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My Recovery Story *Trigger?*- 2 steps forward, one step back Watch

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    I’ve wanted to tell my story for a long time now in the hope that someone read it and say ‘me too’, or feel like they are not in the darkness, fighting alone; and hopefully to share with you some useful things on the way.

    I don’t expect anyone to read this or anyone to care about the crappy I had to put up with but then again alot managing this stuff is saying 'ok i cant change the way i think about this but thats not how life is'. Hopefully someone will read my story and share theirs. of course my life is fully hope and positivity or at least I like to make it seem that way!

    I wanted to wait for moment where I felt like I was truly ‘happy’ and ‘recovered’, and it keeps feeling like I’m never going to get there. For me the process of my recovery started to make sense about a year and half ago and I’m beginning to realise that recovery isn’t a destination, it’s a journey and a lot of the time it feels like you take 2 steps forward and one step back. I make no apologies for the length of it, I feel its all relevant.
    MAY TRIGGER

    I am not really sure where to begin, partly because I’ve never received a formal diagnosis of depression- not for a lack of trying. So I little bit of context, my name is Heather; I am 22 and studying to be a mental health nurse. My dad has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and was diagnosed initially with depression when I was 10. In the last 12 year my dad has had countless admissions to hospital, only one of which he was sectioned under the mental health act, on three occasions he tried to commit suicide which landed him in intensive care. I find really difficult to tell you how that feels because I don’t really know myself. Apart of me looks back and thinks that was different Heather, a different life and way of coping (or lack of) and another part just makes me feel really sick. One of the hardest parts of being a carer to someone love, is knowing that they think your life will be better without them. I remember thinking that Dad was so selfish about putting us through that and not understanding how much it hurt- his attitude was always that he couldn’t see any other way. It wasn’t until I felt suicidal (I come to that later) that I truly understood that darkness he must of felt. My role within my family has always and will continue to be the one of strength and support- everyone leans upon me and I don’t lean on anyone else in return.

    The point in my life that I truly recognise at having depression is when I was 16. Apart of when dad was in a high phase is that he spent loads of money and the irony of it is that even though my dad will disagree, me and my sister always thought we weren’t affluent, whilst we lived in an area of the UK that was. As result we had to sell the family home and go into emergency social housing. We went from a large 4 bedroom detached house in a village to a tiny 2 bedroomed house in a town. I was doing my GCSE’s. For my 16th birthday my two best friends came round my house and we got very drunk. While I was asleep, they were looking through my files on my computer and found a video of me naked masturbating, I had been a victim online and thought that I was in love. I had to a take a few days off after that weekend because I had tonsillitis and I went back to school to find that my two ‘best friends’ had told everyone about what I had did. I was bullied, I never had many friends at secondary school and was really shy, a good girl and introverted so everyone found this so scandalous and hilarious. I didn’t whatsoever. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die- I started truanting and spending break times in the toilet away from everybody. For the first time I felt like I was physical pain because of things that were going on around me and the distress I was experiencing. The school had told the police and I had to tell the police what had happened with my parents there. I said the minimalist amount possible. That was the first time; my mum had taken me to the doctor- didn’t tell me why I had to go and didn’t tell the doctor anything. I don’t think I would still around today without my chemical romance- the black parade album, literally got me through that year! Embarassing now looking back, that I liked such over emotional music but it filled a hole. Now I’ve told my family if you ever see me with my headphones in literally 24/7 it’s a sign that I’m not doing well, it’s a great way to tell them- without telling them so they know when to give me space and when to be a pest, because I know that I still need someone to be a pest sometimes!

    I went to 6th form afterwards having no idea what I wanted to do in life and dropped out 6 months afterwards. I didn’t have any friends because I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone my own age and the ways I developed to deal with the social anxiety was to avoid social situations. I tried again the next academic year at a much smaller 6th form and something just clicked in my brain, along the lines of I don’t give a flying fish what people think of me, I just going to try being me which I’d never done before, since like primary school, before dad was diagnosed . Whilst in secondary school I felt like I needed to tell everyone that I was even slightly a friend about my dad, because I was/is a massive part of life, I didn’t tell anyone at 6th form and I felt free. All my friends and they were actually friends were just as socially awkward as I was and because I was a year older and I was that little bit wiser, or least that’s what I tell myself! For a few months I was really productive, working really hard because they was no way I was going to fail at 6th again, it was my last chance. I was also losing a lot weight, starving myself so I get myself into smaller clothes within the space of about 8 months I went down from a size 16 to a size 8 jeans and size 10 top. I know that this was really quite self-abusive but at the time I had reason to stand up tall and be confident. Looking back, I love that I managed that determination and motivation within me- I was getting on with life.

    At Christmas time 2008, I kissed Daniel-my first love-at my part time job’s Christmas party, over the next few months, we started dating and became completely infatuated with him. I still don't know to this day whenever over relationship was completely mutual. Partly because Daniel was very emotionally intelligent and upon reflection I need that. I stopped doing school work and started falling behind, oversleeping for college. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. But it was all fine because I had Daniel. In September 2009, Daniel went to uni, a train journey of 4 hours costing £50 to go see him. I really affected me being that far apart and not being able to see him and I started not going in to college because I felt lethargic. Also we would spend hours online on skype talking or texting or on the phone until the early hours. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. I never realised how that affected his social life at uni.

    In September 2010, I started uni to train as an adult nurse. I still quite shy and introverted and by that time I thought that uni was going to fix all my problems. It didn’t. My mood became quite unstable, I got freshers flu and a UTI so missed a lot of early lectures and didn’t really mix with anyone on my course. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. My housemates were really girly, giggly and drank loads- I really didn’t know who I was at this point so tried to follow suit, throwing ‘me’ out the window. They posted a picture on facebook of me singing while drunk and loads of people commented about how I looked like Susan Boyle. It really knocked my trust in my housemates and I asked to move to a different flat. I also got really drunk and told them how much I hated them. They egged my new room and my laptop, and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I decided to leave uni after 2 months. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. I am so ashamed looking back at that time, I was never true to who I am as a person, not sleeping, cooking but not eating.

