“I currently live in Australia, I used to live in the UK and from the age of 8 I suffered with anxiety. I spent a lot of my time with nausea and constant stress of my future, worrying about worrying and everything in between. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep as it was only the way my mind would eventually stop ticking into overdrive. I was constantly tired and fed up with life – enter depression at age 11. However, when I arrived at school, I always arrived with a smile strapped to my face. At school I was the girl I wish I was, I behaved as I thought I should behave but inside, I was very broken and ridden with sadness.
I would come home, and my smile would disappear as I tried to fight with my mind about its constant rattling. I tried to clench my stomach, so the butterflies and constant nausea would go away- but nothing would work. I started child therapy, where I would sit in silence, and just stare back at the face smiling back at me. I didn’t know how to put into words the hurt I was feeling. I didn’t know if this lady would understand or if she would think I was crazy. So, I sat there looking at my sweaty hands, head down, crying. After 4 years of therapy, this lady taught me how to use my words and write them down. She was my saviour. It gave me such comfort to know it was no longer in my head to hurt me, but now on paper, for me to visualise and make sense of. I continued to write, where to this day I now write daily, have my own website and often write for mental health websites such as this to share my journey. It has been my biggest healing.
When I was 18 I lost my cousin to suicide and my world crumbled even more. I was left questioning life and what could make it so awful that a person didn’t want to be here anymore. I questioned whether I still wanted to be here and if all this struggle and darkness would ever end in light. Losing my cousin was perhaps the breaking of me and my depression grew deeper and my fears of life became stronger.
It was at the age of 20, my depression and anxiety spiraled out of control, I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression and found myself on medication, taking 4 pills a day to get me out of bed to Uni to study. Those 3 years on medication were in fact a surreal blur to me now. I was a robot and a slave to my mind – soul destroying. The medication left me feeling weak, out of control and resulted in me being bed ridden for a week because sitting up was even too hard. So, I lay there, uncontrollably crying, for what I didn’t know, but my soul needed to shed those tears. I begged the doctor that I could no longer complete my course of those antidepressants and wanted to be taken off it and put on a different one. This gave me the energy to study and eventually graduate with a second level with honours in Psychology. I still can’t believe I did it.
Uni finished and the struggles of moving home made my anxiety unbearable – I would suffer with sleep paralysis, panic attacks and the inability to eat regular food. I ended up living off plain rice and smoothies, as its all my body would allow me to digest. It was at this point I thought, I couldn’t do this anymore. I could either give up and be completely consumed by my mind and to live in this world of pretense I had been living in for so long. It’s often said once you tell a lie so much you end up believing it – my whole life was a lie, I was a lie, and I made people so easily believe I was happy, that I nearly fooled myself. So, I packed my bags and moved here, to Australia, where no one knew me. I stepped off that plane and promised to come here as me, and if that meant I didn’t always smile, it was okay. If that meant I couldn’t get out of bed, it was okay. If that meant I didn’t have all the friends I had at home, it was okay. I also made one more promise, the biggest one, to live a life free of medication and to find other ways to heal my soul and that is what I’ve done.
My journey in Australia these last 3 years has been a living oxymoron. It has been so hard, but so beautiful. I have ripped off all my layers and gone straight to my core to find a way to uncover my true being. I have accepted that mental illness will always be a part of me, but it is easier to work with my mind than against it. I am trying to learn stillness of the mind through meditation and I write regularly to empty the clutter in my mind that anxiety sometimes tries to fill. I spend lots of time reading self-help books (‘Power of Now’ being the main one) and reading up on other experiences to remember I am not alone and all our journeys of recovery are different, but equally amazing. I do things that bring me happiness (however small) and only allow people in my life that allow me to grow; this all contributes to a positive lifestyle, which I work hard to succeed at.”
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