I’m Shannon. I’m 20 nearly 21 in October. I wasn’t taught about mental health as a kid. It was just brushed off. I had no idea what depression was when I was growing up yet alone any other mental illnesses. There weren’t no lessons at school about mental health or even body positivity. I had so many issues while growing up. Many involved self-esteem and confidence issues. Then social anxiety which turned into social phobia in 2015/2016 and my illnesses.
Back then when my beautiful mother passed away in 2009. I felt like I was only allowed a set period to grieve then I had to “get back” to normal. I was at the stage of my life where I was moving from primary school to secondary. Which is stressful in its own thing yet alone grieving for your mum who died 6 weeks ago.
I found my mum dead in her bed in my house which I live in today. I still get flashbacks of that day. 11 years after. My mum was my first ever best friend. We had the best bond ever. She used to do a different hairstyle every single day and use to call me her little girl. I felt loved for the very first time.
Then suddenly It changed. I felt like I had no one. My mum was gone. And I moved into secondary school. New school. I had to make new friends. New everything. My head felt like I was stuck in that moment when my mum died but my body was moving.
I hated school with a passion. Whether it was the symptoms of my social phobia. I haven’t got a clue. I just didn’t feel safe there. I was bullied by people for being the girl without a mum. I was even bullied by some of the staff about attendance. I got told I wouldn’t ever be good at anything. I wouldn’t ever get a job. I wouldn’t do well at life.
I was put in child protection because my attendance wasn’t good. It wasn’t because my family was awful to me. My family was amazing if I’m honest with you. Not once did they ask how I was feeling mentally. If I was asked are you okay? Maybe things would be different.
Education welfare didn’t even ask if I was okay mentally. They just wanted to know why I wasn’t at school. I felt so unsafe at school when I should have been a happy teenager enjoying life. I was sat in my bed crying my eyes out every evening because I dreaded to go to school. I told everyone I felt unsafe at school and no one did anything.
I went to the doctors when I was 12/13 for the symptoms of anxiety and depression. That’s the start of this journey. The doctor did the tests for both and I got sent to CAMHS. Worst decision ever.
We waited 6 weeks for an appointment. I got seen at Walsall CAMHS. The woman didn’t even ask how I was feeling. She just asked why I didn’t want to go to school and just told my nan and the doctor and the school who sent me to CAMHS that it was just a “teenage phrase due to hormones”!
I got sent back to school. Nan got told off and I got told I was lying about feeling unsafe at school. Lying!? Why would I lie about feeling unsafe at school? I was told to write in a notepad on how I was feeling. I did that. I showed that to the attendance officer and she did nothing.
Fast forward to 2014. The year I left school. I was at school often. I went even though I was feeling suicidal and unsafe just, so the education welfare wouldn’t hurt my nan as I was petrified. When I left that school, it was the best day of my life because I could start to get help from my GP and get treatment and not be called a liar on how I was feeling. I felt a little hope for my future.
In the end of 2014 to the start of 2015.
I started college. I think that when the manic episode hit me because I was applying for everything under the sun as I wanted to show people that I was fine. I did not even think about it until I got letters and appointments. I wasn’t ok. My nan knew that something was wrong.
Then all the sudden I felt low and empty. I didn’t tell anyone as my previous experience at school of telling people how I felt and getting told I was lying and just get on with life.
I went for 3 weeks. I had the paranoia and suicidal thoughts back again. I hated finishing at late nights. I felt warier. I didn’t make eye contact at all. I started to not go to places. I started to push family and friends away. I rarely went to family events. That’s when It hit me I had a problem and I needed help, but I just hid it all with a fake smile until the point of staying indoors started to be days then weeks then months then a year.
We had numerous home visits from doctors. But as I was 17. I wasn’t allowed medication as I was under the age of 18. I begged for help and I was just given a website to go on. I was scared to even go outside in the garden. We was just brushed off with you’re too young for medication and calling it a teenage phrase.
Correct me if I’m wrong but how is staying inside your house for a whole year a teenage phrase? I was petrified of the world. I had no help from professional services at all. I was a lost cause one of the student doctors said.
But one morning 2 weeks before my 18th birthday. I woke up. I told my nan that I didn’t want to feel this anymore. I wanted to go out and see the birds from outside with her.
At first it was scary as anything. But I did it with her help. At the start it was five minutes each day then we’d up it each week to 10 minutes then so on.
