Written by ECBC contributor Courtney, aged 17 and from Bury. (CW- selfharm)
#AtAnyAge is a campaign created by ECBC Manchester to raise awareness that we can live with a mental illness at any stage during our lives and always deserve support.
Just a little background into my Mental Health journey –
At the age of 14 was when my mental health started to change, I no longer felt happy, I no longer felt myself and after a few months I realised this was not how I should have been feeling. I started to notice a difference in my mood when my mum and dad split up, this was hard for me, as it would be for anyone. At this point I was at the end of Year 9 at school and I didn’t let it affect my school life at first. However, when I went back to school after the summer holidays, I noticed that my moods where also affecting how I was in school and this was difficult as Year 10 & 11 in school are classed as the ‘most important’ so I was worried about it all.
At first, I kept it to myself, I didn’t want anyone to know how I was feeling but after a few months I knew I needed help. This was when I started speaking to a pastoral support worker in school and this meant I was speaking to someone about my thoughts & feelings, which I can tell you is ESSENTIAL!
I started to self-harm at the age of 15 and this was a very dark and difficult place for me, this is when I knew I couldn’t cope with it anymore, I went to my GP and was referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and this was the start of me overcoming my difficulties. However, as school went on and I moved into Year 11, things just seemed to get worse.
So, when I left high school we moved to Bury, and this was a massive change for me and was difficult at first but now I realise how much it actually helped me. My first year of college went great, my mental health was in a good place and I felt like myself again. However, in January 2018 I started to notice a difference in my mood again and I went back to self-harming, my grades in college started to slip and I knew I needed help. This is when I reached out to my GP, I self-referred to a local mental health service and I was diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety.
I was determined to not let this diagnosis take over my life.
I engaged with services in order to get the right help and support, started taking medication to help and I am currently in counselling. Since having the diagnosis, I have started a blog, written blog posts for others, been part of a mental health segment for the BBC which was shown in MHAW 2018 and I am a media volunteer for Time To Change. All of this is to not only help myself, but to help others realise having a mental health illness is nothing to be ashamed of!
I’m not going to lie having a mental illness whilst in education is difficult, however, with the right help and support, you CAN do it and you CAN achieve high grades!
The Importance of Self-help and Self-care
Self-care is an essential part of managing and trying to overcome mental health problems. Using different self-care techniques could mean that it helps to prevent the problem from getting bigger.
There are many different ways in which a person can help themselves to overcome problems they may face with their mental health. The main ones I have found useful are;
- Relaxation – Taking baths etc
- Mindfulness (Apps such as Headspace are good)
- Going on a walk – This is something I do to ‘clear’ my head
However, there are many other things which I have found very useful. Professionals are an amazing start in recovery, but they will not always be there, and it is important that you find something to replace that when it’s not there. I have found using websites such as Big White Wall and/or Kooth are helpful as they give people the space to talk to others who are going through the same or similar to yourself.
As well as this, they have articles which will provide you with information on a variety of different mental health subjects which may also be useful. In addition to this, I have found a variety of different apps that are available to download on phones, tablets, iPads etc which can help, one app I have found particularly useful is ‘Calm Harm’ and this is an app to help people who struggle with self-harm.
If you, the person reading this takes anything away from this, I want you to know that mental health illnesses DO NOT ruin your chance in achieving, it may be more of a challenge, but it will be worth it in the end! Furthermore, I want people to know how important self-care/self-help is, without this the world would be a place of stressed out people.
It is essential in taking time for YOURSELF, this may be seen as selfish, but you have to be selfish to be kind!
Love, Courtney x
You can follow Courtneys blog here.