Katie, 18, Australia

katie tuckwell

“I’m eighteen now and myself at the ages of twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and seventeen was never convinced that I would still be alive to be this age.

My mental illnesses have affected my life for almost 10 years. I have juggled with social anxiety, depression and disordered eating/thoughts. A large part of these illnesses came from excessive physical and emotion bullying during my earlier teen years. I remember my dad yelling at me telling me we needed to leave for school one day, because I had already had about 5 days of every week off of school for several months/went home sick.

I remember feeling so physically ill from my anxiety that I barred my door up with my bed, hiding myself in my own closet. I was not yet even fourteen. I remember crying on Christmas day, in front of the camera my dad was recording us with, because I was astonished that I was still on this Earth. I hadn’t expected to make it to my fifteenth Christmas alive.

I used to cry everyday in class because of how badly my depression made me feel like I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere. I didn’t want to be anything. My bed became my home, my home became foreign. I would cry myself to sleep every single night for two years, praying to a God I don’t believe in to cease my existence. ”Just give me an illness”, ‘just take me away during the night”, ”please just let me go”. I was only fifteen .

I remember stopping myself from breathing on countless occasions during class, because my social anxiety told me that my classmates would think that my breathing was odd and that they would make fun of me for it. These are just small fragments of what mental illness does to you. It is not imaginary. It impairs you so greatly that you can barely function at times. It is an illness.

My biggest advice would be to seek help now. Don’t wait, like I did. I allowed my mental illnesses to harm me for many many years because of the shame I felt and the stigma of mental illness and telling my dad of such a ‘shameful’ thing that I had been suffering with for too long. My biggest regret is not telling someone sooner. I know it’s difficult but it is so worth it. Please don’t suffer in silence. Remember that your illness does not reflect you as a person. Your illness is not you. Remember that you are so strong for continuing with these awful illnesses in your brain. Some people do not understand this, but they are ignorant. Trust yourself. You are capable of recovery. The fact that you are still here and reading this shows you are. I have a blog that I use to express/post things to do with mental health etc,  if you would like to check it out! Feel free to message me also!
In my recovery I’ve found a variety of initial therapy, medication, eating healthier and finding/utilising my passions has helped me immensely.My passion for having a career which helps people in similar situations as mine is social work and I am now studying towards becoming a qualified social worker! Find your passion, immerse yourself within it.
I also can’t stress how important it is to surround yourself with positive energy. Toxic energy only makes it that much harder for you to recover. Do these things for yourself. You and your mental health needs to be your number one priority despite what your illnesses tell you. Make yourself your number one priority, always.
I still have bad days where I can sometimes barely function but the good days are so much better and are worth it. I am glad that I am still here despite everything. One day (if not now) you will be able to say that, too. We continue. You are worthy of life.You are stronger than you know.”

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