The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.
Mum was finally cancer free and recovering well. As far as Cancer Treatments go, we had the absolute best possible experience. There were no complications and no need for chemotherapy. The whole thing was over in under six months. As my Mum is a Priest, my friend said that it was so miraculous that it almost made her believe in God. The whole experience taught me so much about the strength of human character (something which I will discuss in a later blog). At the time of receiving the “all clear” I had no reason to feel anything other than overwhelming joy.
For those who do not know me, it is important that you know a little bit about what I was like before 2013. Generally, I was a happy and functioning young woman. I did receive a diagnosis of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) when I was 19, however prior to that, due to my parents long, drawn-out separation, any time I was sad, there was usually some very understandable cause behind it.
When asked to describe me in one word, the most common choice amongst those closest to me is “passionate.” I don’t do anything by halves. When I’m in love, I’m head-over-heels, fully committed. My biggest love is my work. I am devoted to my career and dedicate every day of my life to it through reading, studying and volunteering. When I care about something, that something has my undivided attention.
However, on the other side of that is my horrific temper. As a teenager, my anger was cataclysmic – something which only professional anger management has succeeded to tame. I have always had extremes of character but it was never something that made me feel ill. It was simply who I was.
I realize that writing about my mental health in such a public forum is somewhat risky. The stigma around bad mental health is still so strong that I know it could deter future employers and possibly cost me current “friends”. Also, as a Social Worker, I am aware that revealing too much about yourself can have a negative impact on the people I work with, which is why I won’t go in to every aspect of what happened to me.
Knowing the risk, I still think it is important to share what I went through and I can only do so now because I am in a stable and “healthy” place. My journey in to mental ill health has undoubtedly been the loneliest experience of my life. I want to share some of the thoughts, feelings and behaviours I had so that, on the off-chance that if there is someone, somewhere desperately searching the internet for support with their own illness (as I was a year ago), that they may stumble across this blog and feel a little less alone.
[I also want the young people I work with to know that they should never be ashamed for being unwell. Just because it’s not openly spoken about doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to the best of us. There’s no shame in it.]
Mum’s cancer was undoubtedly a trigger for past traumas. Pre-2013 I had fairly successfully (and destructively) pushed all my pain to the very bottom of my soul. Post-2013, the unresolved aspects of my history flooded every corner of me, like the unlocking of Pandora’s box.
I won’t- or rather am not ready to- disclose the causes of the trauma, but what I will say is that over the last 18 months I have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Insomnia, Anxiety, Chronic Depression, Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), to name but a few. I’ve been picking up diagnoses like Pokemon.
The experts are now fairly settled on it being Bipolar and BPD and whilst it is unlikely that I’ll ever be cured of these afflictions, they are now, finally under control. But it has been a very long and very rocky road.
To be continued…