My History With Mental Illness

mental illness, teenage mental illness, teenage years, secondary school, this stuff is golden, mental health,

As soon as secondary school started everything changed.

In primary school everything was relatively simple – sure there were the beginnings of popular groups as well as some school bullies, but it was relatively easy to make friends and I never worried about who I was going to sit with at lunch or play with at break time.I managed to get into the very popular all girls’ school after some persuasion from my primary school teacher, where I’d be going to the same school as all of my friends. I was excited, even though we had ugly as hell brown uniforms that consisted of brown blazers, brown and white striped shirts, and to-your-ankle brown skirts.

Secondary school started and it was exhausting and scary. The timetable felt really long, the school had too many staircases, and there were suddenly 150 girls the same age as me.

The one thing I didn’t expect was my friends making new friends without me. Our little group of primary school kids started to dissolve as each girl made new friends and started creating their own friendship groups. Needless to say, I was trying to cling on to my old friends as much as possible, which of course, made me become less fun and less cool to hang out with which consequently made me a lot less popular.

this stuff is golden, anxiety, depression, mental health, bullying, teen years, being a teenager, single sex school, high school, secondary school experiences, friendship, bullying,

I started to feel depressed, drawing my own gravestone within my notebooks and wishing I was dead so that I didn’t have to go to school anymore. I was so utterly heartbroken by my very best friend hanging out with other people instead of me, that one moment before woodwork class began I burst into tears, begging her to still be my friend.

As you can probably guess, this sort of behaviour only worsened the situation. I started spending most of my lunch breaks sitting on a computer in the library, trying to hide from old friends so that they wouldn’t realise how much of a loner I had become.

What I hadn’t realised quite yet was that a lot of the girls had decided to start becoming women overnight. They were more interested in make-up, boys, fashion and being a teenager. I was still enjoying video games, drawing, making up stories and being a kid. All my primary school chums had started growing up without me.

One day in June at the end of a very boring and very humid IT class, my stomach was cramping so horribly I thought I was dying. I clutched my belly and was extremely grateful that my mum was picking me up that day, instead of having to walk the 45 minute journey home.

Turned out I was having my first period, which didn’t feel very grown-up or lady-like as I had imagined. The cramps were horrible (and still are). I had a day off school out of the kindness of my mum’s heart.

Not being at school was great. No reminders of broken friendships, no busy corridors between classes, no worrying about who to sit next to. I got to spend the day with my nan – our regular babysitter – and all we did was watch Audrey Hepburn movies (skipping any songs because my nan hates musicals but loves Audrey).

Then the weekend happened and Monday loomed closer. I did not want to go back to school.

So I was ‘ill’ again. Same old tummy ache. Same day of movies and day-time TV.

Then I was ‘ill’ again. And again. And again. I faked being ill for so long that I didn’t go back to school until September. Thankfully because it was just Year 7, I didn’t miss anything very important.

this stuff is golden, anxiety, depression, mental health, bullying, teen years, being a teenager, single sex school, high school, secondary school experiences, friendship, bullying,

I begrudgingly went back to school for Year 8, trying to tell myself that I can and will make friends this year. Thankfully I did manage to make a new best friend, as well as become friends with a group of popular girls, which unfortunately turned into a not so great experience that you can read aboutย here.

Year 8 was also a disaster because I began to cut myself. I’m not sure why I did it to begin with, but I do remember that when people in my class started noticing me because they wanted to see the cuts on my legs, it felt good. As terrible as that is, I started cutting myself more to keep getting the attention from all of my classmates.

I remember cutting my calf with a razor over the bathtub whilst my family were downstairs watching TV. I remember it bleeding more than I expected and almost crying for help. I remember my mum getting angry with me when she saw the wound on my leg a few days later.

I didn’t cut myself for very long. After cutting my leg a few times I started hurting the back of my hand, rubbing the skin off with my knuckle until it bled. The wound was horrible. Mum was upset withย me for that one. I don’t blame her for her reaction – she simply didn’t know what to do to help me.

One time I recall telling her that I thought I needed to talk to somebody, like a therapist. She unfortunately brushed it off. I now think that seeing somebody would have been a great help to me, as my teen years were full of depression, anxiety and poor self-worth, but again, I don’t feel any anger or blame towards my mum. She had her hands full with my (then) problematic older brother, my angry and miserable father, and my two younger brothers, as well as a fairly stressful job. I don’t think she had ever had to deal with mental illness before, and I can imagine that as a mother, having your child actually need to talk to a therapist may feel like a somewhat failure on her part, even though it really, really wouldn’t have been.

mental illness, teenage mental illness, teenage years, secondary school, this stuff is golden, mental health,

So why have I told you this story?

