Friday, 22 July 2016

Embracing my mental illness.





The bell rung at 3:30, I'd grab my bag and wave goodbye to my classmates, thankful the day at school was over. I skipped home from school, with my wonky pigtails and baggy pinafore dress, jumping over each crack in the pavement. One crack, two crack, three crack, four. It was a fun game I liked to play on my journeys to and from school. But this game had a dangerous twist. If I didn't get to the lampost at the end of the street, and tap it twice, within five seconds, then I'd die...right??

Wrong. Although my 10 year old self didn't know this was the case.

I eventually grew out of these rituals. I could actually walk home without people wondering who that scruffy, wide eyed school girl was who pelted her way down the street.

However recently, things started to get weird again. So here we are, that naive, confused and innocent young girl is before you now, ten years on...embracing my mental illness.

There's still often such a stigma around mentally ill people. I know a lot of people (including myself) struggle admitting that we might not be as mentally healthy as people might think we are. But why? Why can't we shout it out to the world?! I know with myself, I'm frightened that people think I'm seeking for attention. Apart from close family, friends and my boyfriend, not many people know. But telling people about mental health should be as normal as telling someone you have the flu. So that's what I'm doing today, I'm shouting it out to the world from the top of my lungs. I should be proud of every single part of me, because if I didn't have struggles with mental health, I wouldn't be me. And I'm god damn fabulous, so not being me would be highly disappointing.  

Here is a picture of me being fabulous.



So this is my story. (God, so dramatic Claire, as always.) *rolls eyes*
I can't pin point the moment where it started. It had been going on for a while. But at the age of 19, intrusive thoughts were controlling my life. Awful thoughts. Anxieties. Obsessions. Jealousy. Things that are actually quite hard to write about. It often makes me into a vile person to be around. I'm usually a  nice person to be around (I hope?!) but when my mental illness takes over, within a heartbeat my personality changes completely.  So after numerous chats with my sister and boyfriend, I finally plucked up the courage to visit my doctor. Within filling in a questionnaire, having a long chat with the doctor about my feelings *bleugh* I was diagnosed with anxiety, OCD and mild depression. I mean, wow. That was a lot to take in within such a short space of time. I'd walked into the room feeling like my normal self, and I walked out with a diagnosis, some medication and a phone number for a recommended therapist. I wanted to projectile vomit across my doctors face. But I didn't, because he's a pleasant man and he was wearing a very smart shirt at the time. 

But let me tell you a few facts about me.
  • I am extremely messy. If you walked into my bedroom you'd think you had stepped into the "out of bounds cave" of a thirteen year old boy.
  • I don't like to clean. In fact, I hate it. Those week old dominos pizza boxes can wait in my kitchen for a few more days thankyou very much. 
  • I don't constantly wash my hands.
  • I have never appeared, and never will appear, on the program "Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners."
So if all of those facts are true, then how can I have OCD? Good question.
A lot of people don't know that there are a LOT of different types of OCD. Pure OCD, Relationship OCD, Intrusive thoughts, Checking and so on.


"Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. "

Basically, to sum it all up, it sucks. Nearly every day I think I'm going to die. Or I need to plan every single minute detail to a day out. If someone taps my face, I need to tap the other side so it feels even. I am obsessed.

Compulsive thoughts can be as follows:
What if this washing line falls on me and wraps itself around my neck until I can't breathe?
What if I drown in this shower and nobody finds me for weeks?
The guy behind me is going to shoot me.
I have a driving lesson tomorrow, I'm going to crash.
My friends hate me, my boyfriend hates me, everyone hates me.
I'm holding this baby too tightly, am I going to kill it?
What if I stab myself whilst chopping these carrots?
What if I accidentally push this person onto the road and they get run over?

Ha. So irrational right? When I think about all of the thoughts I have, it makes me laugh. But at the time, it's all you can think about. The thoughts run around and push against your mind until the words become engraved into your brain. And because of this, you have compulsions that you need to follow out:
Hang the washing up as quickly as possible.
Get out the shower, now. And wipe your feet twice as you do so.
Do not turn around and look at the man, if you do, he will shoot you.
Cancel your driving lesson. Quick.
Ask your boyfriend for reassurance. Ask him again. Ask one more time. 
Blink ten times and the baby will be fine.
Hide the knife. Hide it in a place you won't remember.

Going through that, mixed with my anxiety disorder, on a daily basis is pretty exhausting.

This video called "This is what it's like to be in my mind for 3 minutes" explains it better than I ever could. It's so worth the watch.

 I'm so incredibly lucky to have supportive, open minded and understanding people that surround me in my life. OCD and anxieties want to be heard. So I'm giving them exactly what they want, I'm hearing what they're saying, I'm making them known, I'm wrapping my arms around them, but I won't let them control me. I'm recognizing that they are intrusive thoughts that ARE NOT REAL. 

I just wanted to write this post to show anyone else suffering with mental health that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Don't be embarrassed, ashamed or scared about admitting it. Telling people might be the best thing that you ever did. My friends are the most accepting and loving girls I know, but I was still reluctant to tell them. But when I did, I was swarmed with support and it makes it a whole lot better. Support from your loved ones is the equivalent of getting handed a freshly made hot chocolate, with extra whipped cream and a flake (alongside a cuddle of course). Pretty god damn amazing huh. (Sorry friends, I just compared you to a hot chocolate.)

