So where do I begin? After struggling behind closed doors for so many years it's a daunting concept to be sharing everything online. I could just be a faceless content creator trying to push sales and prey on the impressionable... but that's one thing that sets us apart from the others; we care. We want to be approachable, we want to help our customers, we want to build relationships and a support network for people because we've experienced insensitivity and ignorance towards our conditions. I am going to try my damnedest to ensure that our generation can eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health, our clothing represents Courage and Empowerment. However, in order for you to speak out it's only right that I do too...
What is your official diagnosis? When did you receive this?
In 2016 I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety (more specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and recently, after a consultation with a psychiatric nurse, I was also diagnosed with Emotional Dysregulation Disorder.
How long have you suffered with these conditions?
Through hindsight and therapy, I'm confident these are conditions I have had since childhood. As a child I displayed irrational and neurotic behaviour which was regularly humoured by my family. For example, in primary school I had an OBSESSION with going to bed at 7pm. I couldn't go to school discos, after school clubs or friend's houses because I had an irrational fear of staying up late. My theory was; if I stayed up late, I'd be tired and cranky in school the next day potentially causing me to have a row in school. I was terrified of having a row off anyone. I know right? This is just one example (of many!).
How does your diagnosis manifest itself? Do you have any triggers?
On a daily basis, I suffer with a feeling that can only be described as home sickness. If I'm out of my home and away from Dai I have a sinking feeling in my stomach and an overall sense of sadness and loneliness. When I'm at my worst, symptoms become heightened; I regularly struggle with concentration, I become overly sensitive, I'm irritable, I withdraw from society, I'm massively lethargic and I become really paranoid causing me to lock doors and close the curtains in my own home. I suffer with panic attacks which can cause chest pains, exhaustion and are incredibly overwhelming. My behaviour is generally destructive but the most dangerous for me is feeling suicidal and wanting to act on it, it takes every fibre of my being not to do something terrible.
As for triggers, I'm still not completely sure of any particular patterns. I know if my life is cluttered or I have a lot going on then naturally my issues are triggered. Also, if I have a lot to do or if I'm left on my own for long periods of time I get very low and anxious.
What are your coping mechanisms?
I absolutely love writing, I find it cathartic. When I first began going to therapy I bought a journal and wrote EVERYTHING down and gave myself achievable goals for each day. They were literally things like 'Wash Hair, Paint Nails" because such mundane tasks can be difficult on a bad day. I'm also a big believer in "Tidy House, Tidy Mind", and find that if my home is messy then I become very stressed and down hence why I'm a massive neat freak. I regularly do massive clear outs which helps declutter my mind I suppose. I'm also on medication which I find takes the edge off for me, of course it's not for everyone, since taking medication I no longer feel like I'm constantly tense and the hairs on my body don't stand up on end. There are SO many different types and so far I have been on two; Fluoxetine and Sertraline, both of which are quite common. I begun my recovery on 20mg of Fluoxetine in 2016 which worked wonders for me however as the years went on the affects slowly faded and my body became unresponsive to them so my GP doubled my dosage. Generally when you first take medication or increase the dosage, you may get worse before you get better but doubling the dosage caused a lot of issues psychologically for me. 40mg of Fluoxetine did not agree with me and caused me to visit that dark place again so I was recently put onto 50mg Sertraline... so far so good.
How do you relax and switch off?
I find switching off and the art of "mindfulness" very difficult, however I do try to practise what I preach. Usually I find pleasure in going out for coffee with my fiance or walking our dog, nowhere too busy or too noisy. I also like to have a nice bath, get into my pyjamas and watch anything Disney! As part of my bedtime routine, which I especially look forward to, without fail 'Friends' is on because it's the only thing that makes me feel safe and calm... we fall asleep to it in our house.
Have you been a victim to ignorance regarding mental health?
Definitely! Past employers have not been understanding of my conditions, which is understandable unless you've experienced it first hand, however it's resulted in me jumping from job to job. Also, when I was having bad side effects from the doubled dosage of Fluoxetine I rung my local GP for help and wasn't considered unwell enough to warrant a face to face consultation. I was told that I didn't seem vulnerable over the phone and when I stated that thoughts of harming myself had crossed my mind, the GP replied "Sorry to be flippant, but it crosses many people's minds... it's just whether you'd have the balls to do it." That same night, I downed a bottle of wine and desperately wanted to harm myself. A few weeks later, Compulsion was born. I did not want this to happen to anyone again.
I am a HUGE believer in a problem shared is a problem halved, it's so important to reach out to people. I do understand though that sometimes you want somebody to give you an objective opinion of the situation, which is why we have set up an email for you guys to message us. We are by no means doctors, but we get it and we want to reassure everyone that it's not something you have to just "get on with it". You don't have to live with poor mental health and you certainly are not defined by it. I lived for so long thinking my poor mental health was just my "character" or "personality traits". It's NOT. There are resources out there to help you manage and cope better. Get down to your GP and seek help. If medication is something you want to try then go for it, just remember there are SO many different types so don't be afraid to query them if one isn't working for you. It's your body and your mind; medication can be trial and error.
I have found Talking Therapies and CBT extremely helpful too but obviously going private is costly but do your research as there are so many free resources available. All of which can be found on the NHS website or ask your GP.
But please, my biggest advice is to just TALK.
For more info: follow me on Instagram at @bethvolio and drop me an inbox