I have decided to launch my blog on world Mental Health day 2018 – because what better way to celebrate today than to speak about my own struggles with my mental health.
I was advised to start this blog, by the therapist I visited earlier this year. I was told, “an emotionally aware young person, like yourself, could really help people.” To which I laughed at, awkwardly. On reflection, I wasn’t particularly fair to myself. I’ve learnt that writing helps, it’s a welcomed distraction for me, and when I tell people my story, they’re usually interested and want to learn more.
So here I am, ready to bare all and talk about shit, my shit, my personal shit. I think I’ve written shit too many times.
If there’s one thing I know growing up in the age of social media, it’s that you may as well publish all of your problems on the internet. So here goes!
2018 has been an interesting year for me, so far. I feel like it has been a real turning point for me, and my mental health, as I’m finally at peace with a lot of the things I have been struggling with in my life. I think part of this came from my first ever bout of therapy, where I faced a lot of the problems I had avoided dealing with in the past.
I was diagnosed with OCD in 2016, my last year of secondary school. However, I think my OCD and anxiety started way back, when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I would assign myself tasks, such as tapping something 3 times or running up and down the stairs 4 times in a day (these examples are pretty specific, but that’s because I actually used to do that shit – sorry for writing shit again). I honestly believed that if I didn’t complete these tasks, then the world would END. I even threw up one new year’s eve because I convinced myself that comets were about to land and blow us all up. Talk about dramatic.
As I got older, my OCD manifested itself in the same way that it does with many others – through the need to clean. I started to throw things away, into the bin. Not just rubbish, I would throw away tea towels, pots and pans, hair brushes – literally the most random objects from my house. It got to the point where my mum and dad would have to go through the bin and sift out everything that I had thrown away, not to use it again (as it had been in the bin, gross), but to show me what I was throwing away and ask me – WHY?! They realised I was going through something when I couldn’t give them an answer, because I couldn’t even remember what I had been throwing away.
Finally, when I finished my GCSE’s, I went to my GP and was diagnosed. However, I didn’t take action. Instead, my OCD grew worse and worse. It got to the point where I would have to hoover my bedroom, the stairs and bleach the upstairs bathroom every single day. It would be the first thing I would do when I got home from work, the first thing I would do on waking up at the weekend and I would be thinking about it non stop. I would be faced with a horrible, deep angst in the pit of my stomach if I knew that I hadn’t engaged in my cleaning ritual for a day. It really took a hold of my life.
I think it took me so long, since I was first diagnosed, to face up to my OCD because I was embarrassed. It’s hard to be taken seriously when the thing that is causing you so much heartache, and making your life so difficult, is funny. Little did I know, that embracing the humour was the only way to address the stigma attached to OCD head on.
After two difficult years, I can finally say that I have taken the agency back in my life and am no longer dictated by the OCD which I have suffered with for so long. In the words of my fantastic therapist, “It’s important to tell your OCD to just fuck off,” and if you know me, you know how much I love to swear.
I have to stress that my mental health problems are not severe, and I am not trying to throw myself a pity party. It’s imperative to talk about things, no matter how big or small. I have been truly lucky to be able to face my problems head on with a supportive network of friends and family around me, but not everyone is so fortunate.
Please, please, please remember that you are NOT alone and there are always people who can and will help. Including me. I’m more than happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs one.
If you are suffering and would like to talk, visit the below link to find organisations who are there to help: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/mental-health-help-you/other-useful-organisations