Mental illnesses

Many people in the UK are affected by mental illness, the statistics say around 1 in 4 people. This can vary from depression, panic disorder, personality disorders through to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia and Eating Disorders and many other mental illnesses.

I personally view that no mental illness is worse than another. Each put individuals and those around them through difficult times.

Some mental illnesses are short-term whereas other they can be life-long conditions.

Treatment varies from person-to-person depending on their symptoms, diagnosis and what support is available to the locally. This may include medication, inpatient and/or outpatient treatment, talking therapies, Occupational Therapy and other forms of therapy.

Mental illness and Me

For as long as I remember I’ve had a fixation with the number 3 and the number 9 (as 3 3’s are 9).

My depression really hit me hard when I was 11 and I moved to secondary school. Over the six week holidays from primary school to secondary school all my peers from primary school had suddenly grown up and became different people when we all started at secondary school and I felt left behind.

I was bullied in primary school and in secondary school it only got worse. If I wasn’t hated by one person of clique of people I was hated by another person or clique or the boys just found it more fun to wind me up than play football or hang about this was all in and out of class. I quickly sank into depression and this wasn’t helped by the bereavement of my Nana.

As well as falling into a dark hole of depression I also fell down the rabbit hole of anorexia. With anorexia you become a master of hiding your eating disorder but soon my depression and anorexia spiralled out of control. I also had other things going on too and quickly I was too unwell to be managed in the community and I went into inpatient treatment.

I hated inpatient treatment; (I don’t think many people would say they do like it in all honesty) but the upside was that it gave me respite from school.

I spent time in several inpatient units but what helped me the most was psychotherapy, something I never really got as in inpatient apart from in one really good unit I was in. I think I probably owe my life to my therapist and I’d love to find her and let her know that I’m doing okay and that I’m still here.

I’ve had therapy since her with mixed results. For me I can’t just rely upon medication. I’m doing okay now. I still have my bad days, but we all do sometimes. My depression and CPTSD are well managed; the main thing I’m struggling with at present is my panic disorder (anxiety), but I rarely need input from mental health services now. Last year I ended some long term therapy that really helped me and I had a few more sessions recently just to ‘check in’ when my mental health hit rock bottom a little but after a few sessions I felt much better and able to cope better.

Therapy has taught me a lot about myself over the many years I’ve been in therapy. I’m a person who personally benefits from using creativity in therapy; I find creativity helps me find the words when I can find them with my voice. Sometimes I’ve just drawn or written things down, other times I’ve used things like a sand tray or done creative activities, like one time I make a kintsugi bowl.

Therapy is different for everyone. For some people it doesn’t gel for them, or they might not have found the right type of therapy. For me there’s some types of therapy that suit me more than others, like I really don’t get on with CBT but I get on with psychoanalytic/psychodynamic or creative therapies.

I’ve been really lucky with my eating disorder. 1 in 10  people with an eating disorder will lose their life; I’ve lost people I’ve known to this illness; too many people for someone my age and I know that I could so easily have been part of that statistic. Eating disorders, especially anorexia, have the highest mortality rate out of any mental illness; even higher than depression as most people believe. It’s hard as too many young lives, too many futures have been lost. It’s truly hard to put into words what it’s like to be in the grips of anorexia as so many irrational things to others were totally rational to me when I was unwell. I’m still always careful about certain things, food and my OCD played a part in my eating disorder but I’ve come a long LONG way, even doing things I wouldn’t think I’d be able to do 10 years ago let alone 15 years ago. I think my eating disorder will always be there faintly in the background it’s just me learning to be in control rather than it be the other way around.

I think mental illness is just something that is as much part of my health as my physical health illnesses and like the latter I take medication for. I’ve received some good therapy over time which has helped just like I’ve had physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy for my physical health.

There’s no shame at all in having a mental illness; that’s why I’m including this page. I haven’t shared everything, just what I feel comfortable sharing, but I feel hopefully what I have shared has helped you realise that it’s okay to talk about mental health such as having depression just as much as you’d share about braking your arm which is a physical health problem. Plus my physical illnesses/disabilities do have a toll on my mental health. I get ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’ sometimes along with the isolation too. I feel lucky to have a good support network.

My advice to anyone is don’t be made to feel ashamed of your mental illness, it’s just a fault with your brain just like a broken arm is a broken broken in two. Recovery is possible, it’ll just take time just like that plaster cast for the broken arm. It might take some time to find the right treatment both with medication and I’d always say if therapy isn’t working, try a different type of therapy and give therapy a chance to work too. Trust your therapist as they’ll know what’s best for you. Also there’s nothing wrong if you’ve had a inpatient stay, there’s no shame in this either.