Huddle & Cuddle
Set up by Sophie over at One Unique, Huddle and Cuddle is a campaign to help raise awareness of mental health issues by using the means of social media. Influencers have teamed up to help this campaign and to spread the word, allowing people to never feel alone by sharing their experiences with you. Huddle and Cuddle wants people to get involved by talking to people, whether it be an influencer, family member or a helpline about their thoughts and challenges they may come across.
I was recently scrolling through Twitter (as you do) and I came across Sophie asking for people with experience of mental health to write about it. Now this isn’t usually something I would ever consider, for two reasons. One I blog about books primarily. Two I’ve never truly opened up about my experience with my mental health and I wasn’t too sure how you guys would take it. All that being said, I just felt this need – this urge that perhaps it was time to travel back and relive that part of my life. Although it was a horrific time for me, I think it needs to be aired and if I can help someone out there, then I’m willing to share.
So here’s my journey guys, it’s a long one – (WARNING if you are easily triggered then maybe you’ll want to bow out now).
My first year of secondary school flew by without much cause for concern. I got my head down, made some friends and ended the year on a high.
I wish the same could be said about the following year. It started like any other, trying to find my way around the school like I was supposed to have memorized it the first time – yeah no – and easing myself back into school work. I began to have serious stomach pains a few months into the year, no clue what was causing it. I was in so much pain each morning that I cried getting dressed for school. Eventually we went to see the doctor and I was diagnosed with IBS and given medication. Weeks went by and I was in even more pain, I stopped going to school all together and had work sent home.
Another trip to the doctor and a different set of medication. Still no relief. Still no school. After the third time back and four months off school, the doctors finally did proper tests at the hospital. Turns out I had an infection called Helicobacter Pylori, that had caused an ulcer to form in my stomach, causing me severe pain. Finally I was given the correct medication and was on the right track.
After six months off school, I went back, I wish I hadn’t.
Everyone asked me questions, why have you been off, what’s wrong with you, I bet she just couldn’t be bothered to come in. I was harassed, called names, bullied. I stopped going to school after that and starting skipping school. My mum didn’t know at first. I’d go to the park and wait for hours until school was over, I hated it. Eventually she found out and tried to force me to go, I’d cry so hard, she’d give in.
This went on for so long, my mum barely spoke to me, my brother either ignored me or shouted at me. I began to feel very alone, I spent my days sleeping and my nights awake. My mum said I was a vampire, funny now.
I was severely depressed, I didn’t know it yet but I was spiraling lower and lower, until one day I had enough. I had some medication left from my ulcer and I took them, forty to be exact. I didn’t want to be here anymore.
I ended up in hospital, dazed and wondering what the hell was happening.
Shortly after my episode I was referred to CAMHS – Child And Adolescent Mental Health Service – and started some therapy sessions to help me cope. It did help, me and my mum started talking again and she tried to understand, but she’s stubborn, she still refuses to understand why I did it, that hurts.
I was also referred to a Bully Free Zone, a club for after school. After trying to adapt back to my old life in school, it was decided by my school that I would move on, they didn’t want me there anymore. I can’t say I blame them, but I was getting better and I believe it was the wrong choice.
I made a friend in my new school, a bad one. I would frequently skip school with her, because I didn’t have anyone else and I didn’t want to be alone. I knew it was wrong.
I got in trouble a lot and my mum hated me, she believes I did it to hurt her, still to this day. But I just wanted to be free, free from the crappy home life where I felt like no one cared.
I knew I was still depressed, I knew I was running away from it. I started having dark thoughts creeping in again and I was scared it would happen again.
I had to push myself, get out while I was still sane. So I decided to go to my Bully Free Zone and ended up meeting a guy there. He was just a friend to me. I met him one day with his friend and I liked the friend, the friend that ended up being my boyfriend, the friend that is now my husband, the father to my children, my rock, my life. Without Tom, I believe I would have gone backwards, he helped me breathe again, I felt loved.
When we had our son, I knew I had to fight it, I had to be braver for him, stronger. He was something to live for.
I developed severe anxiety when I was seventeen. I didn’t want to go out because I had bad thoughts about myself 24/7. I thought I was fat, ugly and not worthy. I thought people were looking at me, talking about me, I became housebound. Trapped with my own thoughts.
I was pushed to do some therapy and was referred for CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – and attended about ten sessions. Looking back on it now, CBT really did help me and I would highly recommend it if you’re feeling the same way. I started going out by myself and getting the bus into town. I taught myself to think differently about people. Why were they looking at me? Maybe they thought I was pretty or had my hair real nice. It doesn’t always have to be negative, you have to learn to love yourself and think differently!
Another thing that helped me was an online forum called Elefriends. It’s a place to talk to people who are in your situation and to support each other. Somewhere to be yourself and talk about your feelings WITHOUT judgment.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m all better now, I still have bad days, bad thoughts. Sometimes I’m great and sometimes I want to crumble and that’s OK! I’m allowed to be human and so are you.
We are all different kinds of people, imperfect and that’s freaking awesome!
I have my family, I have my close friends and I have my blogging community, I’m not alone anymore. Please don’t let yourself be!
I want to thank Sophie for allowing me to share my journey and being so supportive. You can find more information on the Huddle & Cuddle campaign here http://www.huddleandcuddle.com/ and their Twitter here https://twitter.com/huddleandcuddle