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Mental Health and Me – A personal perspective by Steph

Monday 29 January 2018

Mental Health and Me

By Steph

Growing up wasn’t easy for me, my mother battled various mental illnesses including manic depression, anxiety, ptsd and others, she didn’t have a lot of support available and evidently had a breakdown.

This led to me and my four siblings going into foster care. That was the most scary experience of my life, we where all divided, I didn’t have my family to hold my hand and help when I got scared of the dark, when I had bad dreams, what was I going to do? Would my mom get better? No six year old should ever ask these questions, but here I was asking them, not understanding anything going on. I missed my mom, I cried nightly, acted up, my school work became effected, I got in trouble for the littlest things.

Roughly when I was ten, I didn’t feel any emotions, I felt lost, who was I? Does anybody even care about me was the question running through my mind. When can I go home? My foster parents didn’t understand, social workers thought I was “a bad child” again nobody cared so why should I?

When I was 12 I started having seizures again, why now? Haven’t I been through enough already? So we began all the tests that where done years ago and I was diagnosed epileptic again, then began the medication, if I wasn’t down then I certainly hated myself more. I didn’t sleep, eat and I was excluded from school 6 times for “fighting”. Aren’t I fun? Ugh I hate this life.
It got to my 13th birthday and my mom was worried I wasn’t getting any better mentally, I had no support remember nobody understood. I was a teenager apparently mood swings are normal? What does normal mean? So anyway back to my story.

Eventually I did go home, but I wasn’t me anymore, I hated myself, I didn’t want to be on this earth any longer, aged 13 my mom was worried because I had attempted harming myself, she blamed herself, was her mental health to blame? Did I get this from her? We didn’t know.

It got to my 13th birthday and my mom was worried I wasn’t getting any better mentally, I had no support remember nobody understood. I was a teenager apparently mood swings are normal? What does normal mean? So anyway…

We made a doctors appointment and my gp (general practitioner) diagnosed with depression. But I didn’t agree I didn’t feel depressed I felt alone, abandoned, worthless, a burden, why do people even talk to me I’m not worth it, I was 13 where was my childhood? Is this what I had to look forward too?

I just coasted through the rest of my education, many hospital stays for my epilepsy, they mentioned the “depression” and was told it was my meds causing this Why put me on those then? I felt like I had no say in any decisions, then again what do I know I’m a kid aren’t I?

In the uk we leave school at 16, so I left school with mediocre grades, I didn’t care, so I threw myself into long term employment doing technical support in a call centre, 50 hour weeks I worked, payed all moms bills, but that was my escape, nobody knew me there I could reinvent myself couldn’t I?

Truthfully no I couldn’t because people noticed something wasn’t quite right, did they see through my mask? So I left and sunk into a deep dark place, isolated myself from the world, I didn’t care anymore. I was seventeen unemployed, what’s to live for. This was what my mind was thinking.

Now let’s fast forward to age 19, I got my very own place, “A new start for Steph,” oh how wrong was I! I met “friends” they weren’t really friends, they saw my house as a party pad. I experimented with drugs and ended up extremely suicidal, and made multiple attempts on my life.

I remember the last attempt a psychiatric nurse came in to me, brought me a coffee, and spoke to me like I mattered, we spoke for what seemed like hours it was nice, she was nice, she got it. She didn’t judge or make fun. I wish I could remember her name though.

Together we decided to have a chat with a psychiatrist, she came in the room with me, I spoke for the first time about what went on in my head, the psychiatrist diagnosed me with :
– Chronic manic-depression
– Chronic anxiety
– Post traumatic stress disorder

And also suggested about a personality disorder but I wasn’t ready for the conversation about that.

We together decided to get me some counseling (CBT saved my life!), but this wasn’t forced on me, everything was my decision, my choice, I was taking back my life!

In 2011, I was 20 years old and bumped into an old friend who I pushed away, we began a relationship, and a few months later I found out I was pregnant, uh oh is history going to repeat its self? Will my baby be normal? Can I be a good mom? I’ve never had a mom, what do I do? In August 2012 I gave birth prematurely to my daughter who weighed 5lb 7oz, she was perfect, this was my family now, me my partner and my daughter.

It’s now 2018, I’m almost 7 years free of self harm, I’m fighting everyday to keep my head above water but with doctors support I’m doing well, I’m studying counselling and hopefully go into the mental health field. I’m not my mom!! I’ve ma

de something of my life against the odds, I’m doing okay! Wow this feels amazing.

Here are my final words:

My mother had nobody to ask for help, back then it was so different compared to now, not as many mental health facilities. I had the people round me to get better.

Is mental health inherited though? Or is it due to how things have changed the reason I’ve managed to do well? I’ll never know. Maybe you have an opinion feel free to answer that question.

Well, that’s my story, remember it’s okay to get help, and it’s okay not to be okay!

Love to you all,

– Steph
PDAN volunteer

  1. Thank u always for ur great work^^

  2. Hi am living this need to get help for my son so bad and shocked and feeling low my son is my world and no one listens to you. Have so much in written no help 3 years and as a mother it breaks my heart.

  3. Finally I’m finding out that I have so many of these symptoms. And I never knew it could be bpd. So much I’ve been reading it is like they are reading how I feel about everything. So thank all of you for sharing. Now I we I’ll seek treatment and finally have something to reference how I feel. Praying for all mental healthcare to become available for everyone who needs help..So if you want to help me pray for affordable mental health.plz more prayers will help. God bless you all for being strong BRAVE determined young people who have shown courage and light to these disorders .aen

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