A girl with too many thoughts...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Time to Talk Day 2017!

Today is Time to Talk Day, created by the mental health charity Time To Change!

Time to Change aim to end mental health discrimination by encouraging the conversation around mental health and hopefully, ending stigma. This is something I'm obviously passionate about too, so I wanted to contribute to the day by writing a post for my blog.

Since today is centred around the topic of talking, I thought it might be useful to speak about how I came to talk openly about my mental health difficulties - both with those close to me, but also on my blog and on social media.

Understandably, talking about our mental health can be extremely difficult and many people are therefore reluctant to do so. However, I personally believe the more we open up about our experiences, the easier it becomes for ourselves and others to do the same. Talking is essential in ensuring sufferers receive the support they need.

Firstly, a bit of background.

I think I've displayed symptoms of anxiety throughout all of my childhood. I would worry excessively about people breaking in, to the point where I was afraid to sleep alone. I would sit on top of the stairs in the middle of the night watching the front door, just to ensure there was definitely nobody coming through it.

It's safe to say I was an anxious child, but only now do I realise I was displaying symptoms of a disorder.

At age thirteen, I developed symptoms of OCD. I would repeatedly experience intrusive thoughts about death, violence, murder. I started carrying out compulsions to control the thoughts. Tapping my foot on each corner of the kitchen every time I went in there for something. Flicking the light switch on and off until it felt 'right'. Endless rituals that took up a lot more of my day than I even realised.

It was in my teens that I started to suspect maybe there was something more going on. Surely, it's not 'normal' to think that if you don't step over the door frame in a certain way, then you are going to be the victim of a horrific crime. Surely, everybody else my age doesn't constantly argue with themselves in their own head - almost like there exists an evil, manipulative person who torments you with your greatest fears.

I was too embarrassed to reveal to anybody the hell that was unfolding in my mind. I kept it to myself for years, carefully covering up each compulsion so that others wouldn't notice them. I was ashamed. I was afraid. I didn't understand what was happening to me and I thought I was the only one experiencing this. If was terrified that if I told anybody, they would think I was crazy.

It wasn't until I was in sixth form that I couldn't hide it any longer. My symptoms exploded in ways I couldn't have imagined and I lost all ability to function. I became withdrawn from friends and at seventeen, was completely dependent on my Mum to carry out even the most basic tasks. I was marched to the doctor where I was referred to CAMHS to undergo CBT.

Ever since then, I've been pretty open about my mental health difficulties. I'm lucky in that my Mum has always been supportive and understanding. I can be honest with her about whatever I'm going through with the knowledge that she'll always be there for me. For that, I really do owe her everything.

If you are going through a difficult time right now, please tell somebody. You don't have to suffer in silence and you are never alone - there will always be somebody who listens. There will always be somebody who cares.
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