I hope in writing and sharing this post with you all (which is a very hard thing for me to do), that other people feel comfortable in doing the same. It's not something to be ashamed about. That's how your mental illness wants you to feel, so prove it wrong!
 Let's raise awareness and remove stigma together - it's so so so important!

All my love,

Claire




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22 comments

  1. You are so brace and I am so super proud of you, for one, writing about this so that others who may suffer with it can gain some understanding and not feel alone, and two, for you understanding what you suffer with and still trying to live life!

    This post was beautifully written!

    Ana
    www.labellavitaxo.com

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    1. Aww thankyou so much lovely, this comment really did mean a lot. <3 xx

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  2. You're so strong for writing about you Mental health and I love your honesty! So many more posts like this are needed it's the best way to removes stigma. My mental health has not always been particularly great and I've always struggled with depressioned!

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    1. awww thankyou so much lovely. I hope that this has encouraged people to write some themselves! Aw really? I'm always here for a chat sweet. Thankyou for your comment xx

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  3. I love this. I don't suffer from any MH issues myself but my boyfriend has anxiety and there's a long history of depression in my family. I seriously commend you for trying to raise awareness, it can't be an easy thing to do x

    Penchantsandprejudice.wordpress.com

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    1. Thankyou so much for your comment! Although it's hard having a mental illness it's also incredibley hard being around someone who has one so you should be proud of yourself! because I know it can't always be easy <3 I always thank my boyfriend for sticking by me so I bet your boyfriend is super thankful too xx

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  4. This is a truly wonderful post. You are so, so incredibly brave. I've *suffered* (kicked-ass) with anxiety for years, but have never received a diagnosis. I think mental health is definitely something that needs to be more widely acknowledged.

    It's surprising that I actually knew very little about OCD until I read Am I Normal Yet? By Holly Bourne - so educational!

    Stay strong, honey. You are not your condition. It cannot control you. ♥

    Vee // veeosullivan.co.uk

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  5. Thankyou so so much for your comment! I'm so glad you're beating / have beaten anxiety! I seriously hope I get to that point too. I've never actually read that, so I'll look into it. Thanks again for your comment, in means a lot <3 xx

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  6. Claire this was such a brave post! You dealt with a really tricky subject matter with humour and courage, and you deserve a really big pat on the back for that! It sounds like you're really trying hard to improve your mental health, and I really hope that blogging about it can bring you some comfort and the knowledge that you're not alone! Sending you a huge hug ❤️❤️❤️

    Abbey ✨ www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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    1. Aw Abbey, you always leave the greatest comments and I really do appreciate them! <3 thankyou so much sweetie! xxxx

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  7. You're so lucky that your friends are so accepting and supportive! I think having supportive family and friends makes all the difference. As someone who suffers from anxiety and intrusive anxious thoughts I really found this comforting to read. Even though I know I'm not alone in all of this it's nice to be reminded of that sometimes!

    www.thesundaymode.com

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    1. I am very lucky indeed. <3 thankyou for your comment! yesss I feel exactly the same, a little reminder now and again makes a big different :) I'm glad it was comforting to read for you xx

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  8. You are an extremely brave person. And it's good to know you get so much support from friends and family. I love how bravely you have written this post and explained everything. You are an absolutely lovely person. :) proud of you :)

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    1. Aw this is such a lovely comment! :) <3 Thankyou so much! That's so kind of you xxxx

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    2. This is such an amazing post! As someone who suffers with OCD I know extactly how you feel! I do obsessively wash my hands but I do other things as well! Thank you for spreading awareness of what OCD really is instead of what people think it is because of the media coverage. You are brave and very strong. Xx

      I have lots of respect for you to write this post X

      Thrifty vintage fashion

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    3. Thankyou so much! It must be incredibly hard having that side of OCD as well as others :( So I admire you! Thanks again for your comment, it means everything and so nice to speak to another sufferer! Lots of love xx

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  9. I only began talking to you yesterday because of your Moon Chat but I can honestly say you are such a brave person for writing this and showing who you are, I admire that so much. As someone who has really bad anxiety, I am glad to know I aren't the only one as I feel like that sometime, even though I know I am not! You have actually inspired me to write about my experiences now! Embrace every party of you because you are rocking it Claire! xx

    http://ayranarose.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thankyou so much for your comment lovely. Ah wow, I'm so glad I have inspired you to do the same - that would be amazing if you did! I'd love to have a read :) Thanks again for commenting, xx

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  10. I admire your bravery in writing this post! It was really well written, and I think mental health is definitely something that needs to be spoken about more often! Such an inspiring and lovely post :)

    studentwandering.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thankyou! That's so nice to hear. Thanks for taking the time to comment :) xx

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  11. I always commend people who post openly about their mental health, so well done you and you should feel super proud of yourself for posting this! I'm really glad you went to the doctor to seek help with your struggles and I hope all of us who may or may not suffer can remove the stigma associated with mental health. I hope one day I'll be able to publish a post like this on my blog talking about my own mental health, but I just can't find the words to even explain how I feel half the time. But you've literally done it so well :)xx

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thankyou very much! <3 It would be great if you one day could post one, I'll definitely keep an eye out in the future! It's so hard to explain feelings isn't it?! Thanks again for your comment lovely xx

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