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I was diagnosed with PTSD and disordered eating this year. Before that, I just thought I was crazy and anxious for no reason. I convinced myself that it was not okay to feel the way that I did, and ended up going round and round in circles. I was sexually assaulted, on more than one occasion, before I was of an age that I knew it was wrong. I realised this, by accident. I realised that I was not crazy, and this had impacted on my life tremendously, by accident. A light came on. I was 16 when I recognised what had happened to me and before that, it was just me and my big secret. There are more people that don’t know this about me, than those who do. Speaking out for the first time to a friend, and realising I was not alone was life changing. It took me a while to talk to someone professional about it, but oh my god it has changed my life. I understand myself so much more now and it has opened so many doors I didn’t even know I existed. I have bad days, dear god I have bad days. I have good days too. And sometimes, I have okay days. But the ratio is balancing out - I am realising that I am me, me is okay, and me will be with me forever. I still struggle massively with emotions and my relationship with food, and sometimes the self hatred is engulfing. Feeling like I’ve lost control...that ruins me. But talking...talking is the best therapy if ever I’ve known one. No one in this world is alone. Talk to someone. Open that door. Start a new page again. There is someone there for everyone. Moving out of my comfort zone and doing anything I tell myself I can - that’s what therapy has done to me. I have a long way to go, but today - today I’m me, and me is okay.Anonymous, Oxford❤️
I’m 22years old. I suffer from clinical depression and severe anxiety. This diagnosis came in May 2017, looking at the big picture this was a long time coming. At the time I had been a heavy cannabis smoker, occasional binge drinker and a borderline compulsive gambler all to get out of the ‘9-5’cycle. My job was stressful and I could never switch off. I accepted in my head that my lifestyle choices needed to change but could not find a way to confront it and this cycle went on for years. Shortly my depression and anxiety peaked when I quit the job, moved house and unfortunately my girlfriend at the time decided enough was enough. Within 48 hours I had attempted suicide and was in hospital. I cant describe how it feels to be so engrossed in your own thoughts that it doesn’t matter what anybody has to say. I was prescribed 100mg sertraline and 5mg diazepam. I continued to smoke cannabis heavier than ever and went against the advice of all doctors, family members and the crisis team. My real change came in march 2018, I had moved back closer to my friends and family late 2017 who supported me fully before I could find a job. As I felt a burden, I straight away looked to access my old job. Which I was given back. Which led me to the same path I was on before, smoking and drinking to allow myself to relax. Gambling to achieve financial freedom. March came around and I turned 22 on the clock in work, I sat up all night and assessed what my life had become. That was the moment I knew I needed to change what I was doing for good. Fast forward 9 months and some things have changed and some haven’t. I smoke cannabis socially, I don’t drink or gamble anymore but not everything Is perfect, I struggle to make conversation with others, I get frustrated over the smallest of things and of all places Tesco is the one that makes me the most anxious. I have not only found ways to adapt but to also overcome. My family understand if I have a bad day and cancel plans or don’t reply to their messages and that helps so much. Everyday Is truly a struggle but the world is becoming a place where it is acceptable to talk about your mental health, just knowing that there are people out there that are struggling just like you makes the fight 10x easier. My biggest saving grace is that there are people out there that love and care about me, and even if I don’t talk to them often, it doesn’t mean I’m not in their thoughts. Everyday is a blessing, and even when I cant see it, something will always remind me that everything is alright. To the Creators Compulsion is the single most relatable thing I have ever come across. The smallest things like reading stories about yourselves and others helped me get out of bed and go outside the house, I wish you the biggest success and will support you as much as I can. The Kindest Regards NickNick
