For people suffering with mental ill health they have a huge fight on their hands on a daily basis as they struggle for well being, as if this wasn’t enough, they also have to deal with the ongoing stigma and negative stereotypes surrounding mental health. So when a person does decide to fight back and win back their personal self and autonomy they are risking running the gauntlet of stigma and stereotyping as they introduce their journey to the world. One of the growers Lea who is involved in our ‘Get growing Great Lever’ project is one such person who has suffered and fought back against both her condition and the negative stereotypes attached to people with mental ill health. Here is Lea’s account in her own words.
This is my journey about living with the invisible illness and my diagnosis of a Mood Disorder & BPD traits of February 2013, I wanted to write about my journey as this helps to stop stigma and discrimination that’s attached to mental ill-health and this will also help raise awareness. I’m as normal as any other individual out there, who has or hasn’t got an emotional ill-health condition, I think this is why it has taken me so long to write this, as I needed to find the right words, also I want people get to know me as a person first before telling everyone about the condition I have, so that people can make their own minds up about me.
As a child there were a lot of family dynamics, childhood traumas and then when I hit my teenager years I went through almost 10 years of domestic abuse, going through these difficult years, I began to use certain drugs to help numb the pain that I was suffering, yes that was wrong but at time it was my safe place. I grow up in a difficult surrounding, but I believe it has made me the person I am today, I’ve experienced difficulties but I’ve learned to develop self-awareness which to me was such a gift to have learned.
In the winter of 2013 I hit rock bottom with really bad depression, I was depressed for almost 7 months, it was like someone had pulled me inside out and I was viewing the world differently, like the black dog followed me everywhere and sadly I felt so bad I didn’t want to be here anymore, before the depression I have manic & impulsive episodes and what happens in these episodes is I take on too much, spin to many plates from being a mum, wife, student, running a business, setting up clubs, doing others rolls, spending money, racing thoughts, sleepless nights then when this happens I crash and burn out! I got the help from psychiatry department and they referred me to see a psychologist, that’s where I was diagnosed with a Mood Disorder & BPD traits, to get diagnosed was like a weight had been lifted because I’d been suffering for over 17 years. I had started CBT therapy for 6 months which was to look at my triggers, protective factors and living in the moment. Over the past 17 months I’ve started to look at oneself more and to love myself too. I started walking 3 days a week which can be difficult sometimes because I have a pain in my hip but I keep going, I’ve have an interest in photography too, it has opened my mind taking photos as I’m a believer photographers view the world differently and this has brought out my creative side, both of these have become my therapy which have helped me loads. Also April 2014 I became to get involved in growing fruit and veg thanks to the help of a local project, this became my haven somehow growing helped me a lot, especially when times got really hard for me, I could just go out into my garden spend time out there and this would have an empowering effect on my mind, it kept me in the here and now and has reduced some of my symptoms, also just looking at what I’ve created and I was quite pleased because I was teaching my children something too.
I’d like Thank to my husband and children for helping me in my darker days, but through the darkness, there is always light. I would also like to thank the people who have helped me back then when things got a little difficult for me. Over the years I’ve met some incredible people old and new, I will continue to meet positive and remarkable people. Having a good network is important along with a good routine, healthy lifestyle etc, but as I know it can be difficult as there are possibilities that I can have relapses. I will make my journey living with the invisible illness a positive one. I have good friends and family! For the here and now is to enjoy being with family and friends, continue to network with new people, run my wedding business and enjoy my hobbies such as walking, photography and growing also to volunteer for a projects that I love! The plans for the future is finish to off my education and possibly go into teaching within the community. Furthermore not to be afraid to ask for help when I need it x