Failed.... by the Mental Health Team!
For the past twelve years... yes, that is correct TWELVE years, I have been failed time and time again by the mental health team, in my area. They failed constantly to recognise that I needed help, and now, twelve years on, I've reached my breaking point, anxiety has struck me down, and I'm desperate for help, more than ever, for my kids sake, not just mine.
At the age of just 15 years old, I thought I had it all. I did have it all. I had an amazing family, who supported me through everything, they were always there, no matter what I did, they were there.. I know I put them through some pretty rough patches, and around this age I did start to rebel a little. I was caught on numerous occasions underage drinking, I got cautioned by the police the first few times, until they did end up putting me on probation, and still it didn't stop me drinking. I would stay out, sometimes all weekend and not return home.. And I did get mixed up with the wrong crowd. But, no matter what happened, my parents were there for me, through it all, they never once turned their backs.
I had, what I thought at the time good friends around me. Friends that I could laugh and joke with, have some 'banter' with. Friends that were 'always there' - friends that I could rely on. Either way, no matter what happened between us, back then, they were the best thing ever, and I loved them all to bits, I couldn't have pictured not having them friends, in my life.
I was in a relationship with a "boy" - that I thought was the love of my life. I was head over heels bat shit crazy about this dude. He was like a God to me, and he could do nothing wrong in my eyes. I'm not going to insult him, because we did end on good terms, and I do still see him from time to time, and we would pass each other with a simple 'hello' - and for a while after we broke up, we did remain friendly, until I moved away.. But, at the time, breaking up seemed like the worst thing ever.
I was going through my GCSE's at the time also, and to be fair, as stressful as they were, I didn't do too badly judging by my results. Despite being a stupid little girl, becoming mixed up in alcohol and getting myself into trouble.. life did seem awesome!
But something was still missing.
I missed 'home' - Two years previous, we had moved to a whole new area - And as much as I did love my new friends - I hated the area, and still missed my old friends, that I was slowly but surely starting to lose all contact with. I had made new friends in the new area we lived, but I didn't fit in. They all grew up together, they all knew each others stories, history, they knew each other inside out, I was an outsider coming into that, and I knew I didn't belong nor fit in, as much as I tried. They made me feel welcomed and accepted yes.. But I still missed where I belonged. I still missed my friends.
Splitting up with 'that boy' also didn't help the mix, and being that involved with impressing my friends by drinking so much, wasn't a very good mix! The stress of my GCSE's was getting on top of me also, and I just had enough.
One night, my parents went out for a meal. I through a house party, I invited everyone round for drinks, and I ended up overdosing on my parents kitchen floor. I don't even remember what I took. I don't remember how many I took. I don't even remember getting to the hospital. All I remember is waking up in hospital the following day.
I regretted what I had done instantly. I shouldn't have done it. I don't know why I done it.
And I felt ashamed. Ashamed for putting my family through that, my parents, ashamed at the fact my younger brother was home, when I done it, and seen me in that state. Ashamed that I worried so many people, including some friends that did come to help me. Ashamed that I had let so many people see me like that, and find me like that. I knew when I woke up that day in hospital that I didn't want to die. I made a really horrible decision that night, based on temporary feelings, with alcohol thrown into the mix. Things should never have gotten that far, and all I could do was apologise.
I was discharged from hospital later into that morning, but was offered no further support, I was offered no counselling of any sort. Granted, I did regret what I done, but I was still feeling low at the time and I didn't know why I felt that way. I didn't know why I felt like I needed to end things the night before, even if I did regret what I did.
Fast forward two years. I was then seventeen! And again, loving life.
Everything was perfect. I was happy again.
I had my family, my friends and I was in a new relationship. But again, mixed up with the wrong crowd. I spent the whole of that summer, drinking with that crowd.
My Uncle, who was like a second father to me, had taken ill. He was in and out of hospital. So because I was travelling in and out of town to meet up with my friends and boyfriend, I would have occasionally popped into see my Uncle at his flat, to make sure he was O.K , to see if there was anything he needed, just anything I could for for him really.
Myself and my Uncle had a really close bond. We always had done. But he didn't approve of my relationship. He knew this boy, he lived beside him, knew his family, knew him, knew what they were like.. and he warned me off. Off course I didn't listen, I thought I knew best as per usual. This caused a lot of tension and friction between my Uncle and I. He was trying to protect me and I was being stubborn and refusing to listen. So as weeks past, the more I went to visit him, the more we argued, about anything really. He was getting worse, he was in pain, he was sore and very ill, and in this state, he was still trying to protect me, only I didn't see it that way then. He was getting more and more frustrated with me, and I know that now.. so the last time I seen him, we had a huge argument, and I never went back to his flat.
Two days later, he died.
That tore me about. At first I didn't really know what to do. I didn't want to believe it. I felt numb, for a while. Just shocked and couldn't really take it in, or at least I didn't want to take it in.. But then I felt anger, and I remember going out and getting drunk with those friends, and saying awful things about him. I told them I hated him, because I did. I hated him for leaving me. I hated him for arguing with me. I hated him for not going and getting the help he needed, because maybe then he would still be here.
For weeks, months, heck even years after that, I've felt anger, guilt, sadness, so many mixed emotions over his death, that I don't even know how I'm supposed to feel, how I'm supposed to act. Am I allowed to talk about him? Am I allowed to be angry with him, when he was a grown man? Am I allowed to be sad that we lost him, whenever I chose not to see him again after we argued? Am I allowed to miss him, when he was trying to protect me, and I was too blind to notice it?
I just didn't know how I was supposed to react!
