“There is hope”

**Trigger warning for mention of self harm, eating disorder and suicide attempts**

My story starts in childhood and that horrible time before becoming an adult known as the tween and teen years. Despite not knowing why I was a depressed and anxious child, leading to self harm, hatred and multiple attempts at taking my own life from age 14-16. This lead to forced medical health – “see a psychiatrist or you’ll be arrested, as you’re a danger to yourself and others” is what lead to help finally being offered. Following this was 3 years of various psychiatrists, therapists and counsellors trying to find out how I was and why I was like that. I took anti-depressants, in a number of forms, from age 16. Skip ahead and I made it to uni, because that’s what I’d always wanted. Lived with my boyfriend and mutual friends and got on with life – though I wasn’t happy, still saw someone for help and took medication. Skip ahead to my final year and I was on the edge, at rock bottom, whatever cliche you want to use – I was a mess. I drank and smoked more than anyone should because I just didn’t know what to do. All these years and I still wasn’t normal! I couldn’t live like this anymore.

Then, me and my boyfriend split up, and I thought I’d lost everything. I dropped out of uni and my anxiety shot through the roof. I was too terrified to leave my house. Even going to kitchen took hours, inching my way along the floor of my house, checking the room 20-30 times from the doorway before entering, sitting in the corner so I could see the whole room. I don’t know what I was so scared of, but it was unbearable. If I hadn’t been so terrified I probably would have more ‘proactive’ and I wouldn’t be here today. My GP resorted to house visits and I was pumped with more medication and referred for more CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and counselling. Eventually, we found a phone therapy that worked for me and the right combination of medication to get me up and about again.

After about 6 months I was a completely different person – not the one I was before, but someone new. I went back to uni, and graduated with a First. I’ve now got a full time job, and I’m also studying my Masters. I learned how to live life for me, not for a boyfriend or friends (who, btw, were no good for me). I realised that sometimes you need to hit the bottom so you can rebuild your life on new foundations. There’s no miracle cure in my story, but there is hope. Hope that I’d completely lost when I was ill. So I share my story to tell anyone in a bad patch to show that, no matter where you get to, things can change and things can improve. I went through hell, and some days I wish I could take that all away and have lived a ‘normal’ life, but I know deep down that if I could I wouldn’t change a thing. Without all that I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be able to look back and be proud of what I’d achieved, I wouldn’t be as strong, and I wouldn’t be able to give hope to other people who think that’s the best their life will ever be. I have a mental illness. I had no hope left – but here I am, with a life I love and a smile on my face. Be patient, and one day you’ll be telling your story to help someone else keep hope.

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