changes of adolescence may mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health condition.

When I was first diagnosed I felt like the worst person on earth, I hated myself, I hated my existence and I didn’t understand why this had to happen to me, I was a good person. Which looking back on now in hindsight is ludicrous and just because you’ve been diagnosed with a Mental Illness it doesn’t mean your any less or the person you are, nor does it define your character. So, after multiple trips to the doctors and discussions I was put on medication and referred to counselling, which didn’t go down particularly brilliantly. The extent and severity of my Mental Illness caused me to have a month off work to try and help my medication work faster, which did affect me on a personal level because I was worried that people would think less of me for having to do this.

So after a few months, the medication ended up making me feel worse and altered my behaviours/attitude to a horrid extent and the counsellors I met with couldn’t offer me the counselling I needed due to it’s complexity. So I thought stuff this, I came off my medication (only come off your medication if you’ve consulted your GP beforehand) and I decided I was going to tackle this problem on my own and beat it on my own.

So, I went to the seaside. I went on my own for the day and let it all out, I told my mental illness exactly what I thought of it and that it was the most horrid thing I’d ever seen (I imagine my mental illness to look like some form of alien/wolf-esk thing if it was to ever be a physical thing) and I sat their closed my eyes and concentrated in my mind on it. I sat there and visualised every last detail of it right down to what colour it’s eyes where and I mentally beat it down, I told it what I thought of it and how it’s a life ruiner but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life; which makes me sound even more nuts but it worked for me, for a while.

After lots of trial and error over the months and then into years, I found that I didn’t like doing things on my own because I was so afraid of my own company, I was afraid of what my Mental Illness might say or think of me; or make me think. So I challenged it, it was the scariest decision I’ve ever made but I just got up and got ready one day, brought a train ticket and went to the Birmingham Bull Ring on my own for the day (probably not the best place to start but I went straight into the deep end). I stuck my earphones in and had my noise playing in the background and I wondered, all day. I did end up picking up a few pieces but it made me realise I could do it; I could be on my own and be okay. I kept doing it, every so often and still to this day I will choose a day and just go out on my own with no plan and no intention but to be happy within myself. Don’t get me wrong, some days it goes pear shaped and others it works.

Living with a Mental Illness is hard and especially hard if you live with people or are with someone who doesn’t understand Mental Health in general, you end up having to learn to be selfish and to cut the people who can’t support or encourage your positivity out of your life. You’ll have days where you want to go full speed and just go for it but you’ll also have days/weeks where nothing goes right or nothing feels like it’s going to change but it will. You write your own destiny and having that initial courage to tell your Mental Illness exactly what you think of it will make you feel unleashed. Having a Mental Illness is petrifying but the more you talk to people about it the more you'll see it is very common and it's okay, tones of people have a Mental Illness and a lot of them will be closer to home than you realise and will also be the people you least expect them to be.

Mental Health is a rollercoaster but don’t just get it off it because you don’t like the ride; ride it.

Ride it and conquer it.

Emma x

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