The Enduring Struggle

Please note this story references suicide

My issues with anxiety and depression started, well, I don't really know exactly when they started but I remember starting to ask my parents for days off school when I was 10/11 so that is when I pinpointed things starting to affect me. My issues definitely became apparent as I started high school.

There wasn't anything extraordinarily bad that happened to me during my childhood i.e. physical or sexual abuse. I grew up with my mum, dad and three sisters. Although I say nothing extraordinarily bad happened during my childhood, it was extremely stressful and at times chaotic with my parents being alcoholics for a bigger chunk of it than I would have liked. I had always known them to like a drink but they became proper alcoholics when I was around ten and that lasted until I was fifteen but a lot of kids have alcoholic parents.

My parents aren't bad people but I was constantly worried about them growing up when really, it should be the other way about with parents worrying about the kids. But, everybody has there own life situations that they have to deal with. We all have heartache in our lives and I suppose it's how we deal and respond to that heartache that can define us.

My mother, as well as being an alcoholic also had mental health issues and she was in and out of psychiatric wards as I was growing up so that wasn't easy to deal with either.

There was some people that tried to bully me and like to intimidate me and I was an easy target because I was a very small kid (when I was in fourth year at high school I was smaller than most first years) but it never got too bad and I think because I was so quiet, shy and introverted most people just left me alone.

My High School years were extremely difficult as I felt I just didn't belong or could fit in there, although I was a very shy and quiet kid so I barely talked to anyone in High School and therefore I got isolated quite a lot which was very difficult. But, at the same time, having friends and being around people was also extremely difficult for me so the situation was not good.

My attendance at High School every year was usually between 50/60% so I barely went to High School and I absolutely despised it due to the reasons in the above paragraph. I also think that I didn't want to go to High School due to me worrying about my parents as they would start drinking in the morning and they would be extremely drunk by around 1pm and there were times I would leave High School early to go home. My mum broke her leg while she was drunk so that's the type of thing I think I used to worry about with my parents drinking.

I hated High School but took the decision to stay on at High School at the end of fourth year simply because I get terrified at starting new things to the point where I will endure the misery of being at the place I'm already at. I also always go with the idiom "It's better the devil you know" in relation to school/work/college and change.

I also got a part-time job in a supermarket which I hated and ended up getting sacked from after three months of it and I suppose I just wasn't doing the job right. The next thing I tried was College so I done an NC in Health, fitness and exercise and amazingly I managed to get through the year and pass that course, but I was still struggling badly. At this point I didn't even know what was happening with me, I just know I hated every single day and especially days where I had to face people for long periods of time.

So, now that I had passed that NC I had the opportunity to do the HNC and I was 19 at this point so I was a few months into it and my mood and thoughts were in an extremely poor state and I knew I couldn't go on any longer like this. I came home one day, went to my bed and that was me for around three months. Anxiety, depression - whatever you want to call it, I just didn't care about anything and didn't want to get out of my bed. It got to the point during those three months where I would wait until I had the house to myself and tied a noose, got up on the chair, put the noose around my neck but for whatever reason I just couldn't kick the chair away.

I don't know why I struggle so badly to live a normal life. At times, I thought I was misanthropic because I would always try to avoid people if I could but I don't hate people, I just struggle really badly to be around people for long periods of time and it makes me extremely anxious and I get depressed about it.

After around three months of being bed-ridden and toiling with my suicidal thoughts, my parents pretty much forced me to see a doctor. I didn't want to see a doctor but I went and from the ages of 19 to 25 I was virtually a recluse. The only time I would leave the house would be for doctor or other mental health professional appointments. The doctor tried a few different meds  with me such as venlafaxine, citalopram and fluoxetine and also referred me to a counsellor first of all and then to a psychologist but mentally I was gone so it didn't matter what the doctor did, I wasn't ready for it hence the six years of being a recluse and nothing working.

When I was 25 I just stopped getting help and tbh I think my doctor didn't really know what to do with me so the help stopped and in one way it was good because I didn't have to leave the house for anything anymore. The only reason I left the house during the ages of 19 to 25 was for those appointments, but with them finished I could be a proper recluse. The downside of the help getting stopped was that I had no income as my benefits got stopped because I wasn't receiving help anymore, so I relied on my parents at this point as I was still living with them.

