2 years ago my life changed forever now looking back it was the best thing to happen to me, but back then in a life that feels so distant now I wasn’t okay and I want to share with you that it’s okay to not be okay…
I’m sat here watching a show called ‘The Stranger on the Bridge‘. I wanted to do a Blog post for Mental Health Awareness Week and didn’t really know where to start, now I do because this show brings all the hard emotions back up of a dark time. Before the days of Couponing and running my page I worked in a bank. I was 19 and had succeeded in everybody’s eyes by becoming a banking manger and fulfilling their high hopes for my life. I didn’t go to Uni as I felt it was a waste of money and nothing really grabbed me. For all that know me I worked night and day to get that job I was so money driven, I pushed away every emotion and feeling of wanting to be creative and pursue a career in acting or singing as I had wanted to throughout my childhood. I was doing what everyone else wanted me to do in life (get a sensible job) I gave up on my dreams and lived in the ‘real world’. This was fine for the first 5 months until you added in the toxic relationship I had surrounded myself with, he didn’t support my career simply for the fact I earned more money and I guess you could say he was jealous of my success. He was extremely clever on how he went around this by constantly belittling me and pushing me into a dark world I would be stuck in for the next year.
Debt is one of the reasons I started saving-money, I have a addictive personality and for me finding something to fixate on like couponing was pure escapism for me. It was my own talent, no one else around me could do and I would obsess over finding the best deal. I was diagnosed with Anxiety & Depression 4 months after my panic attacks started. The only way I can find to describe a panic attack is like a rollercoaster the feeling of nervousness in your stomach mixed with adrenaline turns into a fear and what may be a high for some feels like you need hospital treatment to us. There are many times I have honestly believed I have been suffering a heart attack and to live in that fear is silly. My main anxiety is being sick, at it’s worst I couldn’t leave the house in case I was sick, I couldn’t get on a bus or go to work. I always need to know where the toilets & exits are (safe places).
For ages it felt like there was no answer as to why I was having all these episodes and I felt as though I couldn’t be happy my mind was telling me I deserved to be un-happy. It wasn’t until nearly a year later once I had left my ex that I truly realised why I had been so ill and weak. For the first time someone said it wasn’t my fault and that felt like the world had been lifted off my shoulders, for me I had been carrying around everyone’s weight for so long blaming myself for being so ill. My ex was the cause of this I have no scars from a physically abusive relationship but I have many from a emotionally abusive one. It’s also a sore subject when talking about emotionally abusive one’s as so many people go through this and don’t speak out. I honestly didn’t even class it as abusive until I had left and my councillor explained it to me and how he had manipulated me into debt and how he had caused my depression e.t.c
Not being able to leave the house was the worst part for me as I had been so social before and I felt completely dependant on my ex for income and supporting our household. I would lie in bed all day not doing a thing because that’s all I could do, I was always so exhausted and feeling ill, but one day I left the bed. Then the next I went downstairs and the next in the garden and so on until I found myself going to the shop everyday to buy a sausage roll. I saw this as a reward if I could make it to the shop then I could have my sausage roll. Finances were tight and when I felt more up to it. I looked into Couponing and other thrifty ways to save, it got me to shops talking and interacting with people. I was alone most days in the house so talking to the shop assistant was sometimes the only contact I would have. Which brings me to perceptions everybody has a image of someone with metal health issues whether you have experienced it or not. None of my friends could process my weird behaviour or why I was so fascinated with couponing and had started a facebook page. I lost many friends during this time but now I realise how rubbish they really were as a friend. Time moved on and I continued to live this life of fear due to not wanting anything to change. One thing with anxiety is the fear of change so leaving my ex and my life there was impossible as I saw no life elsewhere.
I started talking to Mitch (my current partner)about 6 months into this patch of my life it was actually to do with the page and running a competition, at this stage I would be posting all my little shops I had done and any deals I could find online I had just reached 7k followers. Talking to Mitch gave me escapism once again and I could be whoever I wanted to be so I did tell a few white lies… I was working at next at the time but told him I worked in Head Office, I don’t know why I wasn’t ashamed of working in a shop I feel I just didn’t want him to think less of me by having a more basic job to what I had before. I missed being Miss.Independant and wanting to be successful again. The thing is with Mental Health we all say things and do things out of character not because were ‘crazy’ because were protecting ourselves and at the time feel it’s the best thing to do. Even now I will over analyse things and act out of character because my mind will relapse and remember old habits.
