I had a different blog post written for today, but seeing that it is ‘World Mental Health Day’, I decided to change it and write a post about my mental health for today.
I used to be a really happy, bubbly child.
When I was young, I thought I could do anything and had no fear, even to the point that when I started a new school, (which happened to have a swimming pool) I told the teacher that I was a great swimmer, took a jump off the side into the water with great confidence, and nearly drowned!
As the years went by, I started putting on weight and everything started to change. The name calling started, the incredibly well thought out and intelligent ‘Oi Fatty!’ and all that kind of bollocks was shouted at me on a daily basis. There was one instance when (on a non-school uniform day) another girl and I turned up wearing a sweater with the same branding on it and she looked at me with disgust and said to her friend ‘gross, I’ll never wear this again!’.
The way I thought about things started to change. My home life wasn’t great, my Mum tried her best, but my Dad is an alcoholic with a temper problem. My Sister and I have never gotten on. She was my biggest bully growing up, she clearly never wanted a sister (or at least, me as a sister). I was always looked upon as ‘the artistic’ one, whereas she was the ‘brainy’ one.
I stopped going to school. I ‘officially’ left in the April before my GCSE’s were due to be taken. In that summer I dropped 5 stone, felt amazing, and in the September I started college, doing Art & Design no less! Obviously at that age, I started having an interest in boys, and a year later, I stumbled into an abusive relationship. I should have heard the warning bells after him telling me 2 days after meeting him that he loved me. I wasn’t allowed to wear what I wanted, I wasn’t allowed to spend time with my friends. He called me a psycho, kept putting me down, kept telling me what things I could change to look better, etc. And after he got drunk one night, the physical abuse started. He was the final nail in the coffin of my confidence.
I left college and got a full time job. I was like a mouse, hated answering the phone and serving customers, I was terribly shy, but it was there that I met a friend of mine, that I’m still in touch with to this day. She is an incredibly strong Scottish woman who helped to bring me out of my shell. I’ll never forget when an old bully from school came into the shop we were working in and just stood there laughing at me. My friend told me to go and sit in the office, served the scumbag and then let me know when she’d gone.
My confidence started to build, I worked my way up through this job, then decided to return to university. Just before starting, I met my (now) Husband. I completed a years access course and was enrolled on a photography degree. I decided to not go through with the degree, as we wanted to move in together, so I got a full time job in an office to pay my part of the bills and we moved in with 2 friends of his. That was a big mistake as all they did was argue with each other, which made for a bit of a crap living situation. We moved into our own flat 6 months later and we were really happy while living there. I then started to have panic attacks. They came out of no where. I felt really good, I was happy, so why was I having panic attacks? I kept saying to the doctors, I have nothing to panic about?!
I then collapsed at work. I went to see an emergency doctor and he told me again, this was a panic attack. He said ‘they can be quite disabling to some people’, to which I broke down in tears, and he said, ‘Oh, perhaps I shouldn’t have said that’. I felt like I was having a break down. We put notice on our flat and (stupidly) moved back in with my parents, which wasn’t the calmest, happiest place to be. My Dad and I don’t get on. We had physical fights throughout my time living there.
My mental health really deteriorated and I ended up developing agoraphobia. If I tried to leave the house, I’d have a panic attack, so I didn’t bother.
On talking to my Mum, she ok’d it with my Dad, for me to get a dog. This really helped me, something I could focus on, rather than myself and how I felt.
This was Mimi (she passed in 2015). I had to get up and get out of the house for her, she needed her walks. By doing this, I got talking to people again. We’d always be stopped and spoken to. She was an Afghan Hound, so they’re not a breed people see often. This really helped to get me back on track and return to work and start to lead a normal life again, and the panic attacks drifted away. That time in my life was hard, panic attacks are evil evil things!
My mental health issues come and go. There have been a few times since that time in my life when things have been hard. In particular this last couple of years. The months of going through tests, thinking it could be something sinister were terrifying. Although, I have lost the ability to carry a child, it could have been so much worse, and I have that to be thankful for.
I’m lucky that now feels like a new beginning. I still doubt myself, all the time if I’m honest. But I know deep down I have a good head on my shoulders and three things I really do know about are business, fashion & dogs, so that gives me confidence going ahead with my 2 businesses. I am a lot stronger mentally and I’m so lucky that I am married to a great great man who has been a huge support to me throughout! It can’t have been easy for him.
The biggest thing that has helped me recently though, is the amount that mental health is being talked about. Not being able to talk about it made me feel like there was something seriously wrong with me. I don’t feel like that anymore. Things happened to me, I wasn’t treated well at times and that stuck with me. But now I can start to change that part of me, and kind of, unglue it. Unglue all the shit. By living how you want to live, doing things you want to do, looking after yourself, achieving things, creates a new feeling about yourself. A new confidence.
I went abroad last year to New York with my Husband. I was brought up with a bit of a ‘small town mentality’. Travelling to these places wasn’t for the likes of me, that was for fancy, beautiful, confident people. It opened up my world. Although I still struggle with the ‘I’m not worthy’ thing, it’s something I’m working on. I never had the guts to go into a designer shop, until I went in Saks Fifth Avenue and was treated like *whispers* a normal person *shock horror*, and not some mutant that has just appeared from a swamp!
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, WELL DONE! I’m surprised you didn’t nod off! I just want to end this with, just be nice to people. Don’t judge them, you don’t know what they’re going through/have been through. If anyone is a dick, don’t allow them in your life anymore. It’s hard when it’s family especially, but there are no rules to say you have to spend time with them when they are mean, judgemental, negative people. We have people like this on both sides of our family unfortunately, so we just don’t spend any time with them.
One thing that has helped recently was, someone said ‘do you VALUE this persons opinion?’ If not, then what do you care what they think of you? I wish someone had said that to me in my teenage years. It would have really helped, I think.