    I came back from uni and signed on the dole. Still my lowest moment of my life, the months that proceeded. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. I felt failure and bum, had nothing to get out of bed for and doubted every part of who I was and whether I was cut out to be a nurse. I was self-harming, bruising-I would never cut due my dad’s scars on his arms. In February 2011, I went up to see Daniel and told him that if I didn’t have him I would probably try and end my life. He said that if I ever tried to commit suicide he would leave me - I never told him how I felt again. Even today, I feel sick about his attitude and lack of emotion and understanding and it still very much hurts.

    In March 2011, dad made his 3rd attempt on his life. I had went with him to the library to meet his support worker for a cup of coffee and dad turned to me and gave me his watch, wallet and phone and said to me “I’m sorry Heather but I’m not coming back with you”. I just assumed that the result of the meeting meant that dad was going to go into hospital- he had taken an overdose and within 15 mins was collapsed over the table and the paramedics were attending to him. Until dad woke up, life seemed to stop and suddenly I couldn’t be the puddle on the floor that I had been.

    In May 2011, Daniel came home for Easter and told me that he didn’t want to have a family, at this point in time we had been together for 2 ½ years and the only thing keeping me alive (apart from his comment) was the thought that after uni we were going to move together and play happy family. I dumped him and felt the full of wrath of heartbreak. Every break up song ever written suddenly made sense, I spent about a month- 6 weeks eating crisps and watching CSI in bed until 4-5am. I had finally felt something, real and raw. At the same time, two of my close 6th form mates (who I later found out had depression) had also broke up from long term relationships and we spent literally a week together, drunk- it was amazing! Completely maladaptive but at least we had each other!

    The weeks after that everything seemed to be a lot clearer and it was like I remembered how to turn my brain back on. A definite part of me and my personality was to be compassionate and I didn't know whether that would be more useful in a mental health or adult nursing context. So I planned to apply mental health nursing at uni in September and also applied to train in the army. The more I thought about it the more it made sense, it wasn’t just the fact that I have depression and dad had bipolar disorder, it was because I always wondered why the nurses that cared for dad did things in particular ways and didn’t show dad or me or any of any respect or compassion, they knew what was going on. Still have yet to learn mind reading maybe that will be year 3! I had the privilege to see amazing care and really awful care and stand up and stay this could make me get up in the morning. Applying for army made me also realise how good at running I was, how much I loved it! It helped with my sleep, my mood, gave a reason to eat and appealed to the fact that I wanted to be better, I just didn’t know how. I’d never been a sporting person and I don’t consider myself a sporting person now but it involves so much discipline and I use that when I feel like I don’t want get out of bed- I felt in my body that I was strong, for the first time I felt healthy! Just because crappy things happen doesn’t make your life crappy.

    August 2011. Looking back I don’t know why I did it but I did, I went looking through clearing and found a spot in mental health nursing at Anglia Ruskin and I was so nervous with excitement. I never felt so hopeful and so scared in my life! I completely jabbered my way through the interview and got the only place left. From that moment I honestly never thought I would stop smiling and I haven’t! I have been going from strength to strength- I am probably a workaholic and my tutor says I should be aiming for a first. My uni friends are so supportive and for the first time I can be honest with the crap I have to put up from dad sometimes. I love my job and not a lot of people get to say that. I mean I still have to deal with the anxiety and low self-worth; it doesn’t help when people keeping saying I’m brilliant. I can help thinking about my life and smiling, saying tomorrow will be better.

    I wish my story ended there. In November 2012, as I came back from a birthday lunch with my friends I came home to my mum saying that she was going to leave my dad after 24 years of marriage and it crushed my dad. I have never seen him cried and for the next 2 weeks he just sobbed on moment and stated that he was going to hang himself the next. It was awful to have to live in that much fear. I managed to keep things to together, until January 2013 when I relapsed and to honest I’m still trying to dig myself out of that hole. Went to the doctors to get some support and go told that how I was circumstantial. I don’t feel hopeless and I can keep a fairly good mask to hide how I’m feeling from others. But it still sucks. I know that it will only be for a little bit and things are never as dark as they seem but it still sucks.

    I think the messages that I want to leave with you is this:

    Never be afraid to say you’re not ok and open with others. You dont have to spill your guts and be vulnerable in front people. Just say im not ok but its ok I don’t need anyone to talk to. But at the same time, think about whether you do need to talk about things- it’s helped me a lot to validate my distress.

    Let go of things and learn to shove some of that emotional trauma in box and never think about it again. I mean writing this has been something that I have wanted to do for ages and been so scared of not being able to put it back into the box. It might take some time but it’s worth it. Don’t think you have to talk about everything- there are things that I haven’t put in here because I know that aren’t safe to let into my brain and fester within the negativity.

    It takes more muscles to smile than it does to frown.

    Understand what stresses you out

    Depression is not necessarily a biochemical disease. You are the agent of change

    Keep yourself safe- it’s never as dark as you think it is.

    Depression is a curse of the strong- never think you are weakness because you have survived, you are brave and your worthy of happiness and love!
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    I'm sorry that you've been through much! I don't know what to say that will help or support you but stay strong because it does get better!

    Thank you for writing that because its reminded me that I can keep going and my problems are small in comparison to others! I attempted suicide at Christmas and self harm- it's reading things like what you've written that make me feel as though I can carry on!

    You're an inspiration! And you'll be an amazing nurse!


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