I’ve been in some pretty messed up and scary situations, my mental illness ran parallel to heavy drug use. Undoubtedly, it made it worse but at times it was the only thing that made it better. After seven weeks in a medium security hospital I was diagnosed with BPD and a low grade paranoid illness. It took years for me to understand what that meant for me and even longer to understand what it meant for those around me. I grew up not quite fitting in which still holds true today, there’s always the voice in my head that tells myself that I’m never good enough. It tells me that I don’t belong, that people don’t like me and everything is always my fault. Sometimes that voice tells myself to kill myself, I’m generally in control but there’s been times when I haven’t been strong enough and I’m tempted. That compulsion to hurt myself will always be there. In hindsight, my mental illness formed when I was 14 and after months of cannabis use and being bullied I locked myself away. In an attempt to avoid conflict I’d refuse to go out, if my mum asked me to go to the shop I would have a panic attack and not go. I would stay up for days at a time, never leaving the small street I lived in and if someone saw me outside I would hide away for weeks just in case they came back. This type of living brought out so much self loathing and despair which continued for roughly three years. In an effort to function, I started smoking heavily again with the local misfits causing severe panic attacks on a daily basis and eventually went to prison. I received an ISPP prison sentence and for years I was stuck in a mental hell, I owe my life to a few members of prison gym staff who gave me a job in the gym and a probation officer who insisted I would not be released unless I completed a residential therapy programme. I spent 29 months on a therapeutic community in prison where I attended roughly a thousand hour long meetings discussing and being challenged on my behaviours. I was being attacked with words and the only way through it was to understand and overcome every destructive thought and emotion I had. I learnt about coping skills and having empathy for the people around me. I studied and worked through other programmes and progressed through the lifer system and although I had a lot to do in life I had no baggage, no voices or insane compulsions and I was free. I also meditated daily, I ate clean and trained often. I had a mental and physical detox. Right now life is not perfect, I’ve been through relapses, relationship breakdowns and opened the darkest parts of myself that I worked so hard to heal. However, I talk, I work and I use the support that people give to me and I value it all. The people I love who didn’t give up encourage me not to give up on myself. I don’t know if anyone reading this has had similar experiences, but please know that you are not alone and there are millions of people going through different stages of the same hell. Talk, call someone, help someone you can see is struggling and maybe someone will help you. Reach out.Steve, Swansea
I was diagnosed last year in June but I believe I was depressed long before I admitted I was. I was put on Sertraline which helped me immensely. I've recently come off and I'm nearly 2 months med free however I still have bad days and I truly believe if it wasn't for openly talking about it to friends I wouldn't be here today. Coping mechanism is a hard one, sometimes I'm in control sometimes I'm not. I believe that when you are at breaking point you need to cry, be alone - whatever, just to get myself back together. People saying chin up etc... means nothing. Someone saying "I got you" is better. I had a bit of a rough childhood; useless father and my mother is an alcoholic with schizophrenia so my grandparents raised me. My bampa had an affair when I was 8 so it was just me and my nan but I was very close to my bampa's partner Jan. She passed away suddenly in 2014 then my life spiralled out of control. I hated my job, struggled with child care and had a child that never slept more than 2 hours a night. After going on the meds last year I got a new job, my little one started sleeping all night and things started falling into place. Granted I can't change my past but I will make sure the future is bright and the big black depression hole can't get me. Hopefully anyway. At least I recognise the signs, I would never wait as long to ask for help again. It's only because I kept having suicidal thoughts that I went to the doctors. I didn't want to think like that but I couldn't help myself, it was literally like an angel and devil on my shoulder situation.Rochelle, Swansea
I’m Josh, I’m 21 years old and I suffer from insomnia, depression, and anxiety. The combination of the three can often be crippling, leaving you unable talk to anyone or wanting to do anything. I’m writing this as a coping mechanism and also on the off-chance that someone reading may feel in a similar way, or have had similar experiences and feel a sense of comfort in knowing they’re not the only ‘mad’ one. Statistics show it’s not uncommon to feel this way, despite what many people have become accustomed to believing. It’s estimated on a weekly basis 1/6 people will battle with a form of depression or anxiety. I was brought up in a loving home, with the greatest parents any child could ask for, both loving and a true testament to exactly how I want to be when I grow older. My father, a true gentleman, known and loved by everyone he meets. My mother, the women who has the biggest heart of any I know. Not only have they been together for over 45 years, but they’ve managed to raise 10 children and 15 grandchildren (2 on the way) and also took on the most selfless of acts in fostering children with disabilities. To say I respect and love them for everything they’ve done and continue to do for me to this