Mum noticed I was slipping into a depression over this, so we went to the Doctor. The doctor said I needed bereavement counselling, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. He didn't refer me for anything. He didn't do anything actually. Again, I was left. So I just got on with it, on my own. I just stopped talking about it. I just let it build up and eat away inside me, I figured that's what I was supposed to do, as there's no help to stop me feeling how I did, so I just had to deal with it, and try to ignore how I felt.
Fast forward another two years!
I'm nineteen years old now! And just found out I'm expecting my first child, with David.
We are over the moon, excited, mum and dad are excited to become grandparents. Everyone is over the moon for us. This is the best bit of news the family had, had for ages. Mum and Dad were already getting a deposit put down on a pram for their first grandchild.
We were happy. All of us.
Until that happiness came crashing down around us, when a scan told me I had lost our baby.
Again, we were all tore apart. Everyone kept trying to talk to me. I didn't want to talk. I wanted to be left alone. For days on end I felt like someone had it in for me. Why would they take my baby? An innocent little child, that barely even had the chance to grow, barely even had a heartbeat, just snatched away like that.
I felt numb for around a week, before I started to feel a bit better. I looked around and realised I wasn't the only person that had lost this tiny life.
David had barely shed a tear, and I questioned why? Did he not feel how I did, this was his son or daughter too.. but he had been holding back his feelings, trying to be strong for my sake. Mum and Dad barely talked about it.. again, trying to spare my feelings. I realised, everyone was walking on eggshells, incase I got upset again.
I didn't want that.. I wanted them to grieve for their loss too! So I tried to be strong for them.
I let them grieve, I gave them time. I talked, openly about things.
I thought I was getting brave, but I still found myself, crying in pain most nights.
I still had so many unanswered questions. And the thoughts of babies, and pregnancies, I felt bitter and jealous. I hated feeling that way. Anyone's pregnancy is a blessing. And I wasn't the only person to have ever suffered a loss that way.
But I couldn't help how I felt.
Again.. I asked for help. This time, I was given it.
I was referred to my local mental health team to start counselling.
This lasted no more than a few weeks. They signed me up online for a course, at the end of that course I had two sessions with a counsellor, then I refused to go back.
I had opened up to this counsellor, about many things. About my attempted overdose, about my uncles death, about the miscarriage - and how I did plan on having more kids in the future.. Do you know what she said to me? ... Her exact words to me were
"but if your still depressed by the time you have another child, you will have it taken off you for being depressed"
I shit you not.
Now... I understand, she probably wanted me, not to be depressed... maybe she was trying to scare me into getting and sticking at the help? I don't know! I honestly don't.
All I know is, those words scared the living shit out of me.
That isn't what I wanted. I didn't want to lose any future kids the minute I gave birth. I didn't want to lose them full stop. I had already lost one child, taken from me far too soon, I was not prepared to lose any more.
So, I stopped going. I pretended I was fine. I pretended that somehow, I had managed to overcome this 'depression' and felt fine in myself again. I just pretended everything was o.k. I was 'normal' .. I didn't need looking after, I didn't need to talk to anyone.. My head was clear, I was feeling fresh. Everything was fine... Like it was only the bug I was getting over or something.
But deep down inside, I was getting worse and worse by the day, and anxiety was eating me up alive, and I felt like I couldn't admit it to anyone, out of fear.
Then.. A year and a half later.
Our rainbow baby came along. Lacey-Beth!
By this stage, anxiety had a hold over me. I wasn't in control of my own mind anymore.
But I still wouldn't admit that to anyone.
Because the pregnancy and birth went absolutely fine, I was still so afraid of losing Lacey-Beth. Those words kept ringing in my ears, and the miscarriage kept playing, over and over again in my head. I felt, she was too good to be true. She was so perfect and the most beautiful little girl I had ever laid my eyes upon. How could I create something so perfect? How could I be the mother to someone so beautiful? It had to be too good to be true.
I had myself convinced, that something was going to happen, that I was going to lose her.
So I became utterly terrified of cot death. The midwives every single visit kept rhyming it into my head, repeatedly to the point, I couldn't focus on anything else at nights, my mind went into overdrive.
So I just stayed awake. I sat by her moses basket, just watching her sleep peacefully. Any little sound she made, I bounced up.
I was living off energy drinks, and toast. I had lost so much weight, and I had huge black bags under my eyes.
The health visitor said she thought I was suffering with post natal depression.
She didn't follow through with anything though, and didn't suggest anything for me.
So I don't know to this day whether I was, or wasn't.
Now.. fast forward six years.
I'm now - almost 27 years old. Two healthy, beautiful girls. Engaged and getting married next year.
And it's only recently in the last few months, I've decided to stand up and go and get myself the help I need.
I started suffering with anxiety and panic attacks in 2016.. I took myself into the doctors, into A&E thinking something was seriously wrong with me, not knowing what was going on. This went on for quite a while, before one doctor eventually did diagnose me with anxiety, and gave me Citalopram.
These have really helped me, and I decided then to refer myself for counselling, in a completely different area.
I had my induction with the counsellor last week, and it went really well.
She was lovely, and was so shocked at how many health professionals in the mental health department have let me down and refused to help properly.
She gave me some good pointers, and some booklets on sleep problems, dealing with panic attacks, bereavement. Just talking for that one hour with her, really did help. I got a lot of my chest, and I am looking forward to getting stuck into the counselling sessions, and getting the help I need and deserve.
I want my life back. And I am determined to get it back again.
Anxiety and Depression stole it from me, now I'm reclaiming it and kicking their butts. Not only for me, but my girls deserve this too, they deserve a mummy, that isn't afraid to be herself. That can be the role model they deserve.
My local mental health team may have failed me... but another mental health team have already started saving me, and I am so thankful for that, and so thankful to my Mum, for always pushing me and encouraging me to speak out, and taking each step with me.