I’ve had mental health issues for as long as I can remember. In year 6, I thought my peers had implanted things in my head to read my thoughts and dissociation was something I was good friends with- after all, I had sat in the bathroom masking my sobs with the bath taps while I wondered why I was me as my body felt a different being to my soul from very early in primary school.
However, I kept this all to myself, I knew it wasn’t normal and truly believed that if I told someone about the differences in my thought patterns I would be abandoned by my parents; an issue that stemmed from my adoption and the teaching there is no love like a mother’s. As my young mind couldn’t comprehend that, that love was the reason I was put up for adoption.
In my teens I was admitted to hospital for almost a year, something neither my doctors, parents or myself are ever sure helped me or not, but it did keep me safe.
Early in my twenties I had started to pull my life together, after a spate of abusive relationships I had my own flat, just me and my dog and I had started Open University studying criminology and psychology and I was working as a volunteer at the local Wildlife Trust both as a youth ranger and helping with school visits. I felt like while my life isn’t what I had always dreamed off, I was starting in the right direction.
Then I got swine flu, I’m not one to get flu unless a nasty strain is around and then it’s like I have a big beacon on my head saying yes I must become ill with you! My swine flu gave me a kick from the word go, I should have been going on holiday with my birth mother but as the doctors confirmed it was swine flu I, of course, couldn’t fly. It would only get worse from there. I found it hard to regain energy and my pain levels were high. This meant I couldn’t carry on at the Wildlife Trust, my brain became overly foggy and my studies were taken away as I couldn’t concentrate.
During this period before it got too bad I did manage to pass my driving test and met my other half, but with the loss of so much that I had held onto as normal one again I fell into depression. When I was finally diagnosed as having Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) and Fibromyalgia, while glad to have a reason, I also gave up on life. After all, what was the point if it was just one thing after another?
After a while of having to look after me daily while working, my partner had had enough and told me to sort things out or he would have to leave. I think when I told him my idea of sorting myself out was to set up a blog he thought I was probably a little crazy. However, neither of us would expect how that one decision, seven years ago would come to change both of our lives.
Of course, I’m not here to tell you blogging is a cure, that would be silly. I still suffer with my mental health, I still have high pain levels and I still suffer from calling red, blue. However, for the first time since I was in my teens, I began to earn my own money. Yes, last April I took the step to come off ESA after 14 years on benefits and live on the money I am able to create from my blog, and it has been the best confidence boost for me. I feel like I am earning my own way, I am making a difference in some small way, hopefully by even just telling this story.
I guess what I want you to know is that poor mental and physical health doesn’t always have to be the end, sometimes just taking what could be a silly step can make all the difference. It could change your life like it has mine. Perhaps in a few years’ time, I will be able to read your story, of how “insert whatever action” helped you.