Hannah, 20, UK

 

hannah bond
TW: mention of emetophobia
“It became clear I was struggling with my mental health when my nan died back when I was 16.

We were very close as I lived with my grandparents and so her death hit me hard. It was the first time I’d lost anyone close to me and I didn’t cope well at all. To be honest, it was like my entire world came crashing down. This was when I developed anxiety and depression, although at the time it was just put down to grief. I was very low in myself and also struggled to leave my house to go to the sixth form because of my anxiety. I went to see my GP who recommended grief counselling, which I was able to receive through my school. Through this counselling I did improve in myself, I made the decision over summer to resit the year of the sixth form due to my poor attendance and for a while, things were well and I was happy in myself.
However in the summer a year later things began to develop again. It was exam season and my anxiety flared up causing some severe self-doubt and once again problems attending the sixth form. I reached out for help from a teacher at sixth form, which was a terrifying day, but arrangements were made to help me in school, as well as a recommendation being given that I go see my GP. After many appointments, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and referred for CBT. Over the summer I received the results for my second attempt at AS Levels, and they were very good! Everything was going to be okay, or so it seemed.

On my return to the sixth form in September things got bad again. After returning to my GP I was prescribed antidepressants, which I still continue to take now. Due to the side effects, I had to take a week off the sixth form, however, over that week my anxiety developed and I did not want to return. As someone who struggles to talk about how they’re feeling, I ended up writing a letter to my mum and auntie explaining how I felt. This was one of the scariest things I’ve done, but it really helped as after that plans were made. After a meeting at the sixth form, it was decided that I’d study just two of my three subjects until I was ready to do the third and that I would be there to simply aim for E grades, with university out of the question. For someone who had straight A and A* grades at GCSE and had previously been seen as having ‘Oxbridge potential, all-round ’ this was hard for me to accept, but also very much necessary.

Alongside all this, I also developed a severe fear of being sick. This led to an unhealthy relationship with food as even small amounts would make me feel sick, and then I’d stop eating. I lost a lot of weight, to the point that it was obvious to people but the stress and anxiety and depression, meant that I could not stop feeling sick and consequently, continued not to eat.
However, the CBT and medication worked. I improved significantly with my mood, we all-around well-being. I even made a very last-minute decision to apply to university in December that year, putting together my university application in one night. I received 5 offers, including an unconditional from my top choice, which naturally I accepted. I finished my A Levels with fair grades, I was happy and healthy and ready to start my new adventure at the university.
Moving away to the university last September was harder than I ever imagined it would be. I was away from everyone and everything I knew, leaving my support system and the comforts of home behind. I really struggled and relapsed. My anxiety, depression and issues with food developed again and I was struggling to attend university. However, I reached out and got help. I went to see my new GP, found out about and referred myself to the therapy services in my new area, and also had contact with the well-being team at my university.
Upon my most recent assessment, I have been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder with social anxiety traits, clinical depression, and emetophobia (phobia of vomit) and a resulting EDNOS and once again referred for CBT. I learnt that not all therapists take the same approach for CBT, with my new therapist in my university city focusing a lot more on mindfulness which is something that seems to be working for me. I highly recommend looking into it.
My first year of university, as a result, has been hard. I spent a lot of the year questioning whether I should drop out, but I stuck with it and have recently received my much higher than expected results, giving me much more hope.
Right now I am in recovery, although I have recently had a big setback with my weight. The mindfulness is helping though and I’ve also recently started a mental health blog which is helping me express myself through the journey. There is still a long way to go, I still struggle a lot, but I’m fighting and I’m surviving!”

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And two upcoming events in November, in Birmingham, UK: Futurize- Future of Learning and AddVentureMind Weekend – Stand up to Mental Health Stigma.

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