At the beginning of this journey I have shared as much as I felt comfortable about my battles and personal experience with mental health difficulties. Yet as I am encouraging so many to share their stories and ignore stigma, shame, or fear of speaking out I will share with you my story in more detail.
I could go way back to my childhood and describe how I always remember finding feelings difficult to process, or describe to you how most of it is all a blur as I truly did live in my own little world (which won’t be a surprise for many who know me) so though it’s been a lifelong process, journey and battle I feel my story best starts at 23…
If I blink I can still remember it, looking in the mirror and seeing this battered bruised and swollen face, tears streaming down my face and any attempt to smile just revealed my bloody mouth and missing teeth. So much pain swelled up in my chest and my mind, surpassing any physical pain that pounded through my body after the accident. My mind spinning so fast in an attempt to process what and how this had happened, everything heightened, everything so sensitive. Just all far too much to deal with! So I flicked the switch and turned my emotions off, better not to feel, better not to think, bury, bury, and bury it.
Not long after this incident I eventually started a hospitality job of which I really enjoyed! It was an incredible distraction, so much work I had no time to think and no time to feel. Any spare time was spent partying or sleeping, so thoughts and feelings quite frankly never caught up with me! As far as I was aware even with my mediocre temporary fake front teeth, I had very little to be concerned about, maybe I was better, maybe it worked this time?
To my surprise I even met a wonderful guy called Dan who I embarked on a relationship with and as I thought I was back to being as ‘normal’ as I could be it wouldn’t be a problem! It was a true blessing and a relationship that brought me much joy amongst my pain and gave me hope. But like everything I have experienced with depression and mental health in general, is though it may hide from your view, or lay dormant for some time it always has a way of finding you and kicking you in the teeth!
It really hit me when I finally got a break and went on holiday to Rome with my friend. A trip which should have brought much excitement and joy, which in many ways it did, but there was an unaddressed sadness in me. I struggled to get out of bed, food didn’t taste as good, drink barely even excited me. I had so little in me to give, so little life, any spark in me I realised had died. Depression had arrived!
I felt its weight, I heard its condemning voices and I could see that it had taken a hold of me once again. At this point I felt sorry for my mere existence and sadly ended things with my boyfriend at the time. I mean I was a mess, self-destructive and had so little value or care for my life why put someone through that? Why put someone through dealing with me?
Entering back into my routine of ‘eat, sleep, rave, repeat’ looking at the world was odd all of a sudden… like I was an alien viewing it for the first time. I wasn’t really ‘there’ just walking through this meaningless existence as if I were invisible to others. People were becoming increasingly harder to deal with, as anything that brought up emotion now felt as though it stabbed at me on the inside! Then for the first time in years I picked up a knife, and as any addict would understand just one ‘hit’ just one ‘drink’ just one ‘cut’ is never truly enough. But I told myself I needed it, it was the only way to try to keep holding it together, I was so numb it never once hurt. Truth be told only relief flowed from me, no intention to go so deep I’d end my life, but enough to be momentarily free from the war inside of me.
Looking back to this time I could only describe myself as some sort of tornado! Even when out partying (an escape which used to bring me joy and distraction) I would break! My demons came out for everyone to see, my emotions taking over me blurring my mind, blurring my sight, filling me in every corner with pure emotion the strongest often being rage, I had lost all control…
So many people got caught up into my downfall of self-loathing and of self-harm, I mean wouldn’t they all just be better off without me here? The idea brought such peace and gradually became my solution but one of which I tried to fight against with any fragment of logic I had left.
At work I would just be daydreaming with these voices in my head planning the end, how would I do it? Who would find me? Images of everyone being happier truly tormented my mind being brain washed by this thing, these feelings, surely this was not normal?
On a night off from work I lay in my flat drinking wine on my own, as the thought of just being sat there with nothing made it hard to breathe. I finished a bottle then decided I had the balls to finally do it as I went for the paracetamol. Pill after pill I washed it down with more wine. I even got called into work to help cover dinner and by then I had become so good at putting on a brave face no one knew that I had started the countdown to the end of my life. I was just floating through the evening like a play I had to act out. I even asked for more paracetamol which I washed down with more alcohol I could find until the night was over and my parents picked me up. I confessed to my mum I had taken some pain killers not entirely sure I was honest how much I had taken but she insisted I stay at home that night, I closed my eyes hoping I’d had enough, done enough that if I were lucky I’d drift into an eternal sleep but I woke with a heartbeat so fast it pounded in my ears, I started shaking and sweating, my mind throbbing and feeling like it was full of cotton wool my mum discovering me like this didn’t let me go back to sleep and kept me awake as long as possible. I had survived, unsure of how I felt about this… but all I knew is that I had to live out the nightmare of day to day again.
Now to indulge in every night and every event would require a book! So to skip forward I had a night I will never forget, it was supposed to be me celebrating having finally handed my notice in at my current job and having landed a new one. So a night which started with joy and laughter and even though I felt that fire within I was sure I had it under control. But back at my flat a friend said one wrong thing and BANG! Rebecca had gone and in her place pure rage and all those bottled emotions came pouring out. I actually scared the majority of my friends and my flat mate at the time out of the flat as I kicked a door so hard I broke the wall and every single glass in the house I smashed, every single bottle I smashed and then slashed my skin with until I eventually went for the balcony where I climbed over the railing and had a friend hold onto me for dear life! While the neighbours must have had called the police as they came rushing in flooring a friend of mine and finding me a mess shaking and bloodied in a bedroom. I think I was even rocking back and forth at the time so a full on picture there of someone who had cracked.
I was put into the ambulance and when I was seen to I begged that I have help, I knew that I would succeed in killing myself if I didn’t get some medical attention. So I was given the decision to be sectioned or to go to a mental day care centre where I would be evaluated, prescribed medication and kept an eye on with others. Due to wanting to keep this new job I took the suggestion of the day-care centre where I was situated for 2 weeks until being released back into the wild.
Again to describe the journey after leaving this day care centre would take far too much time. But I will say at times I got worse before I got better and overall it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make… to choose to live, to try again, to challenge my condemning thoughts. I so often felt possessed, or as if another side of me lived in me, one of which I had no conscious control of. I’ve felt overwhelmed and extremely underwhelmed. I have felt everything to such a heightened extent I thought I couldn’t survive, but I did and here I am, with nearly 27 years gone by this is probably the only time in my life I can say I feel on top of my mental health instead of it on top of me.
So join me on this journey but one you can call your own as it’s worth it and because you’re worth it.