Thursday, 5 February 2015


I'm not talking about beauty today, today I want to talk about mental health. Today marks Time to Change's #TimeToTalk Day. They want people to spend just five minutes talking about mental health to end the stigma faced by those who suffer with mental health issues.

I uploaded a video talking about this, and in it I talked briefly about my own struggles with anxiety and depression and I wanted to use this blog post to open up a bit more about it. As a trigger warning this blog will talk about anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts.

I'd always been an anxious child but when I was 15 something changed and I was unable to go to school everyday. I felt sick whenever I thought about doing something out of my comfort zone. A trip to the doctors led to my first experience of any stigma. I was told that the reason I felt sick and cried all the time was because I had bad skin, and that was why I didn't want to go to school. Exactly what every 15-year-old wants to hear, right? She prescribed the pill, which I refused to take because the side effects seemed to be exactly what I dealing with already. Incidentally, I went on the pill later in life and it made everything so much worse.

Eventually I found a better doctor and he sent me for counselling. I liked my counsellor but she seemed to think all my problems could be solved if I started to eat breakfast. At this point I wasn't eating at all at school and only eating once I got home. This pattern of starvation and then mild binging when I got home meant I dropped a lot of weight. I still have problems with food and am very careful about what I eat in case it makes me sick or triggers any IBS symptoms. Those two things  have been the things that have been on my mind almost everyday for 6 years. I constantly feel nauseous as a 'side effect' of my anxiety and worry so much about being sick around people I panic, and then feel sicker, and then panic more. I'm not sure what triggered it but I was sick a few times of the summer after my 15th birthday and I think that's what led to all of this.

Everything calmed down a bit at college and most of university, and I even went to Canada on a study abroad, something 15-year-old me couldn't have imagined. I still felt anxious and sick every day but I could deal with it better. When I was in my third year of university it all came back. I only went to one lecture in my last term of university and I stopped travelling on public transport alone. This meant that my boyfriend had to travel down from Edinburgh and I couldn't return the favour. I will always be grateful for him not giving up on me, then or now. I had counselling through the university's wellbeing service (she told me I'd have it for life if I didn't immediately drop all my safety behaviours) and an NHS service (who were great but I only got 6 sessions which wasn't enough). I finally found a doctor who understood and I tried anti-depressents but they weren't for me, although they did get me through my graduation.

Over the last few months of 2014 I got worse and the fear of going outside and being scared of being sick became a bigger deal than being outside. It was at this point I was diagnosed with agoraphobia as well. I couldn't keep up a job offer in my dream career and felt increasingly useless. Depression has been another huge part of my anxiety and while I don't believe I could ever go through with ending my life I've battled with suicidal thoughts throughout the last 6 years. I regularly have blue days where staying in bed as seemed like the best option.

However, I now believe that I am on the road to recovery. Through Anxiety UK I've found a counsellor who believes in me and treats me like an intelligent grown up. I have great support from my boyfriend, family and friends. I have up days, and down days. The last two weeks have been tough, but I'm putting that behind me and continuing up.

I'm lucky in the sense that the stigma I have come across has been a minority of people and most people I've spoken to have been understanding and even shared their own stories. It helped me to feel less alone.

No one should be made to feel alone or small, that is why the Time To Change campaign is important.


  1. Thank you for this very honest account of what it is like to have a mental health illness. I can relate to a lot of what you have written. I hope you are getting the help that you need.
    All the best.