day would be a complete understatement. My childhood was perfect, I had 9 older siblings who always looked out for me and were always there as role models for me and I had a great group of friends, both of which have continued to this day. I grew up in a football-mad household and developed a love for the game and my beloved Swansea City. As a child, I believed I was going to go on and one day put the jersey on but unfortunately, my gut became as big as my aspirations at the wrong age(cheers mam for the copious amounts of your famous ‘pastie pie’) and you can’t just have an average left foot to make it nowadays. Anyone who’s ever met me would tell you I’m a happy go, lucky person, always laughing and smiling and can’t resist making a joke out of anything possible. It came as a surprise to almost everyone when ‘out of the blue’ in my previous job I called in sick for a week after going to the doctors because ‘I wasn’t feeling myself’. After the week had passed many people on my team, including my manager at the time (who was brilliant throughout the whole process) were bemused by the situation wondering exactly what was going on. I, at the time, was in charge of boosting morale on the team, ensuring everyone remained happy on the phones during busy periods, surely I couldn’t be the one who needed the morale and boost of happiness myself? After going to the doctors to try and figure out exactly what was going on in my head, I was prescribed Fluoxetine on a normal 50mg dosage to see if it made any difference. The next 2 weeks were possibly the worst of my life, with any anti-depressant it takes time for them to work. With the fluoxetine, however, in its initial stages it starves your brain of serotonin this makes you feel 10x worse than how you felt prior to taking them, this hit me like a train. The initial 2 weeks I probably had around 2/3 nights where I managed to get over 4 hours sleep, I’d sit awake through the night, in the dark with the most horrific thoughts running through my mind. The tablet makes you over think absolutely everything, I’d be laying worried that a family member had died or something was going to happen to them during the night and the thoughts would then stem to the most upsetting nightmares imaginable. After the nightmare period had ended, I started to feel a little saner and started to slowly feel like less of a ‘psycho’. The problem with the tablets for myself was that I felt like an unemotional robot, ticking through days without purpose or care. I’d usually be found sitting in my room in the dark, watching television or listening to music, only ever leaving my room for a cigarette and some junk food. Because of this lifestyle of not wanting to do anything, not caring about myself or anything for that matter, as well as complications with my tablets it led me to balloon from 12 stone to 17 stone in a matter of months, something that even to this day is embarrassing to touch on. For anyone, weight is something that can be a struggle and conscious entity, as a child I was always chubby and then in my later teenage years, I’d become thin and athletic, so gaining the weight made me become even more of a recluse, this then becomes a vicious circle where I hated the person I was but was too embarrassed to go out and do anything about it. The nightmare continued. After 3 months absence from work, I decided that although my mental state of mind was not ready to go back, I had no choice, if I had carried on like this any longer I felt I’d have completely lost my mind. Work were brilliant, they allowed me to do a phase return meaning I’d slowly increase my hours weekly depending on how well I was coping. The only struggle I felt on that first day going back was the thought of seeing everyone I knew and knowing I was a lump of mess, but after getting passed the seeing of everyone and the questions of where I’d been, I felt back at home right away and got back to everything slowly. In the coming weeks, I made the decision that the current shift patterns I was doing weren’t helping my frame of mind and this could potentially have been the issue all along. I was working 9-8 shifts with 3 days off, at the time I loved it. I had a great manager who would bend over backward for anyone and 3-day weekends which catered for my love of football and love of alcohol. Upon returning to working 8-5 shifts in no time I felt great and came off the fluoxetine completely. I was starting to feel myself again and work was going well. I’d had a change of scenery and I’d just been chosen to go out to India for what ended up as being a 6-month stint. A life-changing opportunity that I simply couldn’t pass up. Not only did I see it as an experience of a lifetime, but I had heard Delhi belly was a real thing and this could have helped with my weight-loss. (sad but true lol) India was a special place, filled with fond memories and experiences that I never dreamed I’d have achieved. I met extraordinary people who taught me some amazing things and most importantly it made me realise just how spectacular home is and how I’d never be able to permanently leave Swansea. (how cliche) Whilst coming to the end of my term out in New Delhi I was starting to think about my options and