The last couple of weeks haven't been good so i've been avoiding social media but a text yesterday from the lovely Anna reminded me that it was time to talk day which i couldn't ignore (although evidently could delay). For those of you who don't already know time to talk day is part of the time to change program, set up by Mind and rethink to promote mental health awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination. The aim is to get as many people talking as possible by taking just five minutes to have a conversation about mental health, or in the blogosphere to 'take 5 to blog.'
I've spoken quite candidly about my own experiences with mental health before now on my blog, (mostly here and here) but regardless i still wanted to participate in the take 5 to blog scheme so here goes...
My name is Charlotte.
I have experienced anxiety, depression, self harm, bulimia and PTSD. I'm also under review at the moment with the potential diagnosis of a personality disorder on the horizon.
My mental illness has affected every aspect of my life; i can't have relationships, i put myself in vulnerable situations, i ruin friendships, it can take hours to work up the courage to leave the house on my own, i have panic attacks to the point that i pass out, i constantly doubt myself and put myself down, i can go from hugely elated to hopelessly crying in the space of an hour, i spend the majority of my days in therapist offices, i can't make plans and look to the future, i can't even do normal things like go swimming or enjoy a meal with friends. Every day feels like i'm fighting with my own head, fighting thoughts, feelings and impulses that scare the hell out of me. Over the last year my mental health deteriorated to the point that i attempted suicide in November. That's how much mental illness has affected my life; it nearly took my life.
My greatest source of support has been my best friend Jordan who has always been there for me and has saved my life probably more times than he realises, he was the first person i opened up to about my problems and has never once judged me. More importantly then that though he reminds me that it's possible to be happy, he makes me laugh, he lets me be myself, heck he even puts up with the pain inducing process of taking my bog photos. To him i am just me not depression or bulimia or any other illness.
At the moment i also wouldn't be surviving without my therapists...yes plural, i know that some people struggle with getting the help that they need so i'm grateful for the position that i'm in. It's taken me years to get to this point but i finally feel like i'm getting the right help and that i'm seeing people who i can be entirely trusting of which is making a huge difference.
My hope for the future is that i can be happy, that's all i ask. I no longer say i hope to be normal because firstly what does that even mean and secondly because i've come to accept that i will always have mental health issues, i just hope that i can gain enough control over them that i can start living my life again.
So i guess that's my mental health in five bite size pieces. Reading it back it doesn't sound very inspiring, like i said i'm struggling at the moment but hopefully soon i'll gain back some of the positivity that came through in last years time to talk post. I am happy though that i pushed myself to post and also that i finally got around to taking these photos, even if they were hugely rushed, sound a little like a dating ad and include a hugely frustrating spelling mistake...let me know if you spot it (i hope it's just one) but more importantly let me know if you've taken part in take 5 to blog.