This lasted for two years where I never left the house once, never received any help and I had no income. You know, being on benefits isn't great because you do feel like a parasite but having no income at all makes you feel like a complete and utter failure. It was what seem like the little things that really got to me, like not being able to buy your niece and nephews birthday or christmas presents and that's outwith the obvious stuff like my parents providing me with a roof over my head and food to eat.

And, can I just say at this point I've never touched alcohol and never done drugs. I don't smoke either so I don't didn't/don't have any habits that required money.

So, two years of being a recluse had passed and my parents again intervened and got mental health services involved again. And, I didn't want the help as like I said, mentally I was gone and thought everything was pointless but I reluctantly agreed and this is when things started to turn a bit more positive for me. It was a CPN that first came out to see me at my home and I just saw him as a threat to my safety so I was not interested, but he kept coming back to see me and kept talking to me and tried to get me to leave the house.

After about ten/eleven months of him coming to my house for appointments something just clicked in my head and I said to myself that it's now or never, I thought that here is this guy trying to help me and being persistent so why not take a leap of faith and give it a go. I was cynical and didn't believe for one minute that anybody could help me but in my mind I knew I had to try and for the first time since I left College I felt ready to try again even if I didn't believe anything was going to help me.

So, after about three years of not having left the house I took those steps out the house and it was just small steps at first as it can be quite daunting when you've locked yourself away for so long. And, it went from leaving the house to eventually getting me to go into shops and places where they'd be people and crowds to familiarise myself with these environments again and getting me doing normal everyday stuff.

And then it was getting involved in mental health groups and this is when I was introduced to who was to be my support worker who helped me immensely and the groups I got involved in was the football and pool groups as those were the ones of most interest to me. And these groups, particularly the football group played a huge part in integrating back into some form of socialising with people although it took me a bit of time to start talking to people at these groups but I got there in the end.

The help I received this time round from the mental health services was more hands on and that helped me as well and I embraced the help fully this time round.

So, I went to the groups and football tournaments and slowly built my confidence up again. Also, something I haven't mentioned was my weight issues. When I left College I was around 10 stone and by the time I was 27 I had shot up to 16 stone, so having regained some of my motivation I have managed to lose the majority of that weight which is a positive.

I was then introduced to an OT (Occupational Therapist) as it was time to start thinking about getting back into work/education so I worked with my OT who helped me massively in preparing and getting me ready to take those steps. I got involved in the creation of a newsletter which was focused on projects that the NHS in conjunction with the service users had been involved in. My responsibilities in this newsletter were writing articles, communicating and collaborating with people and utilising my IT skills to create the newsletter and being involved in this helped me greatly.

I have also been working with another support worker who has also contributed postively to my recovery and the help and support I have received has been nothing short of amazing and I am so grateful for it because they have made such an impact on my life.

So, I then took the decision to try College again and my OT helped me sort out the financial side of that but also helped me prepare the difficulties I would face with being in College.

I get anxious and nervous with people so in College I don't eat or drink during the day so I can avoid the cafeteria area, I won't go to the toilet so I make sure I go before I leave for College in the morning and things like break times where I manage that by walking outside alone. These might seem like trivial things but to me they are not.

I have now managed to get through my first year at College and passed this course which is a computing course. I managed somehow to get an A in the course which is nosebleed territory for me as I'm used to failing at things. I was 32 when I passed this course. I struggled badly with my mood during this course which I think was to be expected as I'd been out of work/education for 12 years before this so I was referred to psychology and I am currently still seeing this psychologist and doing compassion focused therapy and things are going really well with that so I'm hopeful and I can find better ways of coping and handling life through this.

And, having got the A in that course I was encouraged to do the HNC by one of my lecturers but I decided against that and decided to do the level 6 course instead as I wasn't comfortable skipping a level and I am currenly around a month into this current course.

So, I am 33 now and things are looking a lot more positive. It's still a pretty big struggle for me and I am currently still receiving support from mental health services. I still struggle with what I perceive to be the whole pointlessness of life and trying to endure the misery of it.

I'm 33 and never been in a relationship. I am absolutely terrified of intimacy both emotional and physical and I can't bring myself to be part of that sort of relationship.

So, that's my story so far and I've probably missed out loads. If anybody has read this then thanks for reading.

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