Getting a diagnosis: Mental Health Issues

Having a mental illness is an emotional roller-coaster, right from the start. But getting a diagnosis is a life changing moment. It is both terrifying and relieving. It is also the start to your road of recovery.

Probably the first emotional you will feel is relief. Finally you will have a reason for the way you think and feel. You aren’t simply ‘crazy’, there is a reason you feel the way you do. It means you can start doing some research on what you have, and it is amazing how many times you will think “wait… that is a part of this?!”. But more than that, it is a relief to finally have something to call this demon you have been living with.

Next, you will probably feel fear. Suddenly you are officially ‘crazy’. You have a label. This isn’t just a bad phase, this is something you are going to have to learn to live with. And for some people, it is a life long struggle that may never leave completely. It is also about the time doctors start talking about therapy and specific treatments tailored for that illness. And then you have to worry about meeting the other ‘crazies’. And when you do that,  you will meet some people who are going through an even harder time than yourself and you will wonder if that is what you look like to the rest of the world. You will worry about what your friends and family will think, about how your employer will react, who you have to tell etc etc.

It is a scary place to be. And I have gone through the same emotions each time I have been given a new diagnosis.

The truth is, however, that an official diagnosis opens doors. It helps you get a tailor-made treatment plan in place and helps you explain what you are going through to others. It takes a bit of the mental strain off too. Sometimes I do or think things I don’t like… but instead of hating myself for it, now I can say “well that is [depression/ BPD/ GAD/ PTSD/ DID etc] in play”. I am not sure about other people but that certainly helps me get through the day.

Don’t hate your diagnosis. It does not define who you are… no more than a broken leg does anyway. It just tells you what you have. And once you have that, you can start looking at why you have it, what treatment is best, and most importantly how you move forward. When you first get a diagnosis, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s the end of the road, but it is just the beginning.

Make sure you take the time to research your diagnosis. I made it my business to learn all I could about mine and it gave me back some of the control that the illness had taken. For example, I had no idea that my spending issues could be traced back to my Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. I thought I was just terrible with money (which I still am lol). But now I know what the issue is, I have been able to put things in place to help. Now all my bills are paid by standing order the day the money goes into my account. That way, I can’t spend it. At least it means I am not falling behind on my bills any more! The more you understand the more you can help yourself. And it may help your family to do some research too. As my mum says, she doesn’t often like what I do but knowing the reasons behind it helps her cope. So, don’t give up. This is just the first step!

Here are links to some previous blog posts about the different things I have been diagnosed with and how they affect me:

The truth about: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The truth about: Generalised Anxiety Disorder

The truth about: Dissociative Identity Disorder

The truth about: Borderline Personality Disorder

The truth about: Depression

The truth about: Insomnia

And where to get help when you need it:



Clinging on!


So it is nearly 4am, I can’t sleep, I am in pain… so where else would I be?? 🙂 I thought I would write a positive post for once. As the readers that have been with me for a while will know, my birthday is coming up (17th April). This time of year, I usually have a dip in my mental health. I am not sure why, but I think it is because I get fed up that I have had to fight for another year. It gets me down and wears me out.

This year, however, I am not doing too badly. Whilst I can feel my mental health dipping a little, normally I would be in the gutter by now, and I am not. This is fantastic news!! When I was younger, my mood swings used to be much more frequent, and I would go up for a few weeks then down for a few. Over the years, the gaps between my dips have gradually gotten larger, and now I tend to dip in April and August. It makes sense, as both of them are anniversaries. I have hope, however, that the fact I haven’t dipped QUITE so far yet means the time between dips is once again expanding.

I still suffer with nightmares that make me wake up screaming, and I still struggle with anxiety… but the fact that I am coping a little better each year gives me hope that this battle wont be so hard forever. Of course, I could be completely wrong. It could just be that last years August dip was SO bad that my mind feels it has done its work for a while.

Either way, I am counting my blessings and enjoying it. After all, I don’t know how long this will last so I have to make the most of it while it is here.

It is hard sometimes when you are climbing a particularly tricky mountain to take the time to look down at how far you have come rather than up and how far you have to go. When I look down, it is like looking into an abyss. It is dark, and ever lasting, and miserable, and impossible. If I gaze up a little, I can see the beauty around me. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by so many beautiful people it is sometimes a wonder how I manage to feel sad at all!

So here is my advice to you… if you are reading this and have mental health problems, no matter how bad things seem right now take a second to look back. If it helps, do what I did. Set up a private Facebook group that only you have access to. Write in it all the good memories you have, all the good days you have, all the people you love and everything that makes you feel good. When you are in your darkest moments, you have a good read of that page, and remember the good times. If you do that, you will start to see the beauty around you and you will start to look at how far you have come and what you have got, not the fact that you can’t even see the top of the mountain yet because it is covered by a huge black cloud. And just think, when that cloud clears and you have reached the top…what a view you will have!!!!

That journey will have made you empathetic, sympathetic, a wealth of advice, and your muscles (strength) will be phenomenal. It doesn’t matter if you hit an icy patch and slide down the mountain a bit, because if you do it gives you the opportunity to see that view again. And that is what will help you up.

It helps, of course, if you have a guide to help you navigate and some friends to help egg you on when you get lost. You may lose some of them along the way but you know the ones that are with you when you reach the top will be with you forever. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The more people you bring with you the easier it will be. And despite what you think, you will never be alone if you don’t want to be.

