"Be kind to others as not every struggle is visible": Harriet's story
Harriet’s battle with depression, anxiety and irrational thoughts left her feeling suicidal, but talking to family, friends and her therapist has helped her gain the strength to raise awareness about serious mental health issues.
My first experience of anxiety wasn’t until I started my second year at sixth form and wow did it hit me hard! It’s like I woke up one day and my body and mind just stopped working like they always had. I’ve always worked hard at school to achieve good grades and never really let the pressure of exams get to me, but for some reason something triggered what can only be described as my ‘mental health rollercoaster’. I suddenly felt this intense pressure of having to know what I wanted to do with my life, to have to achieve the-best grades and not to let my family down.
Luckily I have the most supportive mum, family and best friends who helped me get through this period. My mum came with me to the doctors, she found me a therapist and was always there to talk to. I will forever be grateful for my mum. She has been my rock.
A few years passed and I was learning how to control my anxious thoughts, but over the last couple of years I have also faced a battle against depression and irrational thoughts.
I started to wake up every morning, with this intense panic spreading all the way across my body. I would go to sleep and dread the moment I’d wake up knowing I’d have to face another day. I no longer looked forward to anything, the idea of my future would scare me. The only thought in my head was trying to get through the day so that I could go to sleep again.
I no longer looked forward to anything, the idea of my future would scare me.
This is when intrusive and irrational thoughts began to consume my brain. I can honestly say I have never felt so scared. It’s hard to explain the thoughts I had as there were so many, and they were about so many different things. My whole day would be spent thinking I had upset everyone, that something really bad was going to happen around me or to the people closest to me. I couldn’t rationalise anything. Why was this happening to me? Why could I not control these thoughts? Why won’t it stop?
I began to just live my life for other people. My thoughts stopped me from enjoying anything. My thoughts had robbed me of myself. I didn’t want to be here anymore, but I knew I had to be, not for me but for my mum. She is the reason I am still fighting.
The only thing that got me through this time in my life was by talking. Whether that was with my mum, my therapist or my best friends. Holding in any of my thoughts would only allow them to get stronger and stronger to the point where I would have panic attacks. By talking, I would instantly feel more calm and my irrational thoughts became less scary as I would have people to rationalise them for me. It would give me that reassurance that I so desperately needed at that time in my life.
I want to live in a world where it is normal to say, ‘I’m not okay, I need someone to talk to, I need help’.
I am currently on medication to help control the physical symptoms of my anxiety (fast heart rate and trembly hands). I live my life now by taking each day as it comes, to not put any pressure on myself and to really enjoy my good days or even good moments. I am so grateful to have the supportive friends and family that I have and will forever be thankful for everything they have done for me.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a supportive network around them, and that is why I am sharing my story. I want to live in a world where it is normal to say, "I’m not okay, I need someone to talk to, I need help".
Let’s get people talking about their mental health. Let’s help educate and spread awareness. Remember, be kind to others as not every struggle is visible.
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