Meeting Mitch gave me the confidence once again to be me, stand up to my ex and most importantly walk away. Once I had found out his infidelity to our relationship a switch had flicked and I was determined to leave. I hate cheaters and still to this day my ex makes everyone believe I was the one cheating with Mitch which quite frankly now doesn’t bother me. To know that he manipulated me into £7k worth of his debt, made me leave my job, hate my family all for his gain makes me see what a lucky escape I did have. Being in that much debt at 20 wasn’t great and the following months after were the worst realising I was stuck paying off his debt. I fell back into a dark phase of Depression even questioning my faith and purpose in life. All the while having a rock of a partner by me (Mitch) and having my page grow so quickly I think at this stage we were at 30k again it was still just a passion I could escape to.
So I feel I have been talking a lot so let’s fast forward to my treatment, Counselling didn’t work for me I felt it very patronising and a waste of time just talking to someone I could do that already. Tablets they worked for a few months but made me really angry and more anxious so I gave them up after 7 months. Hypnotherapy was and still is the only way I can respond, I had to go privately for this it costs around £50 a session but if all else fails for you please try it, I guarantee you will start to see improvements. I did about 8 sessions over 3 months before I felt I didn’t need them and confident enough to deal with panic attacks and over come them.
So many people say ‘It get’s better’ truthfully yes it becomes bearable, you learn to control it and not let it define you. I do still get them when work is stressful or I do something scary but I don’t let them control me anymore. Many probably don’t even know I have Mental Health issues or have been through such a dark place because I come across so confident. I put this down to my faith, support network and you guys! Without my little empire of Money-Saving I generally think I would of stayed in that horrible place with my ex. Having random people from around the nation tell you how much you have impacted their lives and how your advice has helped someone way above your years is surreal. I’m only 21 I’m no expert but I feel I have a talent and a passion that I want to share with everyone to help them. Over the past year since doing this full-time I have met some incredible people and had the most amazing journey. Reaching 100k followers on Facebook completed my year and I feel overwhelmed so many people follow my videos, posts, blogs and more. I’m finally being creative once again in a way I never imagined. Everyday I wake up so grateful for everything I have and the experiences I have gone through to get here today.
Without being in debt, and having all this uncertainty in my life I found something beautiful I can do to help so many people. Coming 2nd in the Blog Awards cemented this feeling of success once again. I honestly didn’t even care I didn’t get 1st, firstly because I knew how rubbish my websites were and secondly because throughout this journey I have been told by numerous people from ex, his family, friends, colleagues, other businesses that I would fail. That I would never become anything or that running a money-saving page was stupid. So to have a panel of judges say that my creation was worthy of a national award brought me to tears. All the pain, hard work and battling in my mind I had done had finally paid of and I had recognition of my journey.
So my message to you all is don’t judge yourself on someone else’s journey. Don’t judge someone who is having a hard time because you simply don’t know what is happening in their life. Don’t be scared to ask for help, help does not make you weak and I hope we are finally breaking the mold of a negative stigma attached to mental health. There are great services and people you can talk to, you are NOT alone and no matter how dark it may seem. I promise you one day you will live again, you will see the world in a different light once more and you will be happy. No one will ever be 100% ‘fixed’ but that’s okay, don’t stress about fitting in. With the new Tory government I am really not hopeful much will change with wait times to see a specialist or the treatment in general. I hope from all of us speaking out, making it a known subject and how much work needs to go in to fixing the system in time, they will change. And finally if you see someone who looks like they need help…talk to them… sometimes conversation is all they may need to see light in a very dark time. I would recommend watching ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’ on Channel 4 as to how much just talking to someone can impact their lives.
This has been really hard for me to write and not something I feel comfortable sharing so please be nice in the comments. The purpose of this is to share my experience so others can relate and find the confidence to ask for help. If you would like to know anymore information about Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 you can view the details here.