Because when visiting the doctors a few days ago, she asked me whether I had had any previous mental health issues. I was incredibly anxious about just going to see her, and so during this appointment my mind went a bit blank, even though I knew I had had body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) as a teenager. Later on that day I thought about my early times at secondary school – how I had had similar thoughts to those I had during my depression over the last year. Maybe I had been depressed before. Maybe it has never truly left. I don’t know.

It’s sad to think of an 11/12 year old girl in such a terrible place emotionally. I know I’ve never been the best at making friends but, it’s incredible how loneliness can affect your state of mind and your self-worth, even at such a young age.

At the moment I regularly feel like I am not worthy of seeing anybody. I cancel friends coming to visit, I get stressed out before going to appointments – heck, I’m even a bit apprehensive about visiting my family next week.

I wanted to tell this story because I wanted to tell you all these key things, which are also things that I need to tell myself:

  • You’re worth it.
  • You deserve the help you need.
  • There are people out there just like you.
  • You’re not alone.
  • It’s okay to feel how you feel.
  • Hurting yourself won’t fix anything.
  • There are people who love you.
  • You are the sunshine to somebody’s day.

I hope that you lovelies aren’t sobbing buckets over this post (like I am). I hope I’ve made you feel less alone in how you are feeling and how you are thinking. I also hope that this story gives you some courage to seek the help you need. If you do ever need to talk, feel free to contact me at any time.

Let’s get better together shall we?

22 Comments

  • […] trying to put roots down in a new city whilst battling with inner demons (I’m looking at you, depression and anxiety). The thing I want most at the moment is a pay cheque that comes in every month without fail. I […]

  • Victoria says:

    Thank you for writing this, I had a terrible time at school (and at home with sibling bullying and depression), it kind of shocks me now that I went through all that on my own. I’ve been scared of trying therapy, but you’ve encouraged me to look into it and I’m going to make an appointment tomorrow. It feels ridiculous as an adult to say I’m frightened, but the comments on here are making me more hopeful!

    I really hope you can feel better ๐Ÿ’•

    • Lauren says:

      It’s not ridiculous to be frightened of therapy – it’s a very brave thing to do but a very good thing to do! I’m so glad that this helped you seek the help you need.
      I really hope you begin to feel better too – if you ever need anybody to talk to, please feel free to email me/contact me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for commenting!

  • Quinn says:

    I’m one of those weirdos who enjoyed secondary school. I know, I know, but it really wasn’t so bad. For me it was home that I was trying to get away from, so while you were trying to stay at home, I was dreading being picked up at the end of the school day. Apparently we’re all trying to escape some place!

    Also my cutting was different in that it was completely private. I would have what in hindsight were probably panic attacks, where my whole body would go totally numb and I would feel like I couldn’t breathe… and then I would cut into myself and I would be able to breathe again. Almost like the panic got interrupted, or my brain was distracted by this new, other sensation and so couldn’t focus on whatever was causing me such distress. I don’t know if I’m explaining it properly.

    My father did catch sight of my cuts at one point completely by accident, and he went tight-lipped and angry. I think he muttered something like “What the hell” and then never mentioned it again. I feel like our parents’ generation aren’t too comfortable with therapy or counselling or anything like that. They feel like it’s shameful.

    I definitely don’t have that attitude. As soon as I got into uni I booked myself in for the free counselling they offer and I took advantage of that (great) service until I finished. Why would I battle with my own thoughts alone when there are people who can offer me metaphorical ways to handle them better and protect myself from the worst of it?

    I’m glad you got out of that cycle. It’s brutal to be there.

    • Lauren says:

      Wow, that experience with cutting sounds really intense and awful, so glad that you managed to find a free and good service to help you through.
      Yeah I totally agree – I think our parents’ generation were taught to just grin and bare it, or moan and bare it, rather than actually explore how they felt and seek help.
      Thank you so much for sharing all that!

  • […] know how important it has been for me to talk about my mental health, and how my articles have helped some of you lovely readers feel less alone in how you are feeling […]

  • My gosh your story is so similar to mine. I’ve always struggled making friends too so that on top of being bullied a lot really affected my self-worth as a young girl. I remember I lost all sense of purpose as a middle schooler and I honestly think I may have been suffering from depression at that point. Those were really dark days but things got better when I got to high school. I made some real, supportive friends and I learned so much about myself, but then I started self-harming. I didn’t completely love myself back then, I couldn’t deal with making mistakes. I had to see a therapist for help but I learned so much and I’ve only been getting stronger since. ๐Ÿ™‚ All those lessons you learned I’ve learned too and I’m so glad you shared this. You have a lot of courage girlie.