I was slowly getting better it felt good. I was on my recovery path. I was getting better. I was happy. I had hope for the future. I got a job at marks and spencers in March 2016. Then b&m. I met a lad who was older about 24 and I was 18 at the time and we started dating until July when something bad happened between us. At the start it was awesome we use to go out on nice dates to places and nandos! (was our favourite restaurant.) I felt wanted by him until he started being horrible and calling me horrible names. My mental health was dipping again at that stage due to that event what happened. My mood swings was rapidly changing. I was high for 5 weeks then all the sudden. I felt so low.
We broke things off. I was upset as he was so nice, and I was attracted to him. But I found out that he was talking to this other girl and the best he was talking to me so nicely, but he took her on a date while was talking to me. I felt like I was getting another chance but no.
He called me names like psycho and crazy. I was like a lost puppy dog with him. He didn’t tell me anything about us two if it was completely over. He just led me on. I was broken. I had nothing. I put so much effort for him and I was left broken that’s the reason today why I have trust issues and confidence issues.
Then while I had to deal with that issue. I had another traumatic event went on. I was groomed by someone who I was safe and trusted and helped me get me my job. I won’t mention names, but I was broken as I felt the police didn’t handle it well. They just gave him a slap on the wrist. I still see him sometimes in the community and I’m so scared of him.
After that, I stayed in the house for 5 weeks because I mentally was broken. That’s when all my mental illnesses started to show the symptoms again. I relapsed again. But it was a dangerous relapse.
I was putting myself in dangerous situations when I was manic. Drinking and taking drugs to block the cruel thoughts my mind was telling me. I was self harming. I wanted to be dead. I had nothing to live for. Luckily my nan noticed the signs and she dragged me to the doctors. I got given citalopram and was put on CBT therapy. It was making me worse and the therapist told me to go out and speak to strangers when I’m feeling anxious. In all honestly, I never tried that. I didn’t go for one session as I was poorly being sick due to meds and they discharged me. So, I had no hope for the NHS mental health services at that point.
A big thing happened in March 2017 to April 2017. My Dad had a big heart attack. That broke me even more. I already lost one parent. My mind went in turmoil. I was getting thoughts like if I went to see him. He’d get hurt and I’d get hurt. Considering my mental health was over the place. I was getting stressed more day. I wasn’t eating. I was just binge drinking as that as my only coping mechanism to stop the bad intrusive thoughts. A bad coping mechanism. Luckily, the hospital saved his life. I kicked my social phobia every single day to go see him. He was discharged from hospital after 2 weeks and tests.
He was told he had heart failure and needed more tests. A massive kick to our hearts. I felt emotionally and mentally and physically exhausted. I lost faith in God. I felt like I was cursed. That’s when my abandonment issues kicked in. I felt every person who I loved and got close to left me or died.
Seeing your dad getting worse each day and being told his only option to save his life was a quadruple heart bypass as his heart was a massive time bomb and if he had a massive heart attack he would die was earth shattering.
I was all over the place.
Since my mum died. I felt like I was given bad luck all my life. At that point I didn’t act on my suicidal thoughts but as time passed the thoughts got much deeper. I was getting worse. I was emotionally and mentally dead inside. I had no trust with anyone. I was feeling numb. I was at the line of committing suicide.
I was drinking more. Every single day. Hiding alcohol. Going to meet lads and putting myself in dangerous situations to block out the suicidal thoughts but one night the thought was so intense I was crying and, in a spit, second, I acted on those thoughts. I tried to end my life.
In that second when I acted. I was in the bus stop crying to myself at half 2am on my own. 2 weeks before my 20th birthday. Luckily it failed, and I went to a&e. I didn’t have the best experience, but the nurse looked after me and I begged the mental health doctor what was on call to put me in hospital as I needed help and I felt unsafe.
I was put on home treatment for 6 weeks. They changed my meds to fluoxetine. I was getting better slowly. I was going out again. I was taking day by day. My emotions was so intense. One minute I felt numb then I felt everything at once.
I was feeling the high feeling while feeling the emotion intensity. My highs was so dangerous. My impulsive decisions and thoughts. I tried to take my life again as this pain was too much to handle everything was going around in my head. My dad. That man. My ex-boyfriend. My life.
The day after was the day what changed my life for the good. My nan took me to the doctor. A doctor what listened to me. On that night of that day. I had planned to take my life, I written notes. But thankfully it didn’t get to that point. My doctor. Dr Flenley. He asked me the important question. Shannon are you okay? I acted like I was. I said yeah, I’m fine. Then he said are you okay? That’s when I broke down in tears and told him everything.
