Mental illness is not always obvious to the observer. I often said to my mother that if I had a broken leg everybody would be able to see what was wrong with me.
I was 20, depressed, alcoholic and anorexic. I wanted to die. But I walked around by day with a huge smile and an infectious giggle. At night I went for long walks. I cried, and I walked, and I cried, until I was exhausted. Only then could I go home and sleep.
I have been hospitalised twice, both times I agreed to it, and I went in on the understanding that I wouldn’t be there for long.
A couple of years ago I was being looked after by my local NHS Mental Health Trust. I had a psychiatrist and a Mental Health Nurse assigned to me. I was put on a couple of initiatives to help with anxiety, as I was becoming increasingly reluctant to leave the safety of my own home.
And that’s where, for me, everything started to unravel. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist but didn’t go. I couldn’t face going out. I didn’t phone to cancel because I was scared of…. something, the reason wasn’t tangible but it felt real.
This happened twice more, appointments were made that I didn’t keep and didn’t cancel. Then I got a letter saying that as I had missed my appointments I was being referred back to my GP.
That was it. No follow-up, no phone call to ask how I was doing and why I didn’t turn up to my appointments. So now I don’t have medical support. I get repeat prescriptions from my GP via the internet and only go to see my doctor if I really have to. And then I ask someone I trust to come to the appointment with me and sit in on the consultation.
Read more personal stories at https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/personal-stories