Becca's story: "I have been on quite a journey"

Over the years I have been on quite a journey.

When I was 14 years old I started hearing voices and hallucinating. A few months later, when I turned 15, I became very withdrawn and began to experience severe depression.

I started to self-harm and had suicidal thoughts. At the time I never believed that I would make it to my 16th birthday. I also began restricting the amount I was eating in order to control what was going on in my life. At 16 years old I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and depression. Aged 17, I was diagnosed with anxiety and I am now 19 years old.

When I first started talking about my mental health to others that were close to me there was a lot of tension and arguments, because I told them how I was really feeling. Since then, which was a few years ago, I haven’t felt comfortable openly talking about my mental health with those close to me, but I feel able to talk to people I don’t know so well.

However, I do have a few friends that have been consistently supportive throughout the years which I am very grateful for. Talking to other people online with the same or similar experiences has been really helpful for me.

There are a few things that really haven’t helped along the way. The lack of understanding and support from staff at school due to the stigma around mental health made it incredibly difficult for me to talk about my mental health because when I did tell some staff how I was feeling they would say that I was using my illnesses as an excuse, that I wasn’t helping myself and that there was nothing that they could do to help. As a result of this I became more isolated and withdrawn. It was just reinforcing the thoughts that I already had: no one cared and I was too difficult to help.

I would put even more barriers up and wouldn’t let people in. It got to the point that when staff asked if I was okay I would just say "Yeah" and not a word more.

Looking back to three years ago I wish I knew that there are people out there that really do care and that I wasn’t alone. I also wish I knew that I wasn’t going to be suicidal and unwell forever and that things really do get better if you have the right support networks around you.

Now my friends and family know more about my illnesses, things have got better when it comes to talking about my mental health. I still struggle from time to time but mentally I am in a much better place now. I’m not anywhere near as suicidal as I was a few years ago when I had suicidal thoughts every day. My eating habits have improved as well.

I’ve still got some way to go but I’m heading in the right direction.

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