I briefly mentioned this in my birthday post, but I’ve recently been struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis. So many of you have been really lovely and helpful. It’s been a great reminder that I’m not alone and I really apprecriate that. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to speak candidly about all this.
For years now, I have struggled with my mental health. I have always known something isn’t quite right, but I never thought to get any help. I don’t know whether it’s fear, stigma, my persona, or my upbringing, but I thought I didn’t deserve help. As somebody who is strong-minded and high-functioning, I’ve always been taught to get on with things. The thought that there are people worse off than me has stopped me from seeking help for a long time.
Although this thought is still at the back of my mind, I recently decided to try do something about it. What led to this? I think I’m growing up and becoming more self-aware. Things haven’t gotten worse, I’m just more aware of signs and real sick of this horrible cycle I find myself in.
So, I went to see a doctor. I said some things I haven’t really said out loud before and I broke down. I left feeling really vulnerable, but ultimately it was a step I needed to take. They recommended me to a local ‘wellbeing service’ and I found myself on a waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
It was there I was met with a diagnosis. Here are three things that have happened since then:
I felt a bit broken
I didn’t realise it at the time, but a diagnosis was something I definitely needed. Like I said, I have struggled for ages and not really known what is wrong with me. I suspected I suffered from anxiety and I was right. However, depression was thrown into the mix too. I think this is the part I struggled with the most. Suddenly, these feelings and cycles I experience had a name. They seemed more real and even more scarier. I felt really broken and it was a lot to process. Anxiety and depression is a horrendous mix, I guess I just felt really overwhelmed by it all.
A lot of things started to make sense
Past behaviours, little habits, why I find myself doing particular things, all these things started to make more sense. I didn’t even realise I experienced physical symptoms until I spoke to a therapist. It’s been kind of awful realising that my teen angst was more than just angst. I think when we’re younger our struggles are ruled out by hormones. Clarity is bittersweet; it made me feel stupid, unheard and also blown my mind a couple of times. It’s definitely a process.
A diagnosis has helped me accept myself
Although this is a new and scary thing, I think ultimately knowledge is power. I keep getting really overwhelmed by the fact that this is just my life now. It’s not something I can cure, but it’s something I can certainly try to manage. Coming to this realisation is helping me accept myself and also serves as a reminder to be kinder to myself.
In terms of other mental health bloggers and tweeters out there, I realise I’m pretty ‘behind’. I realise this may be something you have read before or something you already know, but I wanted to write it anyway. It’s a process and definitely one that is teaching me a lot.
Photography by Kaye Ford