I have some amazing friends at university, but when it comes to the holidays and the summer I’m basically alone in the middle of nowhere and it’s heartbreaking. Just the other night I messaged a bunch of my friends (15 to be exact) down south since I’ve been down for a couple of days, and only one replied. One. Talk about making a girl feel good about herself. Now I could go on about how friendships don’t need constant communication to be maintained but some of my friends I haven’t since in over a year, even though they only live down the road! It seems as though they have just dusted me under the carpet simply because I have new friends.
I’ve found that trying to please multiple people at once and be the person they want me to be, puts a lot of pressure on my mental health as nobody wants a friend that is having a down day or one that doesn’t want to drink because she feels like crying and screaming into her pillow. I have these days though, and while I try to fight through them sometimes my brain wins and instead of hanging out with friends I will spend the day hidden under my duvet, most likely not talking to anyone. As long as I remember to take my medication then the days are easier, but sometimes I get so caught up and busy that I actually forget to take my medication…that’s often when disaster strikes.
Since it is mental health awareness week I did think it was the right time to actually talk about my mental health the experience I’ve had with doctors and counselling services. So mental health is something I’ve struggled with from my early teenage years, starting off with anxiety and issues with my body brought on by years of endless bullying throughout primary school, and into secondary school. Going through your teen years is confusing enough as it is without having a little voice in your head making you constantly worried and other thinking, or telling you that you aren’t good enough. Now I developed breasts at a very early age (11 to be exact) which just added fuel to the fire of my bullies and made me actually loathe my body. I cannot tell you how many times I cried while shopping for bras because my boobs were ‘too big’ to wear pretty bras like everyone else my age could and it made me extremely insecure about myself. This is roughly when I started to develop a mild depression, but because I was a teenage dealing with hormones it was simply swept under the carpet. It actually took until I was nineteen, and taking into a hospital after a failed (thankfully) suicide attempt, only then did my doctor take me seriously…despite the fact that the physiatric doctor I saw in the hospital calling me pathetic. Great job there, just what someone wants to hear.
Since then I’ve been placed in Citalopram medication, and while medication might not be for everyone it helps me very much, it just makes daily life that little more bearable. While I have been formally diagnosed with depression I expect that I may also have SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) as my depression always gets a lot worse in the autumn and winter months, which isn’t exactly ideal when you’re a student. I’ve also had a couple of councilling sessions since my hospital trip, a handful straight after I came out of the hospital and another run of sessions after my breakup at the start of this year. I was put forward for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) soon after my first diagnosis, but due to the fact that I was receiving talking therapy at my university it put me at a lower priority(?) despite the fact that my doctor is keen for me to relearn ways to healthily realise my emotions opposed to taking them out on myself as I previously had.
Mental health is completely different to each person, while I’m still able to go out drinking and partying with my friends’ someone else might not. That doesn’t mean I don’t also have days where I just lie in bed and watch films and do nothing, not even bothering to shower. To me it’s important to find a balance, I try not to feel guilty if I decide to have a day in bed and it’s obviously something that I need and it gives me a chance to think and reflect on all the positives in my life (I try to avoid thinking about anything negative).
If there’s one thing I’d like to change about how mental health is perceived would include people understanding that mental health is exactly the same as physical health and therefore should be treated in the same way. You wouldn’t expect someone with a broken leg to go to work in a physical job, so why should someone with crippling depression be forced? Simply because their illness is ‘invisible’.
Love you lots like jelly tots x
All photographs in this post were taken by me on my Fujifilm Finepix S4240 in unnatural lighting and edited on Facetune and VSCO.
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