    • Lauren says:

      Oh wow, I’m sorry to hear that you went through similar things. Glad that you are feeling better and thank you so much for the comment/support!

  • This is a terribly sad but also a hopeful and lovely post. I’m sure it will help lots of people in need. Well done!

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you Matthew, that’s a lovely thing to say! I’m really grateful for how much support I’ve had for this post!

  • Lisa says:

    It’s brave of you to share your story and I admire that. I’m sorry that school was such a bad time for you, I actually remember feeling very similar when I started secondary school. In fact, I can relate to much of what you’ve said. Much like you, I thought my mental health problems began more recently, but when I look back I realise that the low self-esteem has been there for a long time. It’s funny how when we look back at things, they seem so much clearer than they did at the time. Anyway, thank you for sharing this. Take care!

    Lisa ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

    • Lauren says:

      That’s so true. I think depression is a particularly hard one to self-diagnose, because you are either trying to hide it from yourself or the world, or you think you’re just being a “drama queen” and are just saying that to feel even more sorry for yourself.
      Thank you so much for commenting, means a lot – especially with this sort of blog post!

  • Tara Curtis says:

    You know, not a lot of people in your situation can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a game changer that you can see these positives that you listed at the end of your post. These are the things that will help you pull through during your hardest moments. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. You do deserve the help that you want, or the help that you may be too afraid to receive. You do deserve to know that you are worth it, you will make a difference in struggling lives, if you allow yourself to see the light in you.

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you, that really means a lot!
      I just hope others read this too and feel that they deserve the help they need without feeling too embarrassed/scared to reach out for it.

  • Gloria says:

    It’s brave of you to share Lauren and sorry you felt so miserable at school. I’m sure what you’re feeling now is the leftovers of that time and it can be tackled with EFT tapping (we can do some over skype or when I next see you). It’s the best thing I’ve found for clearing out old, stuck feelings.
    I went to a primary school with only 25 pupils in total. It was a lovely, little village school and we were all friends together, primary 1 up to primary 7. Then the day came when I had to go to high school, with hundreds of pupils and my best friend (the only other girl in my year) left to go to a different school. I remember the first day, standing against a wall at break, too scared to move and no-one spoke to me. I eventually made other acquaintances, although never really had close friends at high school and didn’t enjoy school much. I think school can be tough, especially for sensitive individuals. Over the years I’ve come to realise that sensitivity is a gift and makes you much more aware of other people’s feelings and more aware of everything actually. How much better to be sensitive than to be insensitive? We don’t warm to insensitive people right? Through EFT tapping I’ve discovered that it’s okay to be who we are and it’s amazing what we survive. We can not only survive, we can thrive. There is so much understanding and help available now, than there used to be and much of it free. Look on You Tube for EFT as there are videos you can tap along to. Look up Mercola, Brad Yates, Pamela Bruner and Margaret Lynch (my mentors). Hope this helps xx

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you, I will look that up. I am on my GP’s waiting list for some CBT therapy, which I think will help!
      But yes that’s true – it’s much better to be sensitive because you probably take more from experiences than less sensitive people. x

  • Marta says:

    Awe, this is such an amazing post. Cuddos to you for being so brave and sharing your story! You’ll always have your Twitter friends now as well ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you! And yes! The awesome people (like you) that I have met on Twitter this year are very much appreciated! Am very grateful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Freya Creech says:

    Such an emotional post – but so important to write about, thank you so much for sharing.
    Freya – freyasnook.blogspot.com

    • Lauren says:

      Thank you for commenting! Glad that you liked it. I honestly wasn’t even expecting it to get that emotional when I started writing!

  • WhatLydDid says:

    I teared up at this, too! I’m so proud of you for putting your story out there, I’m proud of you for stopping cutting, and I’m proud of you for speaking up to your mum.

    So much of what I read mirrored my own story. I wish we went to the same school so we could have helped each other! But we can help each other now. High school ruined my past, but I’m determined to shape my own future.

    • Lauren says:

      I guess secondary school just doesn’t sit well for the most of us – I find it completely bizarre when somebody says that they enjoyed secondary school!
      Am glad and sad that we have these things in common. Yes let’s definitely shape our own futures and only use our bad experiences to build something brilliant <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: