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The year my parents separated was the year my whole world completely crashed and to say my mental health suffered was an understatement. I went from being a severely athletic young girl who loved her body and everything that she was to a complete hermit who hated any sort of interaction with the world and more importantly, herself. I began to lock myself in my room every day and just sat there in the dark crying for hours on end. I started to overthink everything and always found a way to blame myself for what had happened and thought of ways I could have stopped it from happening.

It was not my fault, it had nothing to do with me, I know that now.

This led to being diagnosed with clinical depression. I shut everyone out, even my own mother. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone or even get text messages from people, I didn’t want to go to any of my training sessions, I just didn’t want to be in this world anymore. I felt worthless, hopeless and empty. I felt like this for more than 3 years. But a day came when I saw all my friends out enjoying their life & I was just stuck at home (by choice) hating everything and everyone. I was missing out on my early teenage years. That’s when I knew it was time to get help, and as soon as possible too. As soon as I started counselling, I quit. No joke, the first day there I decided it just wasn’t for me. I went for a day and had the attitude that no one knew how I felt, that they hadn’t been through what I was going through and that they wouldn’t be able to help me but I was so so wrong.

I gave it a second go and it is honestly the best decision I have ever made. I went every single day for two years, every single day. It became something I even looked forward to because knowing I could talk to someone who understood me was the best feeling in the world. I no longer felt worthless, and empty, and I found my passion for sports again. The councillors really are there to help you no matter how big or small the problem is, they will listen and guide you through it.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

I struggled with anxiety and depression for many years and still do to this day, but the difference? I got help and learned how to manage it, how to pinpoint the panic factors and mainly to overcome it when it’s at its peak. For me it’s very much a social factor, social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.

If someone asked me to talk on the phone to book an appointment  I would prepare myself for a good 10-15 minutes in advance and know exactly what I have to say just so I don’t mess up or stutter. Talking in crowds would absolutely FREAK ME OUT but I learned that if you have something in your hand for example if you’re doing a presentation in school/college/work wherever it may be, to hold an object in your hand to stop you from fidgeting. So now when I’m doing presentations in college I hold a ruler in my hand and worrying about people knowing I’m nervous doesn’t even cross my mind.

I had to bite the bullet and realise I needed help in order to overcome this and that bottling it up was only ruining things for myself and stopping me from achieving my goals. I couldn’t go to college not being able to talk to people, getting panic attacks at the thought of going on nights out with friends, meeting new people, I just couldn’t allow myself to stop me from living my life any longer. It was time for a change. So I went back to the counselling service I had previously gone to & I received intense Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) where the amazing professionals helped me to pinpoint the factors which caused me to get anxious. They taught me methods and breathing techniques which I still use to date.

It is impossible to stop a motivated person who refuses to give up. Don’t give up on yourself, treat your mental health like a goal in your life. If you wanted to be a guard wouldn’t you do everything in your power to reach that goal and be the best one there is? Exactly you would, so treat your mental health the same. Do everything you can to improve it and be the best version of yourself there is. You are more in control of this process than you think and a little help and guidance along the way will make the process more bearable for you.

I am now 20 and still suffer from anxiety but I have an amazing mom, boyfriend & siblings who are aware of the situation and always help me through it. I am the happiest I have ever been in two years now. I am finally happy in my own skin and have even embraced my curves I also am currently going into my third year of college despite the fact that I didn’t think I’d get through 5th year. Anything is possible once you put your mind to it, strive for progress, not perfection.

‘The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there’ take the bullet and seek help, you have absolutely nothing to lose but a life outside of this dark place to gain. You grow through what you go through.

Thanks so much for sharing this Shaunagh. If you are struggling with any of these issues, look below for a list of supports, or ask someone you trust for help. As Shaunagh says, you can get through this. 

Remember, the most amazing, compassionate, successful and inspiring people we know are those who faced challenges, and managed to overcome them.

Hang in there, it will pass x

SPUN OUT:  This is a one-stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter-of-fact, helpful and all bases are covered.

SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.

CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.

AWARE: Providing support and assistance to that section of society whose lives are affected by depression, bipolar disorder, postnatal depression or suicidal thoughts.

YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.

 

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