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At 22, Mental Health Has Been A Lifelong Battle

April 30, 2018

image by Keenan Constance

 

 

 

 

I’m 22 years old and for me, mental health has been a lifelong battle, I’ve always been so different to those around me, I fought against what the typical child and teenager was supposed to be. I was very isolated and unpopular because of this, people treated me like I was a disease and that lead to a lot of bullying and even now I struggle with social cues and situations out of fear of being judged.

 

 

It’s not been an easy life. I had a fleeting moment of popularity which fueled my ego and while I loved the attention, I lost sight of myself and became toxic, I ended up in some very hard situations.

 

 

I was sexually assaulted, raped, as well as being emotionally and physically abused in and outside my home, I had no safe space so I started abusing substances and getting myself into toxic relationships.

 

 

I think that being raised in a family with autism present within the household and being afraid of myself and the world, because I saw the pain that others chose to ignore, caused me to act out, not for attention as such but so that I didn't have to feel or see the pain. I was never told to say 'No', I was raised to be a proper woman, to be domestic and to do what I was told, I never had a lesson on sex other than how to have it and maybe this is why people found it so easy to abuse and take advantage of me, because I did not understand or know anything else, I just wanted to please people and make them happy.

 


By 17 I had been through a lot of trauma and shock, I kept pushing for help and support from my GP but it was always short lived or a dead end, I'm not sure there was much support around at this time, so all of these feelings kept building up more and more, to the point where it was hard to get help because I'd been described as a 'Pandora's' box.
 

 

A month after my 18th, my father went missing, a month after that he was found dead, suicide. The whole situation was hard, having a loved one missing is an experience I do not wish on anyone and it really messes with your head, then having to come to terms with my father's death was hard, he was my best friend and rock, he was always saving me and others from suicide.

 

 

Four days before my father went missing, I asked him why it was the nicest people who would die first and he couldn't answer, the truth is that  my dad was the most giving and kind man you could have met, everyone loved him and I think people who are so empathic tend to hurt more and hide more, I suppose I am the same.

 

 

I’m not mad or upset at the way he died, in a sad way I understand it and there is no anger in me towards it, what hurts is just that I lost the most important person in my life, I was a real daddy’s girl.

 

 

I want people to know that life can get better, in the sense that you can live the life you want and pursue your goals and dreams. You do not need to be alone

 

 

It’s been hard and a rollercoaster since, recovery isn’t linear and grief is complicated, I have learnt in these last four years that we all need to grieve in our own time and way, there is no wrong or right and we certainly need to push against the stigma that we should always move on, because you don’t, you just learn to cope.

 

 

What I really have learnt is not to feel bad for feeling happy, for enjoying life without my dad. For a time it felt wrong to exist without him but I believe our loved ones do not want us to die with them, though we all do a little, that's just grief.

 


I’m now moved out, have been married for a year and have my soul mate who has four paws, my fluffly support dog. I’m in a better place, I am currently in the process of treatment for my mental health, a mixture of medication, checkups and soon I’ll be getting CBT, as well as Trauma and Bereavement counselling and I am so excited. I know I am going to be in a better mental space through this support and hope to find comfort in understanding myself.

 


However, I have not been able to rely on medical support on its own, after all, we can only really rely on ourselves and though medication helps, it doesn't take away my pain, it just stops me from relapsing.

 

 

I have to work hard on a day to day basis and  I will write a lot, blog posts, poems, short stories and novels, all to do with mental health. I like to use my twitter to raise awareness of suicide and mental health and also provide a support system for anyone who needs to talk to someone.

 

 

I see myself as trying to be a friend, to prevent people being alone in their fight. I’m planning a charity ball to get my community talking about mental health and suicide and am looking into doing speeches in the workplace and schools to try to find more support options, as we certainly need them!

 

 

Advocating mental health is my passion and now my life and I really love it and in the weirdest way, doing all of this has given me purpose and strength, which I never had before, goals and dreams which again, I never had.

 


I also have a trampoline in my living room which helps me out, something about jumping gives me a childlike nostalgia. My dog is literally my hero, she helps me more than she knows.

 

 

I’m lucky enough to have the world's most loving and supportive husband who lets me follow my writing dream and loves me for me, though I fully believe that mental health shouldn’t be focused on being loved by another, what’s important is learning to love yourself because your life matters more than people's opinions of you, though you should only ever allow people who respect you into your life, in my experience, toxic people only hurt your mental health.

 


I want people to know that life can get better, in the sense that you can live the life you want and pursue your goals and dreams. You do not need to be alone. 

 

 

My battle is daily and I work so hard doing so many things to fight off my demons, far from easy but I’m doing it and I know we all can with a strong support system and more awareness to drown out that stigma.

 

 

My recovery or improvement in my mental health can all be tied to communication, honesty with my GP and loved ones, being able to let out my feelings in writing and just by talking with others to find new ways to help my mental health. Talking is free but it's worth is priceless, we all need a friend, that's what I want to create, and to be.  

 

 

If you have been affected by the issues discussed in this article, you can contact the Samaritans here.

 

 

 

Author's Bio

Charlotte Underwood is a 22 year old from Norfolk UK. She is a growing mental health advocate and has found passion in writing to make her voice heard.

You can learn more about Charlotte on her website or connect via Twitter .

 

 

 

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