I told him I didn’t want to be here anymore that it was too much for me. I told what happened. A doctor appointment has a ten-minute window, but he didn’t care about that. He spent 30 minutes talking to me and ringing people. He gave me faith to carry on.
When I got out of it. I rang my nan and cried down the phone and told her that I was finally getting listened too and being believed.
I ripped up my suicide notes and everything. I started to detox from the alcohol and drugs. I started to talk to my gran about my feelings and went to my weekly doctor appointments with doctor Flenley.
I started to get better and I was getting back into faith. I was getting back to see my dad and seeing my friends. My medication was working with talking. I felt like my recovery was near.
At that time. I was starting this blog. I wanted to document my journey with the demons and help other people who had lost their voices like I did back when I was a teenager.
Christmas came and went.
January was good. Then February hit then march. The worse months of my life.
On February 8th. My nan couldn’t breathe. She had a chest infection what turned into the life-threatening sepsis. Back then I didn’t make a phone call as I was so distressed about speaking on the phone. But I picked the phone up and rang 999.
That phone call. Saved my nan’s life. I had to battle each day going up to hospital with all my demons.
She got better. But then my dad had his date for his quadruple heart bypass. I was told not to go to see him the day after as he was connected to wires and tubes. I was told this was a risky operation as all his coronary arteries was blocked.
The second day I went to see him was such a shock. He looked so ill. I never saw him look so pale. It was a knock to my mind. While I was seeing him every day. I didn’t eat or sleep as I couldn’t face it. That’s when my mental health started to decline yet again.
But this time. I was in the hospital toilets and looked at myself in the mirror. I told myself. That this pain will pass and I’m better than the demons in my head. Then this little uplifting feeling and idea came into my head.
When I’m feeling awful and my mind is playing up to put all that energy in campaigning for better awareness and mental health services to help other children and teens and adults and the elderly with their mental health’s. As I didn’t want anyone else to go through what I did.
Thankfully my dad was strong enough for that recovery and he’s doing cardiac rehabilitation.
I still have low and bad days. But I have good days. My recovery is always near me. I have dips and I’ll have relapses, but I won’t ever let my demons win. Yes, I’m still waiting for a mental health assessment, but I can wait. I got given my diagnosis.
I have been diagnosed with social phobia disorder and depression. I have suspected bipolar and BPD and PTSD.
I’m just the average 20-year-old girl ever. I love rap music. I love game of thrones and I love lord of the rings. I’m from a town called Aldridge. I don’t think I’m an inspiration or incredible. I’m a real human who battles with mental illnesses and stigma and adulthood.
I’ve gained my voice back what mental illness took off me at the start of my fight. I’m happy that I took that massive step of talking and speaking out about my issues.
I am 7 months free of substance abuse.
I want schools to make it mandatory that all primary schools and secondary schools get taught about mental health and life issues. Including body positivity and healthy relationships. I won’t stop until the support we are needed is here and the awareness what needs to be shared.
I want to make a difference to my community and other communities. I still want to live in Australia and have a selfie with a kangaroo but that’s my plans in the future. Now it’s my own goal right now to speak about mental health and help people who need support due any circumstances whether its mental or physical illness. I want to start my own charity to help children & adults and the elderly who need a safe place when they are in need or a crisis or just a hug.
June the 27th was the date I hosted my first ever pop up session about mental illness. I was so anxious in case no one came but in fact, 20 people came.
I have started to get my faith back.
Now I am hosting more at the THOMAS project in the future. I am also going to start support groups every 2 weeks.
I want to thank Nicky for the support and the fact she had faith in me. I want to thank everyone and every reader of my blog who has supported me in this. I want to thank everyone.
I want to thank WHG for giving me the rising star award on 4th July 2018.
I want to thank Becca for being my best friend and supporting me when I have my bad days and helping me with all my ideas.
One day I hope to make my mum proud of me. I want to make my dad proud of me as well.
I won’t ever let mental illness take my voice off me again.
Screw you demons.
Just so you know, it’s okay not to be okay you know, even the happiest person in the universe has their bad days. You can get through this dark hole. I believe in you.
You are loved. You are worth the fight. You are more than your illnesses, you can fight this I believe in you. You are flawless. You are fabulous.
Love from Shannon Diana xx
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