May is 2019 Mental Health Month - #4MIND4BODY.
I invited two of my Twitter friends to contribute a guest post for my blog, here, on any aspect of mental health they wished. Today, fellow novelist Allie Turner writes about her own mental health journey, which began when she had barely progressed from being a toddler!
Here's her emotional and moving story
I guess things started to manifest themselves when I was very young, say around the age of 3 or 4. I was a very lonely child, anxious the majority of the time, scared of everything. I began being afraid of using public toilets, couldn’t use one outside of the house if there were crowds of people around. Nervous ticks then followed, funny little rituals I HAD to do, but I didn’t know why. They were compulsive. Suffice to say, I was very unhappy 99% of the time and exhausted.
Fast forward to my teenage years, and things hadn’t changed very much. But the layers that make up mental illness were increasing, and self-loathing kicked in, a layer of low self-esteem, another layer of days in bed because I just didn’t have anything to get up for, then a thick layer of black cloud, like icing on top of a very nasty tasting cake.
By the time I was 19, I had contemplated taking my own life twice. I felt worthless, constantly tired, ugly, and that no-one liked me. But I had been part of a theatre group for 18 months by then and meeting like-minded people had lifted me. Finally, there were people who did like me, although I found it hard to comprehend. I had spent nearly 20 years of my life thinking most of the human race thought I was a waste of skin. So my acting career took off, and so did my confidence, to a certain extent.
Of course, I was taking medication by this time, for depression. I had issues with coping with rejection still, and was desperate for everyone to like me, to be my friend. I had separation anxiety with those I liked, and who liked me. But there were still the roots of my problem in my life, the seeds planted in my brain from an early age, those highly toxic entities that were forever in the background, tied by blood. It wasn’t until much later on in life, I learnt that if I didn’t distance myself, I could be in serious trouble. But of course, by this time, the damage had already been done. My informative years were poisoned, and it was always something I was going to have to deal with. Sadly, it would never completely go away.
A critical illness in my mid thirties gave forth to another serious bout of depression. So crippling was this one, I was again on the verge of giving up on this life for good. I was tired. I was tired of being tired. I wanted a break from my brain. I wanted to go to sleep, and never wake up.
It took a good 18 months to get over that, but I had to have counselling twice a week, and regularly phoned my counsellor in between times when I just couldn’t cope any more. She was my life line, and when I was let down catastrophically by those that I had expected support from, she taught me how to cope with it, painful as it was. Ironically, the doctors had saved my life, then all I wanted to do was end it.
Now I am in my early 50’s and my mental health is manageable. But it’s something I respect, and never rest on my laurels about. It can and does appear at the most unlikely of times, so regular management is necessary. I am still aware of the toxicity lurking in the distant background, but now rise above it, and keep it at a very safe distance. It is called self preservation, and it is vital.
I learnt many years ago, that talking things through with someone, be it a counsellor, friend or family member is of utmost importance. Never suffer in silence, and always remember that it’s absolutely fine to NOT be ok.
Yes, I have self-harmed, yes I have had my addictions, some of which I still have to this day. They probably never really will leave me completely, but because I live through this crazy thing called life, I try and manage them on a day to day basis; some days are good, some are great, and some are crap. I have a high level of determination though, and plenty to live for; a tenacious nature.
I am very fortunate to have a small group of wonderful people around me, a gorgeous child I thought I would never be blessed with, and my pets bring love and light into my life daily. I run, I write, I play the piano, I am a keen archer, and I still act. All of those things bring me joy.
Do more of the things you love doing, take the time.
You are worth it, and don’t let anyone ever tell you any different.
Allie Turner books on Amazon:
In It For the Long Run
Harris the Hedgehog and his Running Adventure
Harris the Hedgehog: And the Christmas Day Run
Allie Turner, Twitter: