I have battled with anxiety since I was a child and felt very, very lonely, even though I was surrounded by people who cared very much for me. I have to say this now, that it doesn’t matter how in life you appear to someone, the inner battles can be immense, and eat away at your soul. You never plan to hurt those you love and never mean to punish them, you love them dearly, but the anguish overwhelms and becomes too much to bear, your mind becomes a prisoner in your body.
I grew up in a small island community with my grandmother and had an amazing childhood, with many amazing memories. I know my anxiety partly stemmed from dealing with the mental and physical trauma from a disruptive contact with my family, leaving me very anxious about further trauma and unexpected contact. I found it difficult growing up in a small community without what appeared to me as a regular family, leading to me becoming quite despondent from an early age. I remember spending a lot of time alone crying when I was a child. In my teens, I struggled very hard to fit in and be loved, “in my eyes”, sometimes adopting irresponsible behaviour, thus leading to my battle with anxiety increasing. This is when I first thought of wanting to die.
No positive mental health services have ever really been available to me in the islands, they are even very limited on the main island, making it difficult to face life in a crisis. I have had my life improved by medication, which can allow me to function a fraction better, but the thoughts of suicide and not wanting to go on never leave me. The anxiety can build up to exploding point, depending on my daily encounters, and can result in a strong urge to die. I am fortunate to have an extremely good relationship with my husband, David, and I am able to share with him how I feel, especially since he suffered with depression himself. I find I constantly walk a thin line of surviving, or not surviving.
I have sought to improve my confidence as best I can and be very proactive in my self-care, choosing to change direction in my life to maintain a better balance with my mental health. Never be afraid to take difficult steps to change your life if it protects your mental health, no job or lifestyle is too insignificant if it maintains your health, we are all an important part of life. It is only now I am older that I place less value on material things and stand up for being different.
This is not a life you choose, or a choice you make to punish anyone, and it’s not anyone’s fault. You can have the most amazing family and friends, but the overwhelming grief you feel is pure torture. As I have become older, I have learned to become less hidden about how I am feeling, as hiding makes the feelings so intense that I become physically unwell too. I go through battles of how I would choose to die and the fear that causes, balanced with the agoraphobia caused by anxiety and wanting to function normally.
I do believe “talking” is a way forward, balanced with medication initially, as suffering with anxiety or depression is a genuine chronic illness. Services are inconsistent, and something which has pushed me forward to share my story and advocate for a better future for those in anguish, and encourage everyone to talk, and share their feelings with someone they trust.
The following services offer confidential support from trained staff and volunteers. You can talk about anything that is troubling you, no matter how difficult:
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Samaritans are there to listen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it’s always free to call from any landline or mobile phone.
- Call 111 to talk to NHS 24’s mental health hub.
- Call 0800 83 85 87 to talk to Breathing Space. The service is open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday — 6am Monday) and 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday — Thursday).
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, text “YM” if you are under 19.