For far too long now, people have been so concerned about their physical health and wellbeing that they don't even seem to notice the lack of attention that they are giving towards their mental health. We're now in 2016, so I think it's definitely time to change.
Considering the fact that I've only been living for 15 years, I've been through quite a few obstacles and hurdles along the way, which haven't always been particularly easy to overcome - believe me. I thought that today I'd talk to you about my own personal struggles with mental health and hopefully it will help and encourage some of you to go out and seek support.
Ever since I was little, I've always found many situations particularly difficult. I was always very quiet and reserved, so making new friends and socialising always proved to be quite a tough task for me personally. I preferred to keep myself to myself and just get on with it as best as I could. Having very limited friends in primary school did bother me, but I never let it effect me to such an extreme extent. Once I got to secondary school though, it was a whole other story.
Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 were all equally difficult years. I was being bullied and I also wasn't very happy at home. When you're in a situation like that, where you literally don't want to be anywhere, but by yourself in your own little world, you can begin to feel very isolated and hopeless. I hadn't really got anybody to talk to, as I'd just end up pushing people away, in the fear that I couldn't trust them. It's not that I didn't open up to them, because I did, but they just didn't really help that much at all. If anything, I think they just pitied me and felt sorry for me, which obviously wasn't ideal. I mean, let's be honest here, growing up and going through puberty is enough of a struggle for any young person, but then having further issues to add to that, it just makes things kind of impossible really.
As well as being bullied and feeling quite out of place at school, I was also growing up without a dad and having to deal with my home life at the same time. It wasn't absolutely awful, but I do think that an absent parent has had quite a negative impact on me over the years, particularly as I've entered into the teen stage. I was quite moody and miserable at the best of times anyway, but then throwing a bunch of hormones into the mix just made it 1000 times worse. I must have been pretty horrible to get on with - I think I'm still quite difficult sometimes, even now that I've grown up and matured! All of these thoughts and feelings are just dancing about in your head and when they are all things that you have never experienced before in your life, you can begin to feel quite confused and frightened, because it seems like you're the only one going through this change. The reality of it is though, everyone else goes through puberty too and it soon becomes the norm, so there really is nothing to worry about - trust me!
I guess the problems really started at the end of Year 7. As I've already mentioned, I was being bullied on a daily basis and I felt quite out of place, as well as there being constant disagreements and arguing at home (usually always down to my mood swings and irritability, I must admit), so it really wasn't the best time at all. I began to experience symptoms of severe depression and anxiety, but I never wanted to open up and talk about it, because I was so young and I didn't feel like anybody else would understand. I tried to talk to people, I really did, but they were growing up themselves and I knew that everyone had their own problems, so I just really didn't want to pile even more upon them, no matter how much I was struggling inside. I was self-conscious, lonely and deeply unhappy. It felt like every day and every night was just a constant battle and I genuinely didn't think things would ever change. From then on, it just got worse and spiralled out of control.
I ended up self-harming to the point where it became an addiction that I was unable to control anymore, I was crying almost every day and every night, I was excluding myself even more from all of the other girls and boys my age at school, I was shutting myself away at home and trying to avoid any contact with any other humans and I just slowly began shutting myself away. I know I was only in the younger years of school, but still, age doesn't matter when it comes to mental illness'. It can be just as frightening at the age of 30 as it can be at the age of 13, so just because some people may think that 12 or 13 is 'too young' to be suffering from a mental illness, it doesn't mean that they are right in the slightest. Mental illness' can start at any age, so others really have no right to judge, unless they have been through such a traumatic time themselves.
So, things didn't really change that much. They stayed pretty much the same throughout the next 2 and a half years. It was a constant cycle of self-harm, self-hate and sadness. I didn't think that I would ever be able to escape. I'm not going to lie to you or sugar coat it here. Those 2 and a half years were absolutely awful. Each day dragged and I genuinely thought that I would never make it out to the other side. I felt so scared and so alone in the world that I genuinely didn't even want to be in it any more. To say that I often battled with suicidal thoughts would be an understatement. When you're in such a dark place, it can be really challenging to open up and seek support - but, if you don't do it, then you will never be able to get out and find the light.
Over time, I managed to start speaking to close friends and my boyfriend at the time. I'm still very close with my ex and I'm still very close with (most of) the friends that I spoke to back then as well. I opened up to them and then I went seeking for support in anyway that I could possibly get it. I wasn't attention-seeking in any way, shape or form. I was just simply reaching out to the people that I could trust and trying to take their tips when it came to getting myself out of the hole that was depression. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I also knew that these people anted to support me. They had found out what they was going on and they didn't want it to carry on any longer - neither did I.
In order to get better, you have to want it to happen. You have to understand that you will have dark days again. You will have days where you want to curl up in a ball and give up. You can't do that though. There is more to life than how you may be feeling now.
My loved ones supported me and encouraged me to find happiness, and that's exactly what I did. It took a lot of time and a lot of effort, but I did it. I took baby steps and I found people that made me happy and that made me feel safe and appreciated for who I am. I was also in regular contact with ChildLine and I would honestly say that if you're struggling, you should definitely get in touch with them first. They really did help me more than I ever expected and it can be so reassuring to know that your secrets are safe with whoever it is that you talk to, because all of the conversations are 100% confidential. Talking to someone may seem like the scariest thing in the world, but once you have opened up to one person, you genuinely do feel like a whole weight has been lifted off your shoulders. A weight that has stopped you from being happy and feeling free for so long.
I'm perfectly happy with you coming to talk to me first if you feel as though you don't have anyone else to open up to. My Twitter is @jademillardx and you're more than welcome to send me a dm in your time of need. I'll do my very best to help you, as I know what it feels like to believe that you're an outsider. I don't want anyone to have to struggle alone. Not now, not ever.
Regardless of what you're going through right now, I really do urge you to open up and seek support. You won't be seen as weak. You won't be seen as stupid. You will be seen as an individual who just needs a little bit of guidance and extra love. There's nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, it's absolutely, 110% normal.
Here are a few of my top tips for those of you who may be struggling:
- Talk openly about your issues and concerns to those that you trust. (If you feel as though you can't trust anyone, then talk to me or ChildLine!!)
- Do what you love and surround yourself with the people that mean the most to you.
- Never, ever give up. The weather won't be stormy forever.
I've actually done a few blog pots about mental health, so you're more than welcome to check them out if you feel as though they may be of some use to you:
If you want to email me, then you can do so here; firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for reading this guest post! I really hope it helped some of you in some way.
You are worth more than you think. Don't be afraid to speak about your demons. They won't haunt you forever.
Lots of love always,