In 2005 I was ready to die but something kept me here. Soon after I sought help and my fight back began. I now teach that you can not fight a mental illness alone, we all need a HAAND. Help. Acknowledgment. Acceptance. Network. Determination.
What challenge does this story focus on?
I was always 'the weird kid / teen / young adult' in all of my social groups but there was a reason for that, an undiagnosed mental illness. My story is about how I hit the absolute rock bottom but am now in a position where I want to help others who may feel they are in a similar place as I once was.
How has this challenge affected you?
I never knew I was ill until I asked for help. It was then I knew I needed to focus on myself and my own well being. The journey from my near suicide to today has been long. Years of therapies, assessments and meetings followed by a variety of medications to find one that would finally work. It's not been easy.
What has or is helping you to move forward with this challenge?
I want to make a change. I am tired of awareness campaigns that just fizz away into nothing once the day or week has finished. Mental illness carries on, everyday, and I want to keep pushing this to people. I'm driven by action over awareness and me sharing my story in text or by spoken word is my way of moving forward.
What have you learnt as a result of this challenge?
That I can make a difference. I have spoken at a few events now and the response has always been overwhelming. Mental illness effects so many people in one way or another and so many of those people have no idea how to reach out and ask for help. Hosting talks with open and honest Q&A sessions after is incredibly rewarding.
How do you use this learning in your life now?
I am thankful for every opportunity I have to speak to others and my journey is one that many people can relate to, they just don't necessarily want to talk about it. But it's ok to open up and ask for help. I see this as a strength, not a weakness. You need supportive people in your life.
What positive message would you like the reader to go away with?
I do not believe that you need to be strong to live with a mental illness but you can not fight it alone. Every once in a while, we all need a HAAND and this is where I believe we can all make a difference. For me, seeking HELP was important, it meant I didn't feel alone. I then ACKNOWLEDGE(d) the facts regarding my situation and ACCEPT(ed) that it was going to take time to get better. I surrounded myself with a strong NETWORK of people who supported me and understood what I was dealing with. And most of all, I found power in DETERMINATION. I wanted to succeed and take back ownership of my life. On the back of this I have built a website and will push hard to work with as many people as I can and make a difference.