decided that going back and working 8-5 speaking to angry customers on the phone wasn’t what I currently wanted to do. One of my biggest passions in life is music, something that unfortunately I possess no talent in. I decided that I’d quit my job upon returning to the UK and I’d go to University and study Music Business. Two of my favourite things music and money, surely this would all go right? September came and I was starting school for the first time all over again, filled with dread, but mostly excitement. I met my classmates and started learning about a topic that really interested me. I was excited going into each lecture because I felt I was learning valuable things that would assist me in future endeavors and I had a real sense of optimism, something that for a while I hadn’t had. It was great! The assignments started coming in thick and fast, then the exams and I was starting to fall behind with it all, I felt completely inept and out of my depth and was worried I’d be a failure. I’d just quit a good job after being urged not to by my parents (only because of never completing college and dropping out of everything I do, out of sheer indecisiveness) and I was about to fail my exams and end up having to go back begging for my old job. I felt scared and worried about the whole thing, I started missing uni and started feeling myself falling into the same traps that had held me before. The new year came and went in a flash, it was a new term and I was determined to get cracking on and nailing all my assignments and exams. My brain had other ideas, it decided to start keeping me up all night and making me feel down about everything all over again. The real worrying part for me was when I experienced my first panic attack, something of which I never fully understood and still don’t really to this day. I was laying in bed, restless, I’d finished watching TV and was just there still, alone with my thoughts. I started feeling my heart rate increase and the palms of my hands start to sweat as my throat felt like it was closing up, it was 3am and I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move or do anything for around 5 minutes, this absolutely petrified me , In those moments I genuinely thought I was going to die. After calming myself down, I read up online (don’t do this) and searched for exactly what had just happened to me, and stupidly self-diagnosed it as a panic attack. The worrying of having another one kept me awake for a further two nights until, and the attacks were becoming ever more frequent. In the end, I decided I couldn’t carry on living like this. I’d try and fail to sleep every night and the nights I would end up sleeping I’d wake up feeling like I had no purpose. Something had to be done. I spoke to my parents who were as supportive as ever and explained what was going on, how worried I was feeling and how I couldn’t carry on not sleeping and feeling this way. I decided to speak to the doctor and explain my situation. Their first response without even thinking was to prescribe me Fluoxetine again, I refused, that tablet had already made me go on an emotional rollercoaster and I was still taking up two seats of it. I needed something different, so they gave me Citalopram , the first day of taking I decided I needed to change my approach or I’d become exactly what I was on Fluoxetine. I decided I’d be going to work that night in my pub job, I’d start eating healthy and exercising. I knew if I’d lost a bit of weight it’d make me feel better and hopefully coinciding with the tablet I’d be fixed in no time. I took the tablet, went to work and cracked on with it. After about 2/3 hours of work I started feeling all over the place, I was feeling extremely anxious and I felt a panic attack on the horizon, this petrified me as I didn’t like the thought of being in an exposed area around people I know, looking like a ‘nut job’. My boss sent me home early and I took my Phenergan (prescribed for my insomnia) and I was out for the count. I slept for 16 hours and woke up still feeling mentally and physically drained, I took my second days worth of Citalopram and I felt fine. In the month that followed I was exercising, eating well and feeling good about myself, I’d managed to lose around 4 stone since the start of the year and I was starting to feel normal again. My initial 28 days on the Citalopram had ended, I’d stopped taking my Phenegran, my sleeping pattern was great, I felt amazing and I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. Being the impulsive person I am, I believed I now knew exactly what it took to make me happy. I didn’t need any tablets to make me feel good, I just got myself into a rut previously and never really got out of it. I was on the straight and narrow and I decided to not renew my Citalopram. A month went by, I continued with my exercising, eating healthily and the weight continued to drop off, I still felt so good, surely to goodness now I’m cured and this was just a phase. I walked to work, I was about to do my usual Sunday 12-10pm shift at the pub, one of my favorites of the week because I get to catch the football during quiet spells and always keep myself busy. I don’t think it hasn’t even entered my