Friday, 31 March 2017

Mental health and me

So my blog is turning one tomorrow and I thought it was about time I wrote a post about my mental health, which was one my main reasons for starting this blog. This is a really brave post for me to write and I've never said too much about it before, but reducing stigma is so important and this seemed like the right time. 1-in-4 people in the UK will struggle with their mental health at some point in their lives, so why are we so afraid to talk about it? Being mentally unwell shouldn't be something to be ashamed of.

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.


  1. Hey, it wasn't that long a post :)
    I've also been there. Although I've never braved up and looked for help. Although I'm sure I would have told something like you (that thing about the libido is absolutely disgusting, BTW, and I can't believe it). Right now, I'm just couldn't afford psychiatry (our medical system is bullshit anyway), so I just keep going. I'm 28. I have been struggling with it since I was, dunno, 14.
    So I feel ya :|

    It's really lovely how you came up with the idea to use your blog to keep up. Does it help the way you hoped it would?

    1. That must be so difficult, I'm so grateful that I've been able to access free support here tbh! That's all you have to do I guess, just keep on going! Honestly my blog helps me a lot just by giving me something to do I guess! Self care and distracting myself are some of the most important things I can do!

  2. Hey girl, thanks so much for your honesty and vulnerability. I have blogged about my mental illness journey too, so I understand how hard it is! And I understand how terrifying it is to open up at first and ask for help! I'm so glad you did, and that, despite your negative experience, you still sought help and were able to receive it. That is really brave. PS I am really glad I found your blog- defs following!

    1. Sorry for the super late reply! Thank you so much :) I'm now seeing a clinical psychologist regularly too so it's all a matter of patience I think!