Everyone has someone

Now is the time to ask for help. Be that from your best friend, your parents, your GP, your MH support worker, the crisis team or Samaritans, there is ALWAYS someone who will be willing to talk to you and who will want to help. And why not talk to other people in the same boat? After all, some will be able to help you and pull you up, and others you will be able to help, which also gives you a boost up. So what’s your excuse! Get going!

As always, my inbox is always open and I will reply to every message, though it may take a day or two as I get so many. If you feel alone, you have a friend in me!

Time to talk!

We have all heard the saying “A problem shared is a problem halved”. I am here to tell you it’s true! So now, right now, it is time to be brave. Talking is hard. At least to start with. When I write about personal things in this blog it’s never easy. But talking, in whatever medium you chose, helps you to sort things out in your head. It also helps you get the help, love, and support you need.

Many people, myself included, put the bad bits away in a box and lock it up. We hope to forget. We don’t talk about it because it hurts and we hope one day it will all go away. The problem with that is that we can’t make an airtight box in our heads. No matter what we do bits of the bad stuff leaks out and affects our lives. Sometimes in small ways and sometimes in big ways. The problem with that is you never know when that lid will fly open, and when it does you are in trouble.

When I write here, it helps me put everything in order in my head and it helps me make sense of what is going on. When I talk to my best friend, I have practical support and emotional support that never leaves. When I talk to my family I have the never-ending love that helps keep me going. When I talk to strangers I have the opportunity to help someone else. When I talk to individuals I have a chance to hold their hands through the whole process. There is nothing more powerful on this Earth than the words we have. Words can start wars and end them, cut and heal, build and tear down. Words can give or take away power, they can start a revolution, they can further our understanding of the world and they can give hope.

It is time to stop saying things and start really talking. Imagine what you can achieve. It might hurt, it might open up old wounds, it might make you uncomfortable or embarrassed. That doesn’t last long, and once you are over that hurdle there is no limit to what you can achieve. But you have to start somewhere. I am urging everyone reading this to start that conversation and stop being afraid of the stigma, or the judgement. It is time to move beyond our fear and start really helping ourselves and others.

When I was first diagnosed with mental health problems, there wasn’t a lot of help on the internet. And I didn’t know anyone else going through the same thing. I don’t want anyone else to feel that lonely and the best way to do that is to get talking. So go on, do your best. It all starts with ‘Hello!’.

The truth about Anxiety


I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder- GAD for short. That means I am anxious most of the time. It gets worse when I step out the door, and reaches boiling point when I travel somewhere I don’t know.

Everybody gets anxious from time to time, you may remember feeling worried about a new job interview, money worries, meeting your partners parents, waiting for important test results or a myriad other reasons. Your stomach ties itself in knots, you feel sick, you have heart palpitations, your face and palms start sweating, and you breathe more heavily. It is an awful feeling. Fortunately, for most, it goes relatively quickly.

In people with GAD, however, that feeling does not go. Sometimes it lessens a little bit, and sometimes it becomes so unbearable that it launches into a full-blown panic attack. I have had attacks bad enough to result in a trip to the hospital. When having a panic attack, too much oxygen gets into your system, blocking out the carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide occurs in our blood once the oxygen has been spent. As a waste product, it is something we breathe out. However the body regulates how much oxygen is circulating by measuring the carbon dioxide. With the carbon dioxide lowered, the body thinks there is too much oxygen in the body, and it causes the veins to constrict. This is why you get the tingling sensations, which can lead to fainting.

It is easy to want to tell people with anxiety to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘just get on with it’ or ‘why are you worrying? Everything will be fine’. Here is the catch. If you say any of these things, we are just going to have another thing to worry about; whether you still like us or not. If you can imagine a time when your worry was at its worst, press pause, and up the volume a few notches. That is the constant level of worry us GAD sufferers have.

My personal worries stem from my past. I worry something bad will happen to my daughter. I worry my health problems will get so bad I can’t be with her. I worry that my mum or dad might get sick. I worry that I am going to lose my grandma. I also worry about bills, my neighbours, what my future is going to be like, car crashes and people leaving me. And unexpected loud noises (it can even be sneezing) petrify me. It is also a double whammy with me, because of my BPD; meaning I feel emotions more deeply and strongly than others.

Anxiety is not just a mental disorder, it has a huge impact physically as well. My muscles are always tense, and some have even fused together causing damage that might not be fixable. That damage may mean me spending the rest of my life in pain. All from being anxious.  I also grind my teeth to the point where my nerves are starting to show, causing horrible pains. And let’s not forget feeling sick often, forgetting to eat because I was too consumed by anxiety and constantly feeling drained because the worry takes so much effort. It is not easy thinking of the worst case scenario all the time when it usually involves someone I love dying. I often lay awake at night hoping my dad is not seriously hurt in a car crash on his way home from work etc. It is the same if I am expecting someone to arrive and they are late, I think they have been involved in a car crash. It is a horrible way to live.

There is some good medications out there, I am on one that acts as a nerve suppressant, stopping so many panic signals flying at any one time. It helps a lot, but is no cure. I will just have to hope one of the therapies I try over and over again will one day work!

Panic attacks and anxiety are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign someone has been strong for too long. Keep that in mind next time you think someone is over-reacting.