mind really at this point how close I am to the end of the first year at University and I’ve got a ‘shitload’ of assignments and presentations due, maybe it was there subconsciously, who knows? But I started getting the feeling of a panic attack coming on again, something I hadn’t felt for over 2 months. Something I thought I’d never have again and something that was just completely out of the blue. I’m not sure if God was on my side this day, but for whatever reason at 6pm in work whilst this panic attack occurred, not one person was in the building other than me. This should have probably scared me, but I saw it as comforting that nobody else would have seen my struggle. Since then I’ve continued to have panic attacks, not as frequently as before, but still every other day. I started to feel myself get back into a rut and this worried me again. I didn’t want to become reliant on a tablet to allow me to feel healthy and normal, I didn’t want people thinking that I needed a drug in order to make me like them and worst of all I didn’t want to feel weak and inferior for not being able to make myself happy. I came to the conclusion that being reliant on a tablet to dictate your happiness and normality is unhealthy, however, tablets can assist you in the process as long as you do something about it yourself. You can’t just sit at home, taking the tablet waiting for the black cloud to pass by. I don’t ever want to get into the rut I was in 2 years ago and I’m going to ensure that I never will. Some days are harder than others, some days you feel like the worlds going to end and you’re being swallowed up and spat out. I’ve decided I’m going to start taking my Citalopram’s again from next week, not because I feel reliant on them, but sometimes you have to suck it up and admit when you need help. There’s no shame in admitting it, everyone needs it sometimes. I in myself am fine, I still feel good about myself and I’m still doing the things I enjoy, but I’d rather do something about the small issues I have sooner rather than later. The best thing you can do is talk with your friends and family, being honest about your feelings doesn’t make you any less of a man or woman, if anything it takes a lot of balls to admit you need help. Without my friends and families support, I’d have been a complete and utter mess. This is an open invitation however to anyone who feels the need to reach out to someone, my DM’s/Inbox/Messages are always open to anyone who needs help. We’ve all been in the same boat at one point, some people are just more willing to be open about it than others and that’s fine. But don’t allow it to eat you up.Josh, Click here for more
A typical day with diagnosed acute anxiety disorder for me usually begins with self hatred. Before I’m even out of bed, I’ll log into the poisonous word of social media and tell myself that I’m not good enough. I’ll scroll through endless pictures of beautiful people I aspire to be like, with lifestyles I can only dream of. Then I’ll look in the mirror and analyse all my flaws close up. Big nose. Greasy skin. Spotty face. Crooked eyes. To feel marginally better, I’ll shower, dress, put makeup on, style my hair. But it’s all a façade. When I “make an effort”, it seems to take all my time and doesn’t seem to make a difference. I look at friends, people I know, and even when they DON’T make an effort, they still look better than me. But it’s my mask for the day, and I’ll need it. The little voice in my head consistently tells me “you’re not worth it”. A “normal” day usually passes relatively well. If nothing of interest happens, then I’ll cope with the intrusive thoughts by reading, going for a walk, getting work done. (A bad day would mean I’m still in bed). If an anxiety attack comes on, I’ll then find the person I feel safest around, (my boyfriend) and we’ll do something to distract me. We might go for a walk, or watch something on TV, or he might just quietly hold me till it passes. It’s important to have someone who understands what an anxiety attack is; tight chest, difficulty breathing, high heart rate, nausea, clamminess and thinking horrendous thoughts. (These are some of my symptoms; different people have different responses to an attack.) I do breathing exercises; breathe in through the nose for 5 seconds, out through the mouth for 7. This helps to regulate the heart rate. Another coping mechanism I use is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. This is a good one for when I might be alone. The 5-4-3-2-1 technique helps to ground you in your surroundings and distract you from the attack. 5; name five things you can see around you. 4; name four things you can touch. 3; name three things you can hear. 2; name two things you can smell and finally, 1; name one thing you can taste. If none of these things work, I’ll take a prescription Diazepam, which takes the edge off and helps me to calm right down. Usually I sleep for a while after one of these attacks. Overall, I’ve learnt how to deal with my anxiety disorder. The more stressed and alone I feel, the worse it gets. But if my surroundings are something I can deal with, and if I know I’m somewhere safe, then usually I can control it. And you can too. ❤️Anonymous