I’m not an advocate for mental illness. I don’t have all the answers to every question. However, what I do know is that my experience is not isolated. It’s not something that others haven’t gone through or are still going through. I’m not here to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. I’m only here to share my story with people that will listen.
When I was growing up, mental health was not the topic of conversation. I didn’t really learn about it until I was diagnosed. It’s something that at first glance I was ignorant to. It was almost as if I was being selfish, towards myself. Denial was my first instinct. This attitude only increased the hold it had on my life. My soul was consumed with grief as though I was mourning for something that was never there.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been happy. For longer than a split second, a small moment, then the sadness I felt returned to me. I cannot think of a period in life where I was generally glad to be alive. Glad to be on earth, appreciative of another day. Often I hoped that I would not wake up in the morning. Hoped that the world would swallow me into a black hole. Consume me deep enough that I would no longer feel anything; fear, loneliness, shame, anger, disappointment. The list is endless.
What would hurt the most, at times, was the thought that no one could ever understand me and my emotions. I felt alone even in a house full of people. I felt ignored, even with all eyes on me. I felt pain, even with no wounds. Living was so hard to do. Choosing life was almost like choosing death.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder on the 22nd of August 2013 at 1:39 pm. Although before this, I had attempted suicide countless times. Self-harmed, substance misuse, alcoholism. Abused my body sexually. Doctors shoved anti-depressants down my throat. Citalopram, lorazepam, diazepam, you name it. Counselling, void, irrelevant, ineffective. Ignorance is bliss or so they say. In regards to this, it was surely unblissful.
Admitting there was a problem was the first step. All I could hear was my mother’s voice urging me to ‘stop doing this, stop hurting yourself, and speak to someone!’ Do they know how hard it is to speak? Do they understand what comes next? The stereotypes, the stigma, the sympathy, the looks, the gossip. It’s not that fucking easy! To just speak to someone, to just stop.
But…I found the strength to walk into A & E at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and ask for help. I said ‘I feel extremely suicidal, I’ve wanted to kill myself every day since I can remember and I don’t know how to make it stop.’
And that was the first step. The first step and the beginning.