Savannah's story: "I wish I had known that talking to others about your problems makes you feel a lot better"

I first started to experience mental health problems between the ages of 11 and 13 years old. I was depressed, due to bullying, and often thought about ending my life.

It wasn’t until the age of 15 that my mental health problems began to have a severe effect on my daily life. I developed Anorexia Nervosa in August 2013 but was not diagnosed until September 2014. The effects of anorexia nervosa had already had a big impact by this point as I had lost a considerable amount of weight, continually had injuries and bruises, combined with a lack of energy and constant fainting.

At college I had severe panic attacks which led to me being suspended for four weeks. My tutors at college – who were nurses as I was studying Health and Social Care – suggested I go to A&E for my panic attacks and anorexia nervosa as they didn’t know how to help and said I was a ‘distress to other students’.

As I was a couple of pounds away from being underweight, the doctor said I was fine and sent me home. I took this as being ‘too fat’ and continued to lose weight. Since November 2014, I have continued to battle depression, social anxiety disorder and relapses of anorexia nervosa.

It is such a scary thing to experience suicidal thoughts at the age of 11.

During my journey with mental health problems, I have learned many things. I have been able to contact others with the same conditions which has made me feel less alone. I wish I had known there were others dealing with same issues when I first started developing problems.

It is such a scary thing to experience suicidal thoughts at the age of 11. I wish I had known more about what a mental illness was and how I could get the help I needed. During my struggle, I have found it incredibly tough to find the right treatment that I feel I needed. I have found it difficult to find a doctor who listens and understands my problems. 

Although the majority of health professionals were unable to fully help me, I found comfort in one tutor during my time at college who helped me come to terms with my mental illness and build up my confidence. She helped me remain at college and complete my course which has led me to my university course today. I know I am able to go back to this tutor if need be and thank her for all the help she has given me. I continue to look for a GP that will provide the support I need but I am optimistic help will come.

I wish I had known that talking to others about your problems makes you feel a lot better

If I had known how to get the correct treatment during an early age, and had people to listen to me, I feel I would not have suffered to the degree that I did. I also wish I had known that talking to others about your problems makes you feel a lot better, especially if the person listens and lends a hand.

I wish I had known that there were charities and people out there who offered help for mental illness instead of suffering in silence for years. I encourage others with mental health problems to reach out and talk about their problems no matter how difficult it may seem. 

In 2015, I created a film about Social Anxiety Disorder with the charity Fixers UK to tackle the stigma in schools attached to the illness. I hope that this has helped people recognize their own symptoms. I want others to be able to seek professional help with any symptoms they may have – especially if they feel they may be living with mental health problems. If they struggle to find the help they need, I’d tell them to keep trying until they find the right person who will help.