There is a big stigma around mental health and even in 2017 people are still scared to talk about their own mental health for fear they are being judged. We have many people in the public eye talking about their own battles to help others understand it’s okay to not be okay. The most resent was Prince Harry talking about his struggles around the death of his mother and the Duchess Kate Middleton talking about her struggles around motherhood. I lived in New Zealand from the ages 13-17 and there would be adverts on the TV of the All Blacks rugby players talking about their battles with the black dog and telling others to speak up and ask for help. When I lived there at the time people didn’t accept mental health problems. They told you to “harden up and get over it” or “you’ll be ‘right” was another popular one.
I had struggled with life in New Zealand and my parents had been trying to get me on anti-depressants for ages but I kept saying nothing was wrong. I moved at the wrong time. I went straight into high school out there and was bullied for being English. I really missed my dogs too. On days I wanted to go home and others I wanted to stay. I would have massive fall outs with family in England.
When I got back to England I went on anti-depressants. My ex told me that I didn’t need to be on them and after that I never felt like I could talk about my feelings to anyone. I always felt fobbed off. I would bottle up my emotions and then when I couldn’t take anymore explode and fall apart. Over the years, I’ve been on and off anti-depressants because I’ve struggled with my mental health a lot due to years of bullying and my physical health was on a downwards spiral. I’ve been bullied since primary school and it continue with every school I moved to. I also started having family members saying horrendous things about me which really messed with me mind. I felt like I was going crazy.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis on 30/12/13 after suffering in agony for over a year. I also was having lots of tests into why my back was so bad. But even with evidence to my family I was a liar, a drama queen and lazy. In 2014/15 my health kept getting worse and I couldn’t work I was losing friends and family were still being horrible which was causing me to breakdown. I was crying most nights, screaming, shouting, slamming doors, I would run from home and sit on the beach with a bottle of wine and a bag of sweets which caused me to put a lot of weight on. I just couldn’t cope with everything going on with my life.
In February 2015 I had bladder surgery for interstitial cystitis and I went back to work straight away. I worked in a supermarket on checkouts and I couldn’t pull the heavy things through. I was in agony and crying at work and went back to my doctor and got signed off with a bladder infection. The people I worked with started saying that I lied about having surgery, that I didn’t have an infection, that I didn’t have health problems and was making it all up. The worst bit was I found out my friends wouldn’t stick up for me and were even joining in with it. that made my mental health worse.
In march 2015 I went to New Zealand for what was meant to be a three-week holiday. I told everyone if I liked it then I was getting a visa and I wasn’t coming home. At this point I wouldn’t admit that I was depressed but looking at it now it was trying to run away from my problems which I learnt running away from them doesn’t work. You have to admit you have them and fight them until you get better. I went out there to see a girl who was my best friend at the time. It was her wedding and I was maid of honour. She went to work every day after I arrived and because she had moved to an area I didn’t know well I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t even go to the corner shop because I didn’t know how to get there. I started crying the whole time and my anxiety was sky high. I was shaky and having panic attacks. I was on the phone to my parents telling them I needed to get home. Five days later I was back in England which meant I missed the wedding. We don’t speak because of that anymore. I went straight to the doctor and told him everything. I was a blubbering mess.
On the 11/06/15 (my birthday) I had my second laparoscopy for my endometriosis. A week or two later I went into retention and had to have a catheter fitted. A few days later It stopped working I went into retention really badly. My dad took me to a&e and it took them ages to get the catheter changed. I was screaming in pain and my dad thought my bladder was going to bust because it was that bad. In the September I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
In October 2015 I then started losing my vision. I was told I had idiopathic intracranial hypertension. I was told without a lumber puncture I would go blind. People were asking why I wasn’t upset and my reply was “I’m use to things going wrong with my health this is my normal”. And it’s true this has been my life for a long time. Since I was 16 and I had tonsillitis and glandular fever badly. Then when I had them removed at 18 I had a bad infection. You learn to just get on with life. So I had my first lumber puncture but it didn’t work my eye sight was getting worse so I had to have a second lumber puncture. After the second I was very poorly. I was throwing up and then completely out of it so had to go to hospital by ambulance where I stayed for about 5 or 6 days. I don’t really remember much about it. My eyes were still getting worse so in December and January I had both eyes operated on.
Throughout 2016 I had more problems with my bladder, I was diagnosed with a bowel prolapse, I got more migraines, and my pain got a lot worse. My mental health had its ups and downs but was better than it had been in the past. I did CBT at the end of 2016 to try help with the problems I had around the bullying and the family problems which helped with my mental health as a whole but I will never forget or forgive people for the things they have done to me. I still get shaky around some people but I’m happy to just avoid people.
In 2017 I had to start using a crutch to walk with because my pain got too bad and I need a bath chair. I struggle to get up the stairs at home and I’m only 23 but I feel 93. I was diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypermobility syndrome along with everything else I have going on in march of this year and I’m waiting for EDS testing. Even though this is happening I decided to do something positive with all the negatives in my life. I’ve decided to help others who are struggling with illnesses because I know how down it can make you especially when you have an unsupportive family.
I recently went to a pain clinic where I had physio and two medication review. They were awful. At the medication review I asked for patches but I was told they weren’t for people like me. They kept making out like I wasn’t in pain. I complained to management and then the physio told me I needed CBT. I told them I was not doing CBT again because I had recently done it and it was painful to do and I was in a great place mentally now. It also hadn’t helped my pain at all. In fact my pain is actually worse. At the second meds review I was told I was “messed up in the head” and had physiological and psychosocial issues and needed major mental health help. They would only help me if I went to Bath which is miles and miles from home for a facility which is for people with high care needs and mental health problems but they would do a bit of physio with me too. They said my pain wouldn’t improve because I was depressed. They told me I was messed up in the head because I told them that anyone who suffers in pain would take any pain relief they could if it gave them a better current life. It didn’t matter what it did in the future because we have life time illnesses so we would deal with the future when that arrived but we want a better now so that we can live our lives and do the things we wanted now while we are young.
I can talk about my mental health being bad and admit I was in a bad place so why would I lie about being in a good place now? If I was in a bad place I would admit it because I know now it’s okay to not be okay. I trained as a beauty therapist and would love to do that from home but I can’t because the pain I’m in. If I had social issues why would I be desperate to do that? They said I don’t leave my house because of my social issues when the truth is I don’t go out because I’m in agony. I speak to my neighbours often and I have one best friend who I go and see who has been my best friend though all of this.
What I don’t understand is why doctors, specialists and pain clinics are so convinced everyone who has physical illnesses have to be depressed. It’s actually okay to be okay. It’s okay to have physical health conditions and not suffer with depression just liked it’s okay to suffer with depression. I don’t believe depression makes pain worse because when my depression was really bad my pain was nowhere near as bad as it is now. They need better training and education from pain suffers to tell them that we don’t have to be depressed just because out bodies don’t work. Do they want us to be depressed? Do they think we are not strong? Are we not allowed to be okay? I think if we suffer in pain we are the strongest people going. No one would be able to cope with our level of pain. Think of the pain we walk around in everyday, everyone else would be in hospital with this level of pain.
I’ve come to accept my body doesn’t work and I’ve accepted that I will be like this for life. I’ve accepted I will never have a great family support and I will only have support from my one friend and the spoonie community. Coming to accept this is what’s really helped me with my mental health. I want to share my story to help others. I’m so open about my health and I love when I get a message from people thanking me for a post or asking for help and advice about a problem they are having.
So just remember is okay to not be okay but it’s also okay to be okay. If you aren’t okay, then please speak about it and get help.