MY JOURNEY WITH MENTAL HEALTH
My journey with Mental Health
WRITTEN BY: Anonymous
I remember clearly, my first ever experience of my anxiety. I was in primary 6, aged 10.
Understandably, I was nervous about my first day, but it began to get out of control. I remember tears building up, so I asked to go to the toilet, because I felt I needed to escape. After trying to calm myself, I returned to the classroom, only to feel ill again and the urge to go to the toilet. The classroom assistant took me this time as I went into a full-blown panic attack. This was my life for most of p6.
I’m not sure if I have a trigger, but I know that stress has sent me to dark places. It isn’t just stress from day to day life, its anxiety that comes with big events.
When I was only 3/4 years old, I lost my Grandma and my Great Auntie (her sister) to a cancer gene that runs in our family within 3 months of each other. My Mum had cancer at this time too.
During my time at academy, I also lost people – when my Mama (great grandma) died, I was bullied. I was 13 at the time, and I think this was my first experience with depression. At 16, I lost my Granda. This was the hardest one I had to deal with. I was depressed, grieving, I lost my appetite, I lost weight, my anxiety and panic attacks were commonplace. I stopped going to school, I didn’t do my prelim exams and I left later that year.
Since then, my mental health has not been the same.
I have played rugby since I was 15. I have loved it since my first ever session; it’s the one thing that has helped my anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. The endorphins from playing isn’t the only thing that has helped, it was the people I played with and still play with too.
About 2 years ago, on my 19th birthday, is when I realised, I might need some professional help.
I was at Murrayfield for U20 trials with my Dad. Yes, I was feeling nervous, but no more nervous than I would be before a game. But, as we started some drills, I realised I was struggling to breathe, I felt light-headed, I couldn’t concentrate, and I began to get very flustered. I was having a panic attack.
The team Doctor took me aside to figure out what was wrong.
I went to my Dad and I almost gave up, asked to go home. He told me about how much he knew I wanted this, how much of a waste it would have been just to go home... how much I would regret just giving up and not trying.
So, I went back out there and gave it my all and completed day 1.
That night I got the long-awaited email, I was invited for day 2!
Day 2 began better, I relaxed into the group of girls I was playing with. We went for lunch and were supposed to play a game in the afternoon. When the time came, we did some tackling practice beforehand, but a tackle sent me into one of the worst panic attacks I’ve experienced – this cut my day short. I realised, stress was holding me back and affecting activities and things that should be positive for me.
Throughout the weekend, I had talks with the coaches who told me I had so much potential and that I should have a place on that team. I had the pleasure of talking to former Scotland Ladies coach, who pulled me aside during one of the drills – he told me I was a natural rugby player, that I needed to just be confident. I was told that there would be a place on that team (after some further fitness tests) for me once I had been to see a therapist and got my mind fit and healthy. I would say it was my mental health that ruined my chances of maybe one day playing international rugby, but it was myself.
My Dad organised for me to see a therapist when we were home. This therapist was a former royal marine who specialised in therapy for people who had suffered PTSD. I’m not sure how long we spoke for, but it was probably the one time I had completely opened to someone about everything. I spent a good bit crying, a good bit laughing and a good bit listening to this wonderful man’s wisdom. Part of the session was about doing CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy). He gave me some coping mechanisms which did help for a while, but I fell out of the pattern and went back to my old ways. I was supposed to arrange another session and let him know how I was getting on, but I never did. I regret not going back because I still struggle so bad with my mental health.
I went to the Doctors for help, but they didn’t want to put me on medication to begin with as sometimes it can make it worse, but one Doctor prescribed me an anti-depressant, which was to help me sleep. I told everyone that this was for my sciatica as it can be used for that too, as I couldn’t face the stigma associated with it.
Like a lot of people, I have struggled with my mental health over the lockdowns and throughout this pandemic. These past 4 months have been the hardest. I always struggle at Christmas time, as my Granda died on the 28th of December, but this time it was so much worse. I can’t say that I haven’t felt happiness over this time, as I have, but the sadness and the bad feelings have been much more overpowering. I spent a good part of the last 4 months thinking about life if I wasn’t here. These feelings are horrible, the feeling of hopelessness, the hurt you feel in your chest as if someone is ripping your heart out.
Something I didn’t think I would ever have wanted to talk about, that I now realise I do need to talk about, is what happened in these past few months.
I had an abortion.
Some people won’t understand that it has been so sad and upsetting because they’ve never been in the exact position I have been.
Some people may think “well you can’t be upset or be sad, grieving or depressed because you chose to get rid of it”.
This wasn’t the case and it took me by surprise afterwards.
Having something grow inside you, the changes that happen to your body, the hormones that make you feel different, for all that to disappear is something I cannot explain.
The experience of it feels like the worst thing I have ever had to go through; it was harder than grieving for my Granda.
I cry every single day. Lying in bed, face all blotchy and swollen from the tears, the strain from crying so hard, the feeling like your heart has shattered into a million pieces, the guilt, the feeling of not thinking that it’ll ever get better, that you’ll never be happy again. The thoughts of being judged by anyone who found out, the burden of keeping it a secret. But then I realised that its my story to tell, the only person it is going to hurt is me, and now I realise I can handle that. I realise that it is harder to keep it from everyone, when anyone asks how I am I want to tell them, you know what, I feel like rubbish, and explain why but I just tell everyone I’m okay, when I’m clearly not.
Just after all this happened, my mum got hit by a car.
This experience was horrible too. The anxiety and panic you feel when you hear this cause everything to spiral again.
A lot of people’s stories finish on a good note, but unfortunately this one hasn’t yet. I am at my worst point, but the only thing I need to keep going is those who love and support me – family, friends, my cats. I just need to remember that everything will come alright, maybe in the next few weeks, it could be months or even years.