I know this isn’t the most upbeat blog post in the world, but if this helps just one person, I’ll know I made the right decision in posting this blog.
It all started when I was 11. The most trivial things would bother me more than the usual child. Petty arguments with friends would result in me crying uncontrollably and thinking it was the end of the world. Purposely covering myself in scratches from “falling” into hedges, brambles, roses, anything that could draw blood and when my parents noticed, I’d say one of the neighbourhood cats did it. I’d have panic attacks in bed every night for no particular reason, I’d just freak out about the world in general.
Most people assume that when a child of this age feels this way, it’s their parents’ fault. Not in my case. My parents are the most loving, caring people I’ve ever known. I always felt loved, wanted, needed and our home was my safety net. They didn’t spoil me, but I always had what I needed, with the odd treat of course. My parents sensed that something wasn’t right, and supported me in whatever way they could to try and help me feel as good as possible in the circumstances.
It certainly didn’t help that most people in my year at school (and a couple from other years) teased me constantly to the point where my attendance dropped to 25%. I couldn’t face going in and putting up with the endless digs, ruining the little self-confidence I had left. I wouldn’t say I was being bullied, but under my circumstances, their harmless “teasing” really hurt. I dropped out in year 10 and became home schooled. Being able to work at my own pace, in my own space, without people winding me up really helped.
By 16 I was classed as clinically depressed with severe anxiety and a form of OCD. My OCD centred around germs, because I’ve always had a phobia of vomit and I caught a lot of bugs when I was younger. So I went to extreme lengths to make myself feel like I was as protected as possible from germs. Whenever I washed my hands (a good 30 times a day) it would be in scolding water, scrubbing with soap until my skin became raw and flaky. They became so sensitive I was struggling to do everyday things without being in pain. I knew then that it was time to get proper help. I was referred to the CAHMS team, which helps people with mental health issues who are under the age of 18. By this time, not only was I damaging the skin on my hands, I was self harming on a regular basis and having suicidal thoughts daily. There was a few occasions where I tried to act on these thoughts, but I won’t go into detail on that topic. Myself, my parents and the staff at CAHMS decided it was best to try different kinds of therapy before resulting to taking medication.
When I turned 18 I was referred to the adult mental health service, Claire House. I saw an amazing doctor who informed me that the reason I had suffered like this from the age of 11 is because I have a borderline personality disorder. Suddenly it all made sense. I finally had a reason as to why all these feelings would hit me without an explanation. He made me feel normal, that I wasn’t some kind of freak. I continued with different types of therapy, but they would only help temporarily. After some long discussions, the doctor decided to start me on an antidepressant, Sertraline; and another medication called Quetiapine, which helps control my anxiety and OCD as well as letting me have a better nights sleep. I was going to be monitored on how I progressed whilst taking them.
I was progressing quite well, until December 2014, just two weeks before Christmas, when I lost my best friend – a beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback named Tilly. She was so loving and upbeat, a massive presence that will never be forgotten. My whole world came crashing down when she passed away. She had helped me in so many ways in the 10 years that we had her. She was my comforter. I spent that night sat in a corner rocking and sobbing uncontrollably, not knowing what I was supposed to do next. I honestly felt lost, that there was no point carrying on. The loss of Tilly made my depression, anxiety and OCD come back with a vengeance. I became a zombie. I just didn’t care anymore.
The next month, I got a boyfriend. Funnily enough, he was studying psychology! He was great and really understanding. But one night I took a turn for the worst, and actually tried to end my life. I was taken to hospital to get the help I needed. They did all the routine tests, including a pregnancy test. It was then that my life changed forever… For the better.
The test came back positive. I nearly fell off my chair with shock and the nurse thought I was going to throw up. That was the kick up the arse that I needed. I was going to be a mum. A young mum, pregnant at 18, but I was determined to be the best I could be. My then boyfriend fled when I told him the news. I was angry at the time, but now I kind of understand. He was my age, in college, with his whole life ahead of him. He was frightened. I can’t hold a grudge for that. The shock of the pregnancy and the fact that I’m now a single mum kicked me into gear. I stopped self-harming, no more suicidal thoughts, and even my OCD slowing starting getting better. The combination of a new life to think about, plus the medication I was taking to keep me ticking over nicely, made me become my old self again.
If anyone feels how I did, or similar to how I did, please get help. Please.
You CAN overcome this, no matter how hopeless things seem, things WILL get better. I am here for you. I am a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen. Don’t be afraid to ask me anything on this topic.
Lots of love,
Sarah Sparkles xxx