My Journey with a Mental Illness

By Jessica McVeigh

I was debating posting this for world mental health day but I didn’t. So I’m going to post it now because I feel like it’s something that I’m ready to post and I should post to show people that having problems with your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and I’m fed up hiding everything from everyone.

About a year and a half ago when I was 17, I was in a&e the night before my health and social care exam because I had burnt myself that much on my arms, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. After 5/6 hours in a&e I left with an emergency appointment at CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) that same day at 2pm. I sat my exam, had no sleep and went to my appointment. They asked me what was going on and what led me to self-harm (I’d been self-harming for about 9 months before anyone knew as well). I didn’t know.

They looked at my burns and cuts on my arms and tried to understand why but I didn’t want to engage in therapy with them. I didn’t see the point in trying to stop self-harming because I felt that worthless and hopeless. I went to appointments with them every week for 9 months and continued to say very little. I was depressed, suicidal and self-harming but as much as I didn’t engage with them, they didn’t stop trying to help me. They were always there at the other end of the phone.

I got completely behind on my coursework, I had no interest in doing the work. I didn’t go to many classes. But the teachers were supportive and helped me balance my work and make it manageable. I had so many thoughts of dropping out of school but my head of year at the time was never going to let that happen so I ended up finishing school and getting my a-levels.

Once I turned 18 I was still self-harming, my mood was unbelievably low, I didn’t want to be alive. In fact, police had been to my house searching my room, trying to take me for an assessment at the hospital because they thought I was a risk to myself but i refused.

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However, two months after I got discharged from CAMHS, I began DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) at Adult Psychological Services and I’m still there today. I went to the doctors and got prescribed anti-depressants which I take daily. I now accept that there are days when I don’t want to help myself but “when you’re trying to motivate yourself, appreciate the fact that you’re even thinking about making a change” and that definitely helped me get through. I know how to manage my emotions and urges into something more positive because it isn’t about making the emotion disappear, it’s about learning to deal with the emotion. I am a lot better than I was a year ago. I’m not self-harming and I’m not suicidal but I still need support and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I have distraction plans in place that help me and I am a lot happier today than I was a year ago.
I had the support of school teachers who were absolutely amazing, a school counsellor, the people I seen at CAMHS and Adult Psychological Services, friends and family.

I didn’t trust people very easily when I first started at CAMHS but now at adult psychological services, I have no problem talking about what I’m thinking because I realised that it’s my life and I’m in control. Someone can’t ‘fix me’, I have to help myself first and start opening up. Point is, there are people who want to help. They’re people who will do anything to see you smile again and help you feel like yourself. It’s not easy but it’s possible and I realise that now. Mental illness’ are nothing to be ashamed of.

Sure look at me now, I have an ABB in my a-levels, got the highest in my year in health and social care and I’m at university studying Psychology. If I didn’t speak up and realise that I needed to help myself, I can honestly say I probably wouldn’t be where i am today.

“It’s okay not to be okay” #breakthestigma #mentalhealthawareness

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  1. Angharad Welch 14th March 2017 at 6:45 am - Reply

    Couldn’t have said it any better myself Jessica. Stay strong 💪

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