There is no doubt that mental health has been on one hell of a ride this decade. For me, I started off this decade by attempting suicide, self-harming, I was severely depressed and I had a firm hand on my self-destruct button up until last year. I’m now here clear minded, traumas processed, I see a future for myself and I can safely say I am happy but I don’t think that would’ve been possible if it hadn’t have been for the improvements made within the mental health industry, especially amongst the younger generation.
I was 14 in 2010 and it had been around two years since my dad died. My high school threw me into counselling without my mums or my consent but we decided to go through with it (after my mum and grandma stormed into my school to give the teachers a bollocking) as it got me out of some of my lessons as well. I’m very grateful for my counsellor, she’s a lovely lady but the counselling was shit. It was too soon for me and the counselling wasn’t about any of the issues that were going on in my head. If anything, the issues were avoided. They weren’t spoken of and I wasn’t ever given the opportunity to speak about them because I was only grieving right? It was as though they knew I was grieving and that’s all that could be wrong with me.
I’d go for a counselling session, talk about school, how things were at home and other bits of crap. I’d then leave the counselling session and I’d be a blubbering mess for the rest of the day. I’d cry a shit load and sometimes I’d be taken back to my counsellor, sometimes I’d cry to my friends and sometimes I’d sit in my lessons and silently cry whilst trying to not attract any attention. I couldn’t speak about my dads death or what was going on with how I began to think about myself and my life because I wasn’t getting anything beneficial in return. I was getting no understanding, no real safe place and no knowledge. All that was offered to me was avoidance and sympathy. How could I begin to understand what was going on with me if no one else was trying to understand either?
I had stopped the counselling before I reached 15 and I carried on through high school as though I was somewhat stable. I then moved away for college. This was the start of a new beginning. New people, new places everything was new. It was great but I realised that I still couldn’t escape my own head. My PTSD was off the charts (I still hadn’t even heard of PTSD yet), depression had me trapped in my room and I was struggling socially (I also hadn’t even heard of anxiety yet either).
I ended up having a mental breakdown. I confided a bit in my college teacher and she spoke to the college counsellors minutes afterwards so I went to see them. I began counselling again. In some ways it was useless. Once again my issues were never tackled. In some ways it benefitted me. I was told that I might have depression, PTSD and anxiety (they were never 100% sure…fuck knows why. I put it down to my age group to be honest). I was more open to this counsellor, I was actually able to speak about my dads death. I didn’t speak about anything else, I could just about talk about that and how it made me feel. I tried to talk about my alcohol issues but that also got brushed off (I also put this down to my age group as well).
I ended up finishing the counselling because I felt like it just wasn’t benefitting me.
For the next few years I had multiple mental breakdowns, struggled a lot with alcohol and self-harm and made bad choices. I had been to my doctors but I felt I wasn’t taken seriously (I also think this was due to my age) so I tried my hardest to just get on with my life. Then I had THE mental breakdown of all mental breakdowns and I finally admitted defeat. I was booked to go and see my GP. I sat down with him knowing full well how the conversation would go and what the outcome would be but I was so wrong. He listened, he took me seriously, I was prescribed meds and started counselling a week later and this was counselling that was tailored to my issues. I loved it because I could relate to it so well. I then started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is mostly for PTSD and anxiety. This was the shit that helped me change my life around. I clicked extremely well with my counsellor to the point where I was able to speak fully about my traumas and know that I was doing so in a safe place. There was trust there, understanding and respect. The counselling took it’s toll on me. I couldn’t face going to work anymore so I left my job and remained unemployed till I left for Australia. I slept for the majority of the day and conversations were hard to pull out of me sometimes. I never spoke about my sessions to anyone. I didn’t want to. It was something between my counsellor and I and something I didn’t want to go into depth with away from her because I was unsure of what could happen in my head.
This was the therapy that changed my outlook on my life. This was the shit that actually worked for me. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was actually pioneered by Dr Aaron T. Beck back in the 1960’s, which makes you wonder why it has only in the recent years began to become well heard of. This decade has given mental health the well needed push it deserves.
Throughout this decade we have had multiple celebrity suicides. There have been a few suicides committed by friends I once knew, people I went to school with and people in my home area. In the recent years we have become more vocal about what goes on through our heads which is something that would never have happened at the start of the decade. We have TV shows that are created around the subject of mental health. We have social media platforms which allow us to raise awareness. We now have more studies being done than ever before. The industry is getting more funding (not a lot, but still more) and the stigma is fading. We have months, weeks and days dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. Mental health is finally getting the recognition it needs.
Can you imagine what the next decade could bring for those suffering? If we focus on:
- Improving the support for those suffering from mental illnesses.
- Increase fundings.
- Reduce the stigma.
- Equalise the treatment for physical and mental illnesses.
- Educating about mental health.
- Bringing awareness into our working lives.
Personally, this decade has been an unbelievable roller coaster of events and emotions for me. Going from where I was, to where I am at now fills me with joy to think about what could happen in the future if we continue to progress how we are.
To those suffering from a silent battle, trust that there is always someone available to you.
I’m always here,
Wishing you all a happy new year,
Sending my love,
Contact numbers for the UK:
You can call them on 116 123 for free from any phone. Their lines are open 24 hours, 365 days of the year.
You can call them on 0300 304 7000. They are open from 4:30pm-10:30pm everyday.
They offer support for under 25s. They can be reached by calling 0808 808 4994 or they have a crisis text messenger service.
They offer support for those suffering from suicidal thoughts, feelings or those concerned about a friend. You can call them on 0800 068 4141. They also have a text messaging service.
This is a confidential and anonymous service specifically for students. All operators are also students themselves. You can contact them via their website.
A confidential service for those in the LGBT community. You can call them on 0300 330 0630
Contact numbers for Australia:
You can call them on 13 11 14. You can also chat to them online or via text message.
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can call them on 1300 22 4636
Blue Knot Foundation
A helpline that offers information and support for those who have suffered childhood abuse or trauma. You can call them on 1300 657 380
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week for Australian men. You can call them on 1300 78 99 78
A free, confidential helpline for children and young people aged from 5 to 25. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week and you can call on 1800 55 1800. You can also contact them via email or their online chat.
The Butterfly Foundation
Offers information, support and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders or struggling with body image. They are free to call on 1800 33 4673