I was thinking of what I could write for World Mental Health Day. I brainstormed all sorts of posts but nothing felt ‘right’. Then I was scrolling my own Instagram and saw what I posted last year and I remembered exactly where I posted it, and I remember exactly how I felt.
Last year around the time of World Mental Health day my mental health took a plummet, not a dramatic one, but panic attacks started creeping back into my life and I was extremely lonely. This combination led me to not really going out and I was extremely anxious and in a low mood for the most part of the year. On the outside though, across my social media, to anyone who asked at university, I was putting on the image of being strong.
I saw my relapse, as weak. I didn’t admit to anyone what was going on in my head but I was blogging about the importance of speaking out and admitting you need help isn’t weak.
I saw last year as a bit of a write-off. Then I looked at the bigger picture and realised what I had achieved. Despite any struggles I have with my mental health, or any struggles I may have in the future I can achieve. I found a ‘bucket list’ I wrote saved on my computer from 2013. When I was 17, in the midst of CBT for my anxiety these were/are my goals before I kick the bucket….
Own a Mulberry handbag.
Own a pair of YSL tribute heels.
Fall in love.
Be bought flowers.
Go to university
Have a kitchen with an aga and island.
Have a job I absolutely love.
Go back to New York and do the Gossip Girl tour
Go to Disneyworld.
Go on a date to the zoo
Have lots of babies.
Be really really happy.
Not be scared anymore.
Have someone tell me they’re proud of me.
The ones in bold are things I’ve achieved. Just four years later. When I was seventeen I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and I genuinely did believe I wouldn’t achieve these things. The ‘not be scared anymore’ goal is the one that hit me the most. It really upsets me now looking back that I felt that my mental illness would make me scared for the rest of my life and that nobody would ever be proud of me. That was never going to be the case.
Mainly, I’ve made myself proud. I am now being the person I needed when I was seventeen and writing bucket lists where my main goal was to be happy. In the last few years I’ve :
- Had a gap year where I worked full time and saved a fair amount of money meaning I’ve been pretty self-sufficient whilst at university. I also attended a Channel Four ‘4 Talent’ day, which involved a lot of networking which was a huge exposure!
- Met my boyfriend and we’ve now been together almost three years
- Been on two!!!! Holidays abroad without my parents which is a HUGE thing for me
- Moved out of home to university in Liverpool defying my own expectations and finished both first and second year with a first class
- Become a fundraising champion for Student Minds and raised £300 by walking a marathon
- Contributed to this BBC article on Student mental health
- Started a Student Minds group at my university and ran my first event. Through this, I have meetings with various people across the university. When in the depths of my anxiety I wouldn’t even go into rooms I didn’t know let alone talk to people in the way I do now.
- Attended Time To Change’s Story Camp
But mostly I am really really happy, at university, in love, I’ve been bought flowers, I’m not scared anymore and other people are proud of me but most importantly I am so proud of myself.
Something people often ask is if you could somehow get rid of your mental illness, would you? The answer for me is no, without my struggle I wouldn’t have ever started Our Rose or mental health campaigning and it is now my main passion in life.
Sometimes it takes days like World Mental Health day for you to take a step a back and realise just how far you’ve come at the same time as battling a mental illness.
If you’re in the midst of it right now I hope you know you’re alone and the good days are coming and hopefully one day you won’t be scared anymore either.
Maybe, taken five minutes now to sit and write down everything you’ve achieved despite your struggle.
Lots of love, Rose x