“I think my wake-up moment in getting help for my mental health was my suicide attempt. It wasn’t my only attempt but it was the one which very nearly took my life. Growing up, I always knew things were different, and looking back, it probably stemmed from my home life. My dad was an alcoholic, my mom and dad split up when I was young, and we moved many times. Depression was something which was always with me. I remember being in school and not caring about my exams because I didn’t see myself living much longer. I always felt like I had no future.
It’s hard growing up and not knowing what is ‘wrong’ with you. My family didn’t believe I was struggling, as I was very good at hiding it/ And when it did show, they were convinced it was a phase.
When my symptoms worsened, I finally got help. After being under the care of a mental health team for 8 years, at the age of 24, I finally got my first diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I remember sitting in the psychiatrist’s office, holding my partner’s hand, and hearing the news of my diagnosis. It hurt. It felt like a knife had been plunged through my chest. I didn’t even understand the diagnosis, let alone know how to live with it, or if it was even possible?
I had tried most antidepressants already and they didn’t help. My anxiety medication wasn’t helping and they were planning to put me on even more medication. I felt like a failure. I had just gotten into a new relationship with my girlfriend and this wasn’t how it was meant to be. We spent our first few weeks together with me feeling on top of the world; trips to Amsterdam, days out shopping, and going out on dates, but little did I know this was just a symptom of my mental health condition: the manic stage. I would soon feel the come down, which was much worse. After feeling invincible for our first few weeks together, my mood started to drop, my medication was increased, and a crisis team was involved to keep me out of the hospital.
Before my girlfriend, I was in an awful relationship. The aftermath of the abusive relationship was beginning to set in. My depression intensified as I was struggling with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I was later diagnosed with in 2018. I would spend hours just lying on top of my bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking or doing nothing. I had given up. I had lost the motivation to live, to move, to eat, to even breathe. I questioned if my body would just give in and stop taking in oxygen.
Mental illness is a selfish thing. It strips you of your everything and leaves people worrying. The number of times my girlfriend had to leave work early because she was worried about me is embarrassing. Some days, she would rush home to find me crying in a heap on the kitchen floor, begging for the pain to stop. Other days, she would come home and I hadn’t moved from the position I was in when she had left for work that morning. I had nothing to fill my days with as before my illness took over. I was a full-time single mom, but as my symptoms worsened, my family and I decided it was best if my 4-month-old daughter went to stay with my mom for a few weeks. This was the hardest decision I’d ever made. I wanted to give her everything but at the time, I felt like I had nothing.
I felt alone. Now I know this was a symptom of depression, but at the time, I was convinced being alone was what I deserved so I made myself more alone. I stopped going out, I stopped seeing people, I stopped talking to people, I stopped posting on social media. I was convinced no one would notice if I was dead. The only visits I had were from the crisis team, who were visiting me twice a day. They infuriated me. As I sat in my dirty pajamas, I was faced with a perfectly-dressed person with a happy smile and a career. I felt like I was looking at everything I would never have. How the hell was I meant to live with my BPD and the pain I was carrying from my past?
Self-harm was happening more often. It felt like I was carrying so much pain and hurt that everything was in slow motion. At the time, I was convinced I wasn’t meant to live any longer. If you don’t know much about Borderline Personality Disorder, a symptom of it is fast mood changes. One moment I can feel fine, and the next I can feel so depressed my whole body hurts. Another symptom is impulsivity. This, mixed with my PTSD, didn’t go well.
In October of 2017, I tried to take my own life. My pain was too much to carry. I was so physically and emotionally tired. I was tired of hurting. I was tired of being physically ill. I was so depressed, I was being sick. I had no energy and my whole body ached. My depression wasn’t just in my head, it had taken hold of my entire body.
I had made my decision and nobody could change my mind. I believed I wasn’t meant for this world and it was torture making me live through this emotional pain every day. I believed nobody loved me and I was wasting everyone’s time by being alive. I tried to take my life in my own bedroom. I wrote my goodbyes and I did it.
My vision went blurry. I started going in and out of consciousness. I could see bright colors and all I was thinking was, ‘I regret this so much. I will never see my girlfriend, my daughter, my family again.’ Thankfully, that night, my girlfriend saved my life. She described me as white with blue lips. It feels so surreal typing this and I am so blessed to still be alive. From that day on, I made a promise to myself I would do everything in my power to be happy and to live a life I want to live, despite my mental health conditions.
I started pushing myself to do more. I started with little things, like pushing myself to get dressed on hard days. I started talking to people more, I started going to therapy, and I changed my attitude toward accepting help. In the end, I didn’t finish my course of therapy, as I had managed to get myself out of the deep dark hole I was in with the support of my mental health care coordinator, my partner, our families, and the love I have for my daughter.
I started telling my story and that’s when it all changed. I now see my pain as my strength. I realized nothing could hold me back.
After months of recovery, I started talking out and proud about my battle with mental health conditions and the trauma I had been through. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore and talking about my journey helped so much. I learned I wasn’t alone since one in four people struggle with a mental health condition. I started volunteering with a domestic abuse charity, working with other survivors. That work brought me amazing opportunities to help others. I have been on the radio as part of a media campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse. I was also part of a group of people who helped create new and more effective safeguarding pathways for victims of domestic abuse for the NHS. I set up an Instagram account and started talking more openly about my journey to raise awareness of how common it is to struggle with mental health, to help break the stigma, and allow more people to speak out.
I never thought I would be in this place. My daughter came home after just 8 weeks with my mom, my relationships with friends were back on track, I had a new supportive relationship with my dad, my partner and I got engaged, and I was now in a position to be able to help people. I didn’t think I could help myself, let alone have the ability to help others.
My recovery journey continues and years after my suicide attempt, despite my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, I am still growing stronger. I still have the occasional bad days, but my attitude towards life is much more positive. I want to live.
When I was younger, I was always told, ‘You will never get anywhere and will never be anything.’ I remember being 15 and overhearing the mom of my boyfriend at the time telling him, ‘Break up with her, she will never be anything because she’s so ill.’ I’ve been called ‘weird,’ ‘damaged,’ ‘mental,’ and made to believe I would never have the ability to do anything I wanted to do. I used to believe them, but the life I am living now proves them all wrong and this is just the beginning.
The symptoms I have described are only a small percentage of the demons I have had to battle to get to where I am today. A diagnosis of a mental health condition doesn’t have the power to define you. You are defined by what you do in spite of your struggles.
Today, I am a qualified Life Coach and NLP (neurolinguistic programming) Practitioner. I work with people to help them find themselves following trauma. I also run free online support groups for people struggling with their mental health. I believe it is important to share my story to show others no matter how dark of a place you are in, you can and you will get through it. Storms don’t last forever.”
[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Charlotte Kelly. You can follow her journey on Instagram and YouTube. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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