This is definitely going to be a hard one to write, it’s probably why I’ve been procrastinating and not actually doing it. I won’t really go into a lot of detail but in my life I’ve had to deal with living with an abusive dad, having a chronic illness, being sexually assaulted, raped and abusive relationships/friendships. It’s all really a domino effect and I think each major incident led to another one.
I think I first became aware that I had depression when I was 13. The situation at home had come to a final blow and the rest of my family were dealing with the effects from that. I started harming myself as I wasn’t really sure what to do, and then became very dependent on alcohol. People in my point class at school didn’t get it and would often tell the teachers that I harmed myself; those teachers didn’t care. Never did they actually sit down and ask me what was wrong. I was lucky enough to come out of that bout of depression.
I feel like I thought I was okay mentally for the next two years even though I probably wasn’t. It wasn’t until I went to a local college that I realised I had anxiety. It was bad. To the point where I wouldn’t even want to go to college but again I just ignored it. I was 16 at the time and I remember going to the doctors saying I was depressed and they ignored me and thought I was being ‘dramatic’.
As time went on, the anxiety got worse. There was an incident with an ex best friends boyfriend threatening me with violence which in turn accelerated my anxiety to the point where I’d avoid certain places and wouldn’t go to raves anymore which was something I loved doing.
Unfortunately, I was raped in 2015 and things started going downhill. Again I was scared to go to certain areas, I was scared of people touching me and became very un-affectionate and it affected my following relationships. In 2016 I developed an alcohol problem, drinking to stop the pain and stop me thinking about certain things. Still the doctors wouldn’t do anything about it. I was cyber bullied by anonymous accounts and by someone who was an old friend. At this point I couldn’t even leave the house by myself. I’d get panic attacks, have a breakdown and the anxiety was overwhelming.
I had a bad breakup in January 2017 and I just didn’t recover from that. The depression was awful. I would cry everyday for many hours, have breakdowns, I just couldn’t get out of this ‘funk.’ I feel like the doctors are partly responsible for this as they didn’t take me seriously until I refused to leave my house for appointments and would have hysteric breakdowns on the phone. It was then that they decided to put me the antidepressant Fluoxetine. I also was referred to I-Cope who in turn told me they couldn’t cope with my complex issues. It was here that I was finally diagnosed with depression, generalised anxiety and social anxiety; it took five years to get these diagnosis’!
To be told that made me feel like no one cared and that there was something wrong with me that no one would be able to fix. The doctors didn’t give me regular reviews and I was left by myself to get on with it. The fluoxetine was not working at all. My doctors surgery put me on the waiting list for The Brandon Centre. I started an assessment there where the male therapist was mean and didn’t let me talk about my issues. The only positive thing that came out of this experience was that they finally gave me a PTSD diagnosis. In this time I also moved doctors and got them to eventually change my medication to Sertraline.
Things didn’t work out at The Brandon Centre with either of my therapists there and again I was left with no help. During that time there were two incidents where I was in danger of harming myself and other services had to be brought in for my own safety. The sertraline was having an adverse effect on me and I had to change to Mirtazapine. Initially I thought this one was working but it wasn’t, in fact it was making me 10X worse. During this time, my doctors weren’t sympathetic at all. They stopped caring. Stopped listening to what I had to say.
I tried to get anxiety medication as I’d never been given any, and still now I haven’t been put on any. I struggle through each day even trying to do simple tasks. I get anxiety attacks that aren’t triggered by anything and can go on for six hours.
I’ve now made the decision to come off antidepressants – with the help of my family who have been extremely supportive and my boyfriend – as I don’t think they’re good for me and you know what? I’ve been myself for the first time since I was put on them. I didn’t realise they were ruining my body, ruining my personality and had made me a completely different person. I’d like to point out that I’ve had many councillors, psychologists and therapists over the years and I’ve never once been given any coping strategies or mechanisms for when I want to harm myself, or when I have anxiety.
My advice to anyone who is struggling with mental health or trying to get a diagnosis, don’t rely on doctors; they don’t really care and have far too many patients to keep track of you. If you are fortunate to have money, I would advise you seek help from private health services rather than the NHS. Do your own research about what’s out there and about your medication and try and find your own strategies of helping yourself. I personally don’t think therapy or medication is always necessarily the answer.
A few apps that I use are: Pacifica, Calm Harm and Calm. I find mediation has helped me a lot as well. I hope someone at least gets something out of me sharing my story and remember you are not alone and it’s okay not to be okay!