When did it start? I can’t answer that, all I know is I have had mental health issues for a long time. Way before I was diagnosed, that’s for sure.
I remember, as a kid, playing sports at school, this was my passion. All I ever wanted was for my mom to be there, she never was. All my friends had family come and watch them, but not me! My dad was in prison so he was never around and my mom, well she just wasn’t there. I felt let down, I needed support like the other kids got, I’m sure it was around this time that my depression and anxiety started. Eventually, I played less and less sport, the only reason I went, in the end, was to be with my friends. I gave up on many things and people started to notice. I had no drive and determination left in me. I felt sad, angry, frustrated and betrayed a mixture of emotions that were hard for me to understand
Things went from bad to worse. By the time I went to secondary school, I had started to self-harm. To begin with, it was just very small cuts on my arms, it gave me a strange sensation, a kind of relief from all the pressure and distressing thoughts that we constantly going through my mind. I managed to keep this a secret for quite a long time until one day a teacher saw my arm. This frightened me, nearly out of control. I didn’t want to be found out. I was scared that I would be taken away from my home. Homelife wasn’t easy by any means, I hated being there, but I still loved my mom and didn’t want them to take me away from her. So I lied, I pretended I had it all under control, cutting was a thing of the past. This really brought things to a head and I stopped cutting myself for a while.
It is hard to explain but the cutting was kind of like a safe place for me. I missed the relief it gave me. This is when I started to cut my stomach. I tried to reach out to my mom. I wanted her to understand how I felt and what I was thinking, I longed for her to sit and listen and really notice what was going on inside my mind. She never did. She would say things like: “Your thoughts aren’t my thoughts” or “You’re seeking attention”. How could she not see that I was desperate, that I needed help?
Now that I’m older I really wished that the teacher hadn’t believed my lies. I wish she had pursued the matter and got help for me, I was young and really needed someone to understand. I lost a part of my adolescence, something I will never get back. If this teacher and only seen what was really going on maybe things wouldn’t have got worse!
I guess the turning point came soon after I had my beautiful daughter. It was tough to begin with as on top of the general anxiety and depression I already had, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. A new life to look after, someone else to care for was tough but I loved my baby girl so much and above all, I could never imagine anything happening to her. I wanted to be the best mum I could be there for when she needed me so I finally reached out. I went and got help. It was the hardest thing I ever did. It wasn’t easy to open up, I kept so much back, to begin with, I couldn’t talk about all these things that I had kept locked away for so many years. It took time and trust, but it happened, one day it all came flooding out. It was like a dam opening and the water rushing through. This was the first step in my recovery journey. I still get days now when I feel like staying in bed and not facing the world. I still get days now when I look back and think, if only……. I still get days now when I worry about my thoughts and feelings. I know my limits and I know when I need to take a day off of work for the sake of my mental health. More importantly most days now I feel alive, I enjoy being a mom and I have a future to look forward to. I wanted to share my story to let people know that there is hope, there is help out there. There are people and charities like No Panic who understand what you are going through and can help. So reach out sooner rather than later, I wish I had. Together we need to normalize mental health, it’s okay not to be okay but let’s do it together. Jamesha Mills
How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services aim to provide people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery. No Panic’s 5 Step Approach