Mental Health

Mental health is a complex and personal topic, one that is stigmatised. My personality type is an ENFP, which in summary means that I’m an extremely emotional extrovert. This has resulted in my mental health being an absolute state. In previous posts, I’ve spoken about my mental health. I suffer from quite a few anxiety disorders, OCD, a phobia and depression. As you can imagine, it has made my life difficult and I never expected things to be like this.
I have been dealing with all these things for 5 years now. The one that destroyed and took over my life most was my phobia, which may come as a shock. I don’t often feel comfortable talking about having a phobia as I feel like they’re rarely taken seriously. I learnt about phobias at school and one girl said she has a ‘phobia of planes but is calm on planes’ which is possibly the most inaccurate description of having a phobia. I have a phobia of throwing up, which is called emetophobia. The symptoms of emetophobia that I had was that I stopped eating altogether, I stopped sleeping, I stopped leaving the house, I had constant panic attacks all through the day, I was constantly dehydrated because I was too scared to drink water, I couldn’t cope with school and I needed my parents to be in the house at all times or I’d panic and cry hysterically. I have dealt with the extremities of emetophobia twice in my life: October 2013 and January 2016. The second time I felt extreme fear, I stopped being able to travel on trains, planes or any spaces that were confined. I also stopped being able to eat at restaurants or around other people, drink alcohol, go out in the evening and go to parties. It completely took over my life and has devastated me in an unbelievable way.
My relapse in January 2016 was especially frustrating. I had recently recovered from my anxiety and was starting to become much less anxious and phobic and before I knew it, it had slapped me straight in the face again. The scariest part is that it comes out of nowhere, one day this feeling arrives and it doesn’t leave. It feeds on your fear. The only thing I could think about for months on end was throwing up and it was terrifying.
Incredibly, things have progressed since that dark time and I have had so much support throughout it all. I can now eat, I’m sleeping the best I’ve slept for years, I’m hydrated and I fucking love going on nights out. I still have a bit of a way to go, I can’t travel on the tube/trains alone and I still find drinking really anxiety provoking. I can eat at restaurants, which is something I’m proud of. I don’t find it the most enjoyable experience but I can cope and still have a good time, which is what is most important. I’m the most independent I’ve been in over a year which has been my aim and I don’t feel like a huge burden in the way I did this time last year.
Unfortunately, once my anxiety started to deflate my depression immediately inflated. In December, I started to get insecure about my relationships with people and I spent days on end completely terrified of people abandoning me, not caring about me or not loving me. In January, it only got worse. I used to sit with my mum and cry about being the ‘worst person’ and ‘no one caring about me’. I was so convinced everyone hated me and that I was letting everyone down, and it felt endless. I have never been one to care about people’s opinions of me but suddenly it was all I cared about, and it was unbearable.
I was prescribed antidepressants alongside still being in therapy. Neither made a difference and I got myself to an extremely low point. I felt like I didn’t exist and I spent most of my time wishing I hadn’t woken up in the morning. That was scary, because I felt so detached and unreal that I couldn’t balance any of my relationships and my mood was putting a lot of pressure on the people around me. That didn’t help my insecurities, but eventually those feelings became less intense and passed which was a relief for me and everyone else around me. I haven’t learnt how to accept these feelings yet and I still work myself up as soon as I feel myself falling into a dark place because I can’t cope in the way I wish I could. I get scared as soon as I feel myself becoming less independent and lose control because all I have ever wanted is to be independent, happy and be there for other people.
Things have improved a little these past few weeks. Last week my antidepressants were raised, so I’m hoping they begin to make a difference. I have dropped out of therapy because I was given an awful therapist who invalidated me and made me feel worse. I feel okay about it, I’m a bit scared about being out in the world ‘alone’ but I feel like I’m stable enough to work through things on my own. I still have more bad days than good, but they are less than they were last month and I cope better with them (I still don’t cope amazingly, I admit, but I’m getting there).
In all honesty, disappointingly this week has been harder than I expected. I didn’t go to school because it seemed too daunting and stressful. I went in on Wednesday and had the worst panic attack I had experienced in months which scared me further and gave me another reason to avoid school. This weekend has been especially difficult. Yesterday I spent the evening crying to one of my best friends about how ‘worthless’ and ‘unloved’ I am (in quotations because I am aware I was being irrational) and this morning I woke up and the first thing I did was cry. It can be hard, because I have this overwhelming loneliness that follows me around but the people around me are so patient with me. Last night especially, my friends Anna and Lily gave me some of the best advice. Lily said to me ‘sometimes you feel like you’re connecting and sometimes you’re not, and that’s okay’ which is something important, for me at least, to remember because I get really scared when I feel distant from people. I am eternally grateful for the people in my life, who spend days lying in bed with me when I’m feeling too low to do anything more and make me happy constantly. It’s something that has encouraged me a lot over the past few months.
I know this post has been heavy, it has taken me ages to write and work out how to explain everything in the right way and talking about my mental health can upset me, but it’s getting easier. I just hope that if you are dealing with any of these feelings, that this makes you feel less alone because the worst feeling in the world is feeling like you’re the only one feeling this way – and as cliché as it is, you’re never alone. I cannot emphasise how important talking to people and getting help is, because no one is the exception to recovery and everyone deserves to be happy.
I am hopeful that things will improve for me and as frustrating as the wait is, the idea of one day being happy is something I look forward to greatly.
Things always pass.

