My mental health care challenge
I am someone who has to work on their mental health every day. I was not aware of my struggles as a teenager and even in my most of my adult life. I thought everyone felt the way I felt and what I was internalising was normal. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago did I finally wake up to the fact that I had a mental illness and this is why I had suffered for so many years.
My struggle began with an eating disorder in my early teens. I would punish myself for eating and then punish myself some more for being weak. I hated who I was, especially when I was alone with my thoughts. “You are so bloody weak Natalie”. “You don’t deserve everything you have”. “You are just not good enough”.
I never sought help to overcome my eating disorder because I was so embarrassed by it. Instead, I kept everything inside, allowing the thoughts to continue to haunt me and to intensify the pain. I numb the pain, I found comfort in alcohol – and lots of it. I needed something to help me forget what a horrible person I was and how much I loathed who I pretended to be to the world. Everyone was drinking so this one I could share with the world without standing out.
During those years of numbing the pain through alcohol, I managed to get myself into many compromising positions. I had a few bad experiences that even to this day I cringe when I think about them. But I know that even though I wasn’t shouting out for help, I was actually screaming silently hoping someone would hear me and say it was going to be OK.
Alcohol turned into strong bouts of depression. I still didn’t understand that if I looked around me there were so many people ready to help me. All I had to do was release myself from the internal pain by just saying, “I need help”. I knew my feelings were not right but I also didn’t think what I felt was any different to most of my friends. This is where I was very wrong.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to mental illness. Some people have the knowledge to know things are not right. Some people have the mind power to seek help when they feel trapped in sadness and want to get out. Some people only know how to hide away, hoping it will all just work itself out. Some people believe they should be ashamed for feeling the way they do because of everything they have.
I am in an amazing place now after working through my challenges over the past 5 years. I work on my mental health every day to stay strong, healthy and to share the skills with others. I believe everyone should know more about their own mental health (not mental illness) and have the tools to know how to work through emotions. This is now what I teach. It’s not about working with mental illness – it’s about preventing mental illness by growing a strong mental health.
I have challenged myself to post something for the next 365 days about caring for mental health. Today I will share some of these with you.
Lots of love Always