Updated: Dec 23, 2020
It seemed fitting for CONNECT - Mental Health's first BLOG Post to be my Mental Health Story. I hope that by reading this you will understand my journey, where my passion for mental health came from, and my passion for reducing stigma and educating others about mental ill health.
The thought of moving away from home was difficult. With such a small family, and a tight net group of friends from school, I worried what my life would be like. I was so anxious about moving away, starting my life over, leaving everything behind. I had the fear that everyone would forget about me, my relationship would end due to the distance, and I would be all alone.
My immediate family is quite small. Me, my mum and my dad. My parents separated when I was 4 years old, and I grew up living with my mum. I always had a great relationship with my dad, visiting on holidays and occasions. Despite living in different countries, I always felt so close to him. When it came to moving into university, my dad made the trip to come help me move in. I think it was more so to stop my mum from crying at her little hen flying the coup, but nonetheless he was there.
The first year of my university chapter was not a usual one. I have never been one for going out, getting drunk and dancing badly in a nightclub. Despite my happy and outgoing exterior, I am more than content with just sitting in the house with a movie and some junk food. I was isolating myself - without realising it. I feared that if I was having a great time, I'd feel guilty for enjoying my time, when my family and friends are missing me at home.
I got caught up in an unhealthy relationship between 2015 and 2017. I was in love, or at least that's what I told myself. It didn't matter what anyone else said, I was right. He was perfect; caring, loving, just perfect. I was delusional. Really he'd been emotionally abusing me, sponging off all of my money, controlling me. But you don't see this when you are in love.
I didn't come to my senses until October of 2017, when I was given a reality check for how I should be treated, and how I deserved to feel.
It was mid-term break of my second year of university, and I had travelled to see my dad. He was always so excited to see me, and hear about how I was getting on at university. 'The first in my bloodline to go to university' he'd always say. Little did I know that this trip would be one of the most memorable in my life - unfortunately not in a good way.
He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - life expectancy was only 1 year (without chemo). My world shattered into a million pieces. My dad was my rock.
The next few months were I began to notice a difference in myself. I couldn't concentrate on anything. I couldn't sleep or eat. Every waking moment was spent wondering how he was feeling, was he ok? Every phone call that I would get from my mum, I would wonder 'Is this it?' before answering the phone. I began using the university counselling services to help me manage my worries and fears, control my workload and speak out about how I was feeling. I just felt so closed off from the world and I couldn't talk to my mum about it as she was going through enough as it was. She gave up her job, moved countries, put everything on hold to become my dad's full-time carer. I will never be able to thank her enough. Everyone knew what I was going through and I was sick of hearing "I am sorry to hear what you are going through, If you need anything I am here." It's meant to be comforting and reassuring, but it just became so repetitive, that I was always served with a constant reminder of what was happening in my life and how shit I felt. Counselling, whilst it didn't help my recovery long term, it was the best part of my week. I came out of my sessions with a big weight off my shoulders, and knowing that someone cared.