– Scarlet


An Update (10 months later)

It has been a while. In fact, as soon as I disappeared my life suddenly became much more eventful, interesting and positive. I found a safe haven in watching Rupauls Drag Race for 3 months straight and ended up making friends with some of the most important people I know – and will ever know. 2016 was a rough, but very important year including some very special people, I can’t deny you that.

It amazes me how different my life was less than a year ago, how my priorities, friendships and self schema have drastically changed. I feel like I have aged in just 10 months and even though I still doubt myself more often than not, my growth is always something I should be proud of.

*Amazingly, despite talking about how much has changed, I’m currently listening to Youth by Daughter, a song I had on repeat throughout my iconic mental breakdown in February 2016. (it’s a good song though.)

I’ll begin with my mental health, as I never give myself enough credit for how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked regarding it all. This time last year, I was barely leaving the house and couldn’t eat out or stay at other people’s houses. I couldn’t travel alone – especially on the tube and I was isolated from everything and everyone. To this day, I still wonder how I survived January 2016 because that period of time was torture and I like to think it only made me stronger. I can now leave the house, I can eat out, I can stay round at other people’s houses and if I’m really pushing it, I can travel on the tube alone. Most of these things are still scary for me and I know it will take a while to get to a point where they aren’t scary but hopefully, my hard work and practice will pay off. I’m resilient and I try so hard, it’s something I’m always proud of.

I’m still in therapy, doing the same thing. I’ve got through two therapists now and I’m onto my third. Having to adapt after somewhat ‘losing’ two people who I was quite attached to has been difficult but it’s made each loss a little easier. I’ve recently been prescribed antidepressants and I’m hoping the combination of medication and therapy is beneficial because I’m so desperate to be okay again. However, I’m finally confident that thing’s are getting easier.

A slightly more boring topic is that I have now applied for university. I’ve also been rejected by my top choices, which is making things more complicated than they should be. On a more positive note, I’m taking a gap year with a couple of my closest friends and right now, that’s something I’m really looking forward to. I can’t wait to become more independent, confident and sleep in later than 8am. I can’t wait to travel and not have the pressures of school hanging over me. I’m most excited to spend time with people I love and care about, and only people I love and care about.

Another drastic change in my life are my relationships with people. They couldn’t be more different from how they were a year ago. Some of the most prominent people in my life this time last year, I no longer talk to and if I’m honest, I am so much happier without them. They became the people who made me feel insecure and insignificant. Unfortunately, their hostility and lack of communication has left me constantly worrying about people lying to me and not caring about me (which is something I desperately want to get rid of). However, after dropping those who were toxic for me and distancing myself from unhealthy people in my life, I have finally been able to focus on the people I care about and are positive influences in my life and that’s been such a relief. There isn’t a single person in my life who I wouldn’t want around in 10 years time and I feel comfortable around all of them. I have never been surrounded by such loving, caring and compassionate people who only ever make me happy and I’m endlessly grateful for all of them.

The final thing which is of great significance and is probably the most prominent and positive change is that I am now in a relationship and have been for over 4 months, with a girl. By dating her, I have become increasingly confident with my own sexuality and I’ve now come out to my parent’s, who haven’t been anything but supportive. Being in a relationship is a constant learning experience and there have been things and people who have tried to get in the way, but I believe that it’s all worth it. I’m in a long distance relationship which is the hardest part, as the distance feels so prominent and difficult – I miss her more and more every time we are apart, but knowing that in a years time there probably won’t be any distance is unbelievably motivating.

I’m also lucky enough to be in a relationship with genuinely one of the most caring, beautiful, patient and funny people I have ever known. She’s my best friend and has been a close friend long before any romantic feelings which I’m really happy about – there are very few people who are lucky enough to be dating their closest friend and every day I can’t believe I’m one of them. (Sorry for the cringe additional bit at the end)

I’m hoping 2017 is overall much more positive than last year. This month has been tough but most importantly, it’s nearly over. I hope that this update has been interesting and that I write again before 2018 this time. I also want to quickly thank Vanessa, Karli, Fae, Keya, Anna Ray, Leanne, Dhara, Zoya, Seher, Georgie and of course Tabby for their support and patience with me this past year as I know I’m not the easiest person to deal with. Thank you.

– Scarlet