I wanted to write a blog post for a while going into how my mental health problems began but didn’t know how to go about it. I’ve been in a really good place and talking about darker times was the last thing I wanted to think about. However, the last few days haven’t been so good and I found talking about it easier.
Like many people dealing with mental health issues, it started in my teenage years. I had always been a very sociable person who had lots of friends and would speak to anyone. My days were filled with playing different sports and activities. Swimming, dancing, tennis, football… you name it, I did it. Every school play I wanted to be a part of, nothing phased me and I had such enthusiasm. It wasn’t until I was separated from everyone that things started to change.
I was one of three people from my primary school going to Redhill instead of the other local comprehensive as I lived outside the catchment area. The other two people were boys from the other class who I didn’t know or speak to. I was essentially alone and I was terrified the whole of that summer about starting a new school. Fortunately, I had good social skills at the time so making new friends was easy. Having a good group of friends made the days bearable and for the first couple of years we were in the same classes. I still did a couple of after school sports clubs and I could just about cope with whatever the teachers threw at us. It wasn’t until year 9 (3rd year) that things really took their toll on me.
An older girl who lived around the corner from me joined the same school as she had left her last school because she was getting bullied. We had been friends for a while in the past but we fell out and never made up. She started hanging round with a group of girls and they would threaten me and shout stuff at me whenever I saw them in the playground. I would try to avoid them as much as possible and keep my head down, having a big group of 14-15 year old girls telling you at 13 years old they were going to beat you up was scary. I’d walk into the town after school to catch a different bus and dreaded going into any of the school toilets in case they were in there. I was so anxious and on edge all the time. My attendance at school dropped a bit and I had stopped participating in any after school clubs.
People around me noticed I was unhappy and quiet. As well as this, I had only a few classes with my friends now and most of them I was sat alone or with someone I didn’t know. I barely saw my friends who lived near me anymore as they would hang out with people from their schools. I spent a lot of time alone in my room on my computer writing fan fiction or playing games as an escape. You wouldn’t have thought I was a happy social girl only a few years before. I’d barely speak to anyone and that was where the real self loathing began.
Out of frustration I began to self harm by cutting my skin. On a really bad day I would pull at my hair and bang my head against the wall. I was in such distress the majority of the time and couldn’t bare the thought of going to school for another two and a half years. It wasn’t until one day I came home from school crying that I told my mum about the bullying. She marched straight around the girl’s house to speak to her mum but she didn’t come to the door. I told one of the teacher’s at school instead who called us both in her office the next day. It was then I found out the girl herself had been bullied at her last school and the teacher said she would be kicked out if she carried on. Thankfully, her and her friends did stop and would just glare at me whenever they saw me. I could deal with a few dirty looks and a massive weight had lifted off my shoulders.
Unfortunately, the anxiety and the self hatred didn’t go away. With me being nervous and quiet, it left me as an easy target for others to be nasty. Especially considering none of my friends were in any of my classes so I was often the awkward one standing by themselves. These were the type of girls that were mean to everyone and they didn’t seek me out specifically. I still prayed whenever I was in the same class as them that it wasn’t my turn to be humiliated by them.
Half way through year 10 my anxiety and depression had given me physical symptoms (headaches, panic attacks, stomach aches, diarrhoea, etc). I remember sitting in the library at dinner time on a Monday being so scared to go to my next lesson that I felt like I was going to throw up. I told a teacher I didn’t feel well and I was sent home.
The details are a bit sketchy but from then I missed a lot of school. My friends grew distant the more time I had off and they made new friends with other people in their classes. As I wasn’t in the same lessons I didn’t know them and the ‘leader’ of the group took a disliking to me. She turned the others and eventually my friends against me. Everyone would follow her and was too afraid to go against anything she said. So I spent my final year of school mostly in a teaching assistant’s room or the library.
My time at secondary school still haunts me to this day and nearly ten years later I’m still not completely over it. I hope one day I can come to peace with it. As it still affects the way I socialise I’m struggling to move on from it.
That’s how my depression and anxiety began. This post was initially suppose to be a Q & A but it turned into a story which I think helps explain everything better. If you want to hear any more details about anything or what happened after, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do another blog post. Thanks for reading XOXO.
24 Hours a day/ 7 Days a week