I've been struggling with my mental health since I was about 16, when I was in sixth form college. There's no significant event which triggered my decline but I'm pretty confident the extensive bullying I was a victim to throughout both primary and high school, finally took their toll.
My first attempt to get help for my difficulties was not a positive one, I visited my GP when I was living at home and I wasn't taken seriously, as is the case with many young people. I was told I didn't fit the criteria for depression because I hadn't experienced a "decrease in libido" despite me being a seventeen year old who had never been sexually active and who'd recently started identifying as a sex repulsed asexual. I was told I could "access online counselling" and sent on my way. Funnily enough, as a seventeen year old opening up and telling a professional that their mind is scaring them, I actually wanted to be helped. I was made to feel like I wasn't "ill enough" - which is never true if you open up and ask for help, you deserve to get it!
Fortunately when I came to university my experience was completely different. Eight months after my previous attempt to get help, I found myself sat in the waiting room to a "mental health friendly practice". I saw a GP who was really helpful, explaining my options, telling me how brave I was and helping me decide what my next step should be - accessing the University Counselling Service. In under a month I was seen by a wonderful counsellor who didn't question the existence of my issues, but saw me as a person who really did want to get better.
Sadly, this form of therapy didn't really help me in the long run, I was seen regularly for about six months and left feeling some, but not a lot of benefit, due to the nature of my problems. I was disappointed that I hadn't made more progress but I didn't lose hope, and I'm incredibly grateful for the support which I received.
In September of last year, returning to university for my second year, I saw a different (but equally as helpful) GP. This time, after fully discussing my options, and once again deciding that medication wasn't for me (partially my own choice but also my GPs opinion), I was put on the waiting list for an NHS therapy. In January, I was finally able to have an initial appointment with a Clinical Psychologist where I was told that it sounded like I was a 'suitable' candidate for the kinds of therapies they provide. Sadly, the result of this meeting was not the speedy access to help that I desired, but another waiting list, one that I am still on now. Despite being told it would be four to six weeks, we're rapidly approaching ten.
This bring me up to where I am now, one year into my book blogging journey and three, nearly four, years into my journey with mental health issues. I'm not better, but I've learnt a lot which I intend to begin to share more with others.
One of the things I can't stress enough if you're trying to get help is to persevere, if you don't get the answers you're looking for first time around, try again, reach out and keep on reaching out until you get somewhere you're happy with. It's really difficult not to get disheartened, but patience is key and with services being so underfunded, there's little else you can do but wait, and try to find ways to make it easier for you to do just that. Book blogging has helped more than I ever thought it would with this, it's restarted a fire in my heart for books which had been lost during my struggles and getting back into reading over this period has honestly helped my ability to cope no end.
So this is my mental health and me, I hope that from reading this you can understand that it's not always as simple as seeking help, getting diagnosed, and then getting better. Coming up to four years of struggling with my mental health I don't have a solid diagnosis of a specific 'disorder' and I haven't yet found a treatment which works for me. But I'm confident that one day I will and for anyone else in the same shoes, I'm certain that you will do as well.
Thanks for reading this super long post!
If you're in need of help please talk to someone, I'm available to chat if you want someone impartial and if you want me to point you to any professional websites or phone numbers I'm more than happy to do that.