Sunday 27 September 2015


Readers talk frankly and in confidence about their experience of mental health problems…

Eloise says:
My biggest problem is Generalised Anxiety Disorder, but I have depression too. Counselling controlled the anxiety for a while, and meditation and a less stressful lifestyle all helped. I then moved to college and things got worse - I was having panic attacks almost every day if I hadn't finished work - so every maths lesson, basically. My physical health was also declining and I felt like I had no control over any part of my life. Now, I feel like I am walking a knife-edge between being OK and being back where I was then. Anxiety affects every aspect of my life in ways people don't even understand. It means I have to plan where I go, what I do and have an escape route for everything. I also have to cope with people's ignorance and comments when I'm having a panic attack. There's prejudice too… both of my parents have mental health issues; Mum has depression and anxiety and Dad has depression and asperger's. As well as coping with my own problems, I try to protect them too… and that brings me to my biggest coping strategy - helping people! My anxiety lessens if I am helping others and have a purpose, so that's what I do!

Linz says:
I went to the doctor at about fourteen with suspected anaemia, but the tests came back negative and they suggested it could be anxiety. I didn't think much about it until uni when I began to get lots of symptoms and went back to the doctor - he said at once that my anxiety was through the roof. My heart was beating at twice its usual rate and my hands were shaking. I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and mild depression and given the option of medication or CBT (a therapy which can help you to change your outlook and beliefs). I chose CBT and regular sessions really helped; it took a big, BIG step to turn up at that first session but the therapist was very kind and I am so glad I did! Now if I get anxious, I remember what I learned in the sessions and it helps me in so many ways. If anyone is struggling with the same things, I highly recommend trying CBT  therapy.

Mariel says:
I have real problems with my moods and this seems to be linked to my periods. For part of the month, everything is fine, and then I get very moody and short-tempered and it's almost like being a different person. I can see myself doing and saying things that are mean and unreasonable but I cannot seem to stop it. My friends are fed up with it, and my family must despair of me because I know I am a nightmare to live with at that time. Then, for a few days of the month, that nasty streak evaporates and I am ultra-sensitive instead… the slightest comment can make me cry. My mum has been trying to get me to go to the doctors but I don't want to go, I suppose I don't think they will take it seriously. But deep down I know that I will have to do something, because it is not getting any better and it seriously makes my life a misery.

Alima says:
I had a bout of depression last year after leaving secondary school and I suddenly understood what people mean when they say they can't see the point of anything anymore. I wasn't just feeling a bit 'sad', I was totally cut off, my arms and legs felt like concrete. The feelings of sadness and darkness engulfed me and until I was numb and everything I had planned fell through my fingers. There was no possibility of going to college… I could barely get out of bed. My mum took me to the doctor and I was put on anti-depressants and given counselling. It took a while for things to change, but once the meds were right the depression did lift. I have just started sixth form college and it feels like a second chance to live my life. This time last year, I couldn't see a future at all.

Names have been changed at the request of those contributing.

Awesome artwork by reader Claire: many thanks!

Cathy says:
Thank you to Eloise, Linz, Mariel and Alima for their honesty in talking about such a difficult subject. We are used to going to the doctor for help with a physical problem, but asking for help with mental health issues can be much harder. Have YOU ever struggled with these kind of problems? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

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