Back To Roots: Our Mental Health Journey
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
This is probably one of our most personal posts to date and it definitely isn't easy opening up about our problems but if this helps just one person then we have done something right.
I was a very confident and bubbly child growing up, I had a very happy childhood until the age of 12 when we lost somebody very close to us and it tore the family apart, especially my mom. I watched her turn into a stranger, she was always so down and depressed which had a major impact on me also. I went into this shell that I just couldn't break myself out of and I suddenly changed into this person I didn't recognise, very quiet and and closed off. I remember leaving school with only one friend who I still love and adore eleven years on. Around the age of 16 I became a complete hermit, I was terrified to get a job because I hated meeting new people. It became so bad that I never left my bedroom, I was so scared to leave the house and think of getting on any sort of public transport because I was so convinced that people were staring at me, not going to lie but I still try and avoid getting on a bus now but my fear of them is nowhere near how bad it was back then. When I did finally pluck up the courage to get my first job, it felt good for a little while until I let my mind take over again. All I remember is my mind being my biggest enemy, I would always get so worked up over the smallest things, for example if my mom was five minutes late coming home from work, my mind would go into overdrive and just start assuming the worst because I was so afraid of losing a loved one again and it would cause me to have a panic attack. I didn't even really know what a panic attack was when I experienced them but they would be a regular occurrence and I would just be alone in my room completely unaware of what was happening to me but I was just so scared to tell anyone. Anxiety wasn't really a known thing back then so I was just very confused as to what was happening and I always just felt so alone and different to everyone else. I suffered really bad with chest pains once which resulted in me going to a&e and the doctor just basically diagnosing me with anxiety and stress to which he gave no real advice for, just told me to try and 'relax a bit more'. I researched anxiety and it confirmed everything I was experiencing but yet I still had no way of trying to overcome it. As I grew older in my teenage years, I started to hate myself more every day, I would constantly pick out every little flaw and I just had zero confidence which resulted in me pushing a lot of people away, not intentionally, just because I was convinced people secretly hated me and that I wasn't of any value to anyone. My anxiety definitely got in the way of relationships, I would always keep my wall up because I was so scared of getting my heart broken again and because of how people had treated me in the past. If someone was to pay me a compliment, I would just assume they were not being genuine and I would take it the wrong way. This time two years ago, I was so depressed, I had no idea what I wanted out of life, no money, no ambition and I absolutely despised myself (which makes me very upset writing). Even having people around me, I felt more alone than ever, I always kept everything to myself and never wanted to tell anyone how I was feeling because I didn't want to be a burden. I would find myself always sleeping to try and escape reality or I would be on my phone all day scrolling through social media comparing my life to others which is so toxic. I was so convinced that this was going to be my life forever and that I was never going to escape this and thinking back, it breaks my heart that I ever felt like this, I just wanna grab my younger self and give her a squeeze and reassure her that everything will be okay. I remember waking up one day so sick of feeling tired and shitty every single day, I wanted to make a change. Don't get me wrong, it was not easy, it didn't happen over night, it took me a very long time to decide that I needed to take action and the process of it was even harder. I got rid of toxic people who made me question myself, I forced myself out of bed everyday even if it was to just walk down to the shops, I left my job that wasn't doing anything for me. I would set little daily tasks like reading up on things I was interested in or watching something helpful and completing these made me feel proud and like I had actually done something productive with my day. As cheesy as it sounds, spirituality and self help books really helped change my negative mindset and I definitely recommend so if you're interested in reading some click here. I ended up finding a job that I actually enjoy and met some of my best friends through it. I always say to Ab that I manifested her into my life and I was always so desperate for a friend who was on the same wave length as me and then one day, Ab was the new girl at work who I instantly clicked with and we found ourselves having conversations like we had known each other for years. I'm not going to lie, I still have my days where I isolate myself or feel very anxious but I remember how far I have come. I can still be very closed off as a lot of my friends know but it's something I am working on and I can see improvements. I am very lucky to have the family and friends I have, it hasn't been an easy few years for me but I am definitely seeing a better outlook on life. My mom is the strongest woman I have ever known and even though she had her struggles, she's come out the other end and we are as close as we have ever been and I am forever grateful for that. If you're struggling, talk to someone, even if you want to drop me or Ab a message, we're there to listen. Mental health is a subject that is talked about a lot more than it was ten years ago, there are so many options and we want you to know you are not alone.
Now not going to lie but this is hard to write, only because I have struggled to open up to the closest people in my life never mind the internet. But you do what you gotta do and if it makes someone realise they are not alone then what's the harm in trying. I won't go into the details, one because my experiences are very similar to Chlo's and two, because as much as I want to practice what I preach, I just don't want to share every single thing I have gone through. I think for me the starting point of my poor mental health was when I was thirteen and I lost my step Grandad (Terry) who I was so so close to. We were inseparable really through child hood, I was always around my Nan and Terry's house. When I lost him I really didn't know what to do with myself for a good year, I became this negative young teenager who put everything down including herself. I cried myself to sleep for months every single night because all I wanted to be was where Terry was. I soon realised I was depressed, like proper and that's something I never imagined happening to myself and I didn't really know much about. I'm not prepared to share about how bad it got, for my family's respect as they don't know but all I'm saying is I'm so lucky that my mom dragged me out of that mental black hole. Don't get me wrong, it affected me so much and still does to this day, I suffered with anxiety a little after that point. I was always paranoid about my friends not actually wanting to be my friends and any little bit of criticism I would take to heart and tell myself I'm not good enough. I remember I failed a GCSE in Year 10 and I sobbed for ages thinking I would just never get anywhere in life and I was not going to be good enough for any job or anyone. But do you know what, I went back in September and sat my GCSE's that year... I absolutely smashed them and now I am in my second year at Uni studying Psychology with Criminology! For a brief moment, I didn't believe in myself and found myself slipping back into my unhealthy mind set and now look, I'm nearly half way through my degree with opportunities galore! I just had to learn how to jump over those hurdles and crack on.
I won't lie when I say my life's great now and my mental health is great because to be honest, it's not. I have had the worst year of my life this year and I'm really trying to stay positive and not let things get to me but unfortunately they do. But you have to look at all these positive things that have happened, I may have suffered heart break, loss and have gone through things I never ever thought I would but I have gained some genuinely great friends who have been with me through it all. I passed my first year at Uni (even with shit attendance). Side note: if you're in a bad place mentally, take time out for you. Me and Chlo have started this blog which I'm so grateful to have (as well as her obviously)! Through all the shit times which have mainly been this year, there was always something/someone great that was alongside me at the time. I guess what I'm trying to say without wanting you all to get your violins out is that; no matter how hard it gets. there is always a light, sometimes someone may have to help you turn it on but that's okay. Let them. I'm not in a good place at the moment but I'm allowing people like Chlo and other friends and family help guide me to a better mindset. All I'm saying is bring on 2020!
Love Ab & Chlo x