“I won't stop until I can make a positive difference to the world.”
My mental health journey began at an extremely young age. At just 18 months I began displaying unusually forward behaviour. As I got older, I was excelling faster than normal for my age, and other worrying traits emerged. I began pulling my own hair out and also had intolerance for my clothing. I couldn’t wear certain clothes unless they were inside out, otherwise I would scream because of my heightened awareness to the feel on my skin.
When I was six-years-old I was finally diagnosed with trichotillomania, a stress disorder which makes you pull out your own hair out. The previous hair tugging made so much sense after this diagnosis!
However, over the years, things continued to get worse. I was being bullied at school and my mental health was vastly declining. One of my worst episodes was when I was in Year 9. I was in maths class and I had this almighty panic attack and went into sensory overload. I felt like I wanted to physically insert myself into my classroom wall to disappear. I was frantic, desperately asking for help, whilst my friends and teachers just looked at me telling me to calm down. It was after this I pleaded to see a doctor.
After months of assessments I was finally diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism – it was a great feeling to put things into perspective and be able to feel heard and slightly understood. Following that, I was then diagnosed with Extreme Anxiety, Reactive Depression and Tic Disorder. When we explored the conditions everything began falling into place. How I used to feel in my younger years made sense, with all my sensitivities to certain things.
My mum’s original reaction to my diagnosis was confusion. She had thought both my childhood and then teenage struggles were just ‘toddler tantrums’ and then ‘puberty’ until the doctors confirmed otherwise. Diagnosis was the light at the end of the tunnel because it enabled me and others around me to realise my struggles were genuine and not just passed off as me ‘being silly’. Previously, my teachers’ reactions were less than supportive and really made me question my own struggles and experiences. I thought I was going mad!
I then began treatment. I had many sessions with my first psychologist where we explored my past struggles from birth to now. She also pushed for me to become home-schooled which was a huge relief! I cannot thank her enough for helping me to understand myself. Suggesting I read books like ‘Aspergirls’ so that I could identify any similarities. It was amazing to feel like my life was being written on paper but by someone else. Eventually, I started ‘mental health sessions’ where we spoke about my feelings and tried to understand my triggers, discuss preventative methods and also self-help and self-care. With the guidance and validity from my mental health nurse I learned I could only be my best self, once I helped myself. A year later I was discharged!
I look at my life with a mental health diagnosis right now as being a beautiful story of pain, struggle, acceptance, discovery, growth and light. I have become the person I am today because of my past and present struggles. Without them I wouldn’t be as strong, resilient and quirky. My desire and passion to help others stems from my own hardships and I thank each and every one of my downfalls for making me a compassionate human being, with the intent to change the world! If I can get through it, anyone can and I won’t stop until I can make a positive difference to the world!