The third time I went to A&E to insist that something was wrong with my mental state, I went alone. It was a Monday, I had spent the weekend sobbing feeling overwhelmed at the thought of leaving my bed and I’d had enough. I’d been accompanied the last two times I went to A&E and having other opinions in the mix made me ignore my instincts and back down from what I was certain that I needed-to be hospitalised.
I don’t know where that certainty arose from. I’d never known anyone who went to a psychiatric hospital before, but I knew I wouldn’t make it through if I tried to heal myself on my own.
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It’s difficult to find any reason to be grateful for my mental illness. I could go on all day about shitty things that I have to put up with, but here are some things that people may not understand about the nature of both depression and anorexia. They don’t just make you sad and hungry. They affect almost every aspect of your life.
There are so many reasons that I’m not grateful for my mental illness. I’ll be writing about those soon, but I thought I’d start with the positives. It’s snowing outside and I’m feeling cosy and I don’t want to have to think about the ways which I’ve suffered. Adversity brings good things with it. And being ill has definitely improved my character in a number of ways.
Now that I’ve made my ebook “Who Cares? Life for an Irish Transgender Teen” free to the public (you can download the full thing here), I’ve decided to publish the chapters here on my website. Below is a chapter from this book which was published in April 2016.
Every now and again, I suffer from something that I like to refer to as a dark time. I believe that it may be a form of depression. However, I do not refer to it as such because it never lasts very long. These dark times began when I fell in love and lost my friends. This was a horrible time for me. I suffered greatly with these losses and the result was a new, darker mind. However, I never ran from this pain, I confronted it head on. When I couldn’t sleep because I was overthinking, I read my books. When I wanted to lock myself in my room, I listened to sad music. When I spent the day in bed I would watch movies that I loved. I would do what I needed to get through a day, telling myself that it was temporary. I would call my friends if I needed to talk. Turn my phone off if I needed to be alone. I would write in my journals as much as possible. I would look at old pictures and think about what I had lost. Watch YouTube videos of my idols. Go out and get coffee alone. Spend all of my money on sweets, diet coke and magazines. Take long, hot showers and baths. Read articles online about pain and loss.
When I’d had my heart broken at seventeen and began to suffer from a bout of intense depression, I was in the house more and more often. Neither of my sisters lived at home and I felt embarrassed confiding my heartbreak to my Mam, which meant that I sought refuge in Alfie an awful lot.
I often used to sit in the garden, writing in my diary or reading on an old picnic blanket. He’d run around the garden checking on our chickens, cats and horse but he’d always come back to check on me too. Sometimes he’d sit on the blanket with me, his head in my lap or he’d just watch me while I wrote furiously. He could be incredibly inconvenient, stepping on my diary or my book as I tried to distract myself from my pain, but I could never be mad at him for it.
This event occurred last week, but I wrote about it straight away. Hence when I refer to these occurrences as yesterday, last night etc. I’m actually referring to a week ago.
In the past I wouldn’t have spoken about stuff like this, believing that it makes me seem somehow weak if I confide my darkest moments in such a public way, but I’m learning not to think this way. Because to be honest, I don’t think I could really be weak if I tried to be. It’s time to own my darkest moments as just what they are, mere moments in this array of experiences that is my life.
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Ruth has suffered from mental illness and she’s not afraid to talk about it. I honestly don’t think I can put into words how inspiring a conversation with her can be. Knowing that mental health is an issue that really can’t be discussed enough, it was important to me to interview her. One wintery day, we met in a café so I could pick her brain.
I’m sure that everyone knows someone who suffers from anxiety. It’s not a new condition by any means. It’s defined as a type of fear that’s usually associated with the thought of a threat or something being wrong, but it can also arise from something that is happening right now. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting forty million adults aged 18 or older. These conditions are highly treatable yet only one third of those suffering will actually receive the correct treatment. I met Isabelle on the first week of college. We got to chatting and we discovered that we have a lot in common. A similar sense of humour, a similar outlook on human rights issues and a love for Marilyn Monroe. Isabelle is someone that I greatly admire. People seem to foolishly expect that an anxiety disorder is an easy thing to spot in a person, but this is not the case with Isabelle. She’s a gorgeously kind, bubbly person whose personality shines through when you talk to her. She works hard, socialises and lives an overall very glamorous life. I had a lot of questions. And I was so delighted that she was eager to answer them. What I discovered only made me admire her more.
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