On the 12 July I met up with Joy for a belated catch-up coffee due to university life being very busy at the end of the year. I always enjoy seeing Joy, someone to talk to who is not a nurse, doctor or family member, but someone rather whom I can chat to about anything. Sometimes this strays away from my mental health and we end up talking about books we like, or in my case how much I love dogs!
This meeting was slightly different in that it marked just over a year since I had first met Joy in A&E after a failed suicide attempt. I had taken an overdose the day before and only went to A&E after I had confided in my old college pastoral support teacher. It is safe to say that I was completely broken and I had no sense of a future.
I had been struggling with Anorexia, OSFED (undiagnosed – inclusion of binge eating, toxic relationship with food, delusions concerning body image/size/weight), Depression and suicidal thoughts for the previous three and a half years before my suicide attempt and it seemed like the right thing to do; to ease the pain from my family. I felt worthless, incapable of ever being loved and the irrational voice in my brain became overwhelming.
During my thirty hour stay in A&E, Joy acted as a glimmer of hope and the mother-figure I needed, before my mum arrived, to say that it can get better even if it feels hopeless at the time. She gave me her number to text her whenever I needed and to arrange a coffee meeting as soon as I was out of A&E.
So…one year later and I’m still here, living and breathing with my mental health continuing to be a huge part of my life. On the bright side I am now in a loving relationship with a man who I adore and who has held my hand all the way during this year. I am no longer having suicidal thoughts or planning any actions to follow through on those thoughts. My irrational voice is a lot quieter now, but still shouts when there is a trigger, or I am in a difficult situation. After my suicide attempt, my anti-depressants were changed which has helped massively. I have been on them now for over a year and I think they have given me the space in my head to hear the rational voice to fight the darker thoughts. My living situation changed and I am no longer living in University halls where I was incredibly isolated and lonely, rather living in a house with four other people forced me to be more sociable. I can now see a future which, one year ago, I never thought possible. I am now comfortable wearing shorts and strappy tops in public (this is huge for me!). However, it wasn’t easy getting here. After my failed attempt I started self-harming as I felt like such a failure. Again, this is not such an issue anymore, but I am still finding my way with how my scars are perceived in public.
I hope that this post about the changes over one year is encouraging for anyone who feels as though they are surrounded by darkness. A year ago, I just wanted to be swallowed by the voices in my head. But now I see that I have got better and improved my analytical skills through weekly talking-therapy sessions to question the irrational voices in my brain. It has not by any means been an easy year, but with the ongoing support from Emerge, therapy, loved ones and my own perseverance, I have been able to really change my outlook.
I follow a body-positivity activist called Megan Jane Crabbe (@BodyPosiPanda) who has been such an inspiration in changing how I see my body and to actually begin to think about liking how I look. She too had Anorexia and Depression and I found her story encouraging for those ready to change how they judge themselves.
I am now looking forward to what the future will hold for me, even though it is still scary and I still have a long way in learning coping mechanisms to better handle my mental health, I can see beyond the next day to the next month and beyond, no longer afraid of existing.
Here’s to another year which will hopefully be filled with more ups than downs.