Okay let’s be completely honest here. No beating around the bush. No holds barred. Pure honesty!
My name is Louise, I am 20 years old and I hate butter on my sandwiches. You have no idea. Seriously. I can eat bread and butter just fine, even buttered toast. But when it comes to butter on sandwiches I just can't. Oh and I also have Anxiety and Depression. Potentially PTSD too but, you see, I haven’t got a piece of paper to say that I have it. So I can’t really say that I do, can I? I mean it’s quite funny really, when I look at the so called ‘check list’ I definitely tick the majority of the boxes. But I’m not a professional so I can’t diagnose myself. PTSD has recently showed it’s face after going through trauma – I fully intend to go into this in more depth at some point in my life but sadly that day is not today. Anxiety and Depression on the other hand have been in my life for quite a long time (haha ‘Anxiety and Depression’ makes them sound like a troublesome duo don’t you think? Like Tweedledum and Tweedledee).
When I was born my mom was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression (fully understandable considering the circumstances). My mom had a condition known known as Cholestasis, she didn’t know this until she went in for a checkup, which meant I needed to be born ASAP. Imagine this: going in for a check-up; relishing the final few (5 to be exact) weeks of peace until you have to look after a human; slightly nervous but knowing that you have a bit more time to prepare - only to be told that that wasn’t going to be the case and that you were going to leave your so-called ‘checkup’ with said human. You can’t because it’s absolutely terrifying. So the aftermath is completely plausible. Doesn’t mean it didn’t affect me though. It was definitely the catalyst for my mental health issues. Growing up without an emotional connection to those closest to you affected my ability to form close relationships with others - and I suppose it still does.
Please note that I am in no way shape or form trying to insinuate that children whose parents experience some form of Postnatal Depression will end up like me. This is merely my story.
And so the vicious cycle of having unbelievably poisonous thoughts about myself started to spiralled and spiralled some more. Looking back now I find it incredibly saddening to think that a small child thought such dreadful things about herself and the life she lived, to the point of not even wanting to live it anymore. But she did and that child was me. I grew up thinking that I was awfully odd. I would hide behind a character, a mask, which I had developed to try and fit in – not entirely sure if it worked but hey it was better than being myself right? I didn’t fit in but I didn’t stand out either. Painfully invisible but still, kind of, visible. Translucent if you will. Nothing particularly special, simply a carcass housing an internal battle which a) I didn’t know was a battle and b) I didn’t really have the vocabulary to express. Then I discovered the words and it was like everything made sense. For the first time in my life I could relate to something. An actual thing that existed - as opposed to me just blaming myself for being so bloomin’ weird. But let me assure you that wasn’t the magical fairy tale ending, life is never like that. It’s been a very rough ride and it still is. Since this epiphany I have experienced some very very dark times. It took a long time for my own parents to acknowledge my conditions – that was quite tough. I’ve been on those 6 months (sometimes longer) waiting lists to access counselling, had enough CBT to probably teach it and have also been on and off antidepressants (I’m on them at the moment and probably will be for a while). I’ll be honest counselling hadn’t really benefitted me until recently, maybe it’s because the circumstances are different this time? Or maybe it’s because that I have an AMAZING counsellor (the previous ones I’ve had have also been lovely – I know that I am quite lucky in that sense)? Or maybe it’s because I don’t have a time limit on this particular counselling (as I’m sure some of you know services usually offer a limited amount of sessions which aren’t always enough)? Whichever reason it may be, it is working at the moment. And I am so so so grateful for that.
Mental health is definitely a ‘swings and roundabouts’ kind of thing. I absolutely would not be who I am today if I did not have my conditions. They’re not even that big of a deal really, I’m sure the fact that I hate butter on sandwiches (but seriously why do people do that?!) will be more shocking to some. To me they’re just a characteristic, like my eyes being a bluey/grey/not-really-sure colour. Part and parcel of being me. In a way it’s like looking at the world through rose tinted glasses, my view is distorted in comparison to how others may see things. Everything is magnified. And that counts for both good and bad. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like being in a tunnel. The darkness is suffocating and everywhere you look it’s black. Then when you think all is lost, a tiny flicker of light appears. And it is the most amazing light you have ever seen in your life ever. A teeny tiny flicker is suddenly the most beautiful thing you’ve ever laid eyes on. I suppose in a way you can’t truly experience the good things if you haven’t experienced the bad things. It makes you appreciate the good moments. Whenever I’m in a good mood I try to embrace the positivity as much as I can. Key phrase being try. I really really really reallllllyyyyy wish that I could appreciate those good moments. But the truth is that I spend that time waiting for the point in which it all gets ripped away from me. When I go back to square one again. It’s almost as though one half of me is waiting for the opportunity to tell the other half ‘I told you so!’ Yes it is more than likely that those menacing companions of mine (shout out to Anxiety and Depression) will tap me on the shoulder. But I’m always ready and waiting. Waiting to take part in our traditional battles - a tug of war which usually ends up with me falling into the black abyss. That is until I climb back out. Which I will. I always do.
In the midst of all this madness, I am incredibly driven by the need to help others. Others who are also experiencing these crazy conditions, which statistics suggest are more common than people may think but for some strange reason just aren’t spoken about. How odd that is. It baffles me it really does. You see with mental health, it needs to be spoken about. Or else the only time it is ever a topic for discussion is within the own mind of those who have such issues and I know from experience that that just doesn’t always work out (shout out to Anxiety and Depression again *insert wave emoji here*). Giving it a public platform in a sense decreases the pedestal it sits on within our own minds. Because it’s out there it’s less loud and crowded in here (‘here’ being our minds). In my case that’s where Fixers comes in. You see little ol’ me was able to make a film* (literally a IRL film! It’s ridiculous I honestly can’t even believe it) and I chose to focus on mental health (how apt right?) and I really hope that it helps that it can work towards breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health – even if it’s just one person. Because let’s be honest mental health problems suck at times, they really do. And one thing that isn’t nice is having those who are in ignorance making it worse. ‘I mean… Have you actually tried to… you know… not be sad?’ Hold up *insert name here* lemme just turn on the happy switch – ah there we go all better now! (Please tell me you detect the sarcasm). I also wanted to give a human face to numerous conditions. So often they are just words on a piece of paper or a screen and people tend to forget that these conditions affect real, live, human beings. In addition, the film was also for people like you. To hopefully send you some positivity because one can never have too much of that stuff. More valuable than gold I’d say. Because you are stronger than you will ever realise. This is also your daily reminder that you are not alone.
Please watch my film and let me know if it does what I hoped it would because it would be really awkward if it didn’t and my little plug there would essentially have just fell flat on its face…
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