I feel like I have needed to write this post for a while now to almost acknowledge and to be able to admit to myself that I suffer mental health difficulties. This is only a brief post as there is so much to talk about when it comes to mental health and mental illness. I’ve been in denial for a while and it’s taken me almost two years to reach a point where I feel able to put into words what I have experienced. I’ve been reluctant to share it so publicly but I feel like if I write it down then I will be able to let it go and hopefully move on from it. I was diagnosed with Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) almost two years ago when a series of stressful life events led to a mental breakdown. I have been prescribed medication, been under the care of a Psychiatrist and I have also had a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help me deal with my Anxiety. It’s hard to put into words how Depression and Anxiety make me feel. When I am depressed I have no desire or motivation to do anything. Some people might think it’s being lazy but believe me it runs much deeper than that. I have never been a lazy person and before my mental breakdown I was very driven and ambitious. It is very difficult to get out of bed and almost impossible to get in the shower when I am depressed. I can’t explain why but I just can’t do it sometimes. I have no energy, my limbs feels heavy and I literally feel empty inside. I don’t feel anything emotionally and I can spend days just lying in bed, sleeping. Anxiety is different and probably what I have struggled with the most. My Anxiety affects me in different ways. The hardest thing for me is being constantly worried and having a feeling that something bad is going to happen. I have a knot in my stomach every day and constantly feel on edge. I struggle to let myself be happy as I fear that something bad will happen if I do. I also experience intrusive thoughts. I plan to talk about this in further detail another time but I basically have horrible, disturbing thoughts that can plague my mind 24/7. They are completely irrational but when I am in that mindset I truly believe the things I am thinking, even when I have been told they are not true. This has led to suicidal thoughts because it is so draining having a constant internal battle and having negative thoughts playing on a loop. Although I have not been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) I believe this could be a trait of OCD or a form of OCD referred to as “Pure O”. I also have a bit of Social Anxiety. I find it hard to be around groups of people as I can never relax especially when alcohol is involved. I am pretty much tee total now and I only ever feel safe and relaxed when I’m at home. Many Anxiety sufferers struggle to leave the house and my home really is my safe haven. It’s difficult to arrange plans with friends and family because I never know day to day how I am going to feel. I have also been off work on and off over the last two years as a result. I am lucky that I have a good support network and an amazing husband who has been there for me through it all. The one thing I would say is that talking about it helps. If you are reading this and can relate, then please know that there is help available even though you might think there is no hope. I get it. I have been there. Talk about it with someone you trust, go and see your GP and do what you need to do to get through the day. I didn’t think I would survive it but I have. I still have struggles but I am able to manage it a lot better with help from medication and therapy. The funny thing is there are people who know me who have no idea about my struggles. That’s the thing about mental health, a lot of people put on a mask or hide behind a smile even when they are suffering. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life and mental illness does not discriminate. Right now, I am feeling well and a lot better than I have done for a long time. Long may it continue. Please drop me an email if you ever need to talk to someone who understands. Laura x