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Asking for help when struggling with mental illness

Rambling_blogRambling_blog Member Posts: 1 Listener
edited July 2018 in Guest blogs
Megan is 21 years old, she has struggled with her mental health since her early teens. Today she talks about her journey and the importance of getting help.

You see, it was exactly a year ago that I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and put on medication. However, it wasn’t the first time I had mentioned my mental health; I’d tried to tell various people in my teens that I just wasn’t feeling happy or, indeed, feeling anything at all, but every time it was passed off as teenage hormones and was not paid attention to. I was terrified the same would happen this time.

I refused to let myself think there was something wrong with me, until my boyfriend, Steve, suggested I go to the doctors. Suddenly it all made sense. The way I was feeling made sense; constantly anxious and jittery and sick and not like me at all, a bit rocky and unsteady and on the verge of being completely overwhelmed and constantly fragile, like I could break at a moments notice.

So I phoned and booked an appointment on my 3rd try (for the first two my anxiety had stopping me being able to say anything so I just hung up). Leading up to the appointment, I was very withdrawn, and my moods were more unpredictable than ever. At work I was me, just a slightly quieter, but then I’d come home and be hit with an overwhelming sadness - they type that just makes you want to curl up in a ball, frantically trying to stay afloat while the little anxiety demon sits on your chest pushing you down, and simultaneously not having the energy to do anything but stare at the wall, unable to pinpoint exactly why you’re crying and wishing you could stop being a person with responsibilities, just for a little while.

Then the day of the appointment arrived, and I was a nervous wreck. I woke up with bad butterflies in my tummy and an overwhelming feeling of “I can’t do this”. I got up, dressed and went to the doctors in a kind of haze, I sat in the waiting room shaking uncontrollably and when my name was called, unsteadily walked through to the doctors room. I say down and when asked “what can I do for you?” burst into tears and didn’t stop for the next 15 minutes of the appointment. She asked me lots of questions about my life and ended up writing me a prescription. I was expecting to feel upset about that, let down by the chemicals in my own brain, but instead I was just relieved. Relieved I wasn’t crazy or hormonal, relieved that someone else thought there was a problem that needed fixing, relieved that I was listened to and what was going on in my brain was somewhat justified by the prescription slip she handed me.

Now I have been off them for a month now. I know I need to book another doctors appointment soon; my depression is nowhere near as bad but my anxiety levels have recently been off the charts. Ironically, I moved out a few weeks ago which means I need to find a new doctor near me which is making me super anxious too but hey, swings and roundabouts right? 

But just because the dark clouds that were lingering over me are letting some sunlight trickle through, does that mean I’m completely better? It's hard to know if you’re ever really cured, there is no blood test to determine if you’re 100% better, but depression is not the same for everyone; it's not just feeling sad, but it is all consuming. When it has you in it’s grasp it can take over your whole life and can stop you being a functioning human being entirely. Which is why we need to allow ourselves to treat mental illnesses the same as physical illnesses. We have to admit when we’re suffering and ask for help when we need it. We need to allow ourselves to take a day, a week or however long it takes to recover when you’re battling something real and scary, that needs attention and is extremely hard to heal from. So, we need to allow ourselves to not be okay and, more than anything, stop deciding for ourselves what is going on inside other people’s heads and believe them when they say they’re struggling.

How do you believe we view mental illness? Have you reached out for help? Let us know in the comments!


  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Member Posts: 2,906 Disability Gamechanger
    Most people I know view mental health issues separately from physical health problems and something that happens to other people. I am only person in my family who has sought help by myself for my mh issues and I’m treated like the crazy one. I recently took offence with my brother who called 
    me a psycho for disagreeing with him. I know I’m not crazy or a psycho I’m just honest and sensitive. That’s why I limit the time I spend around people who are negative about mental health. Over the years I’ve had various reactions to seeking help and mostly it has been positive. What I do find though is that the more upset or emotional I am at the time the easier it is to get help from certain doctors. I suffer from avoidance issues and it takes a lot for me to go to the doctors. So either I’m completely blank and just trying to get through it or I’m a wreck. Lots of times I will cancel appointments on the day or just before because I can’t deal with the anxiety. I think there should be more ways for people with anxiety to be able to access NHS services. For example it’s very unfair that many services if you miss two appointments you are put off the list. Even when you have legitimate reasons. That’s discrimination in my opinion. I have found that other charitable organisations in my area are very much more able to provide the appropriate support depending on their resources. I have had good experiences using them and really don’t know what I would have done otherwise. In other areas of my life like accessing volunteering and learning I have found mainly positive responses to my mental health issues and supportive attitudes. I think it’s getting better but a ways to go where I live anyway. Younger people are much more open and willing to deal with m h issues as regular health stuff and I think educating children about it is one way forward. Sites like this which cover all aspects of health are fantastic at breaking down barriers and putting everyone on equal footing. Thanks Scope. 
    I am a fibro warrior !💜♏️
  • crippscripps Member Posts: 412 Pioneering
    Great post 👍 i know exactly how you feel I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for years and every time i asked for help they just told me to stop being silly and get on with myself. Mental illness is something i except that i have now and with doing so helps me get through life. I’ve also been in hospital and to different clinics and with making the effort I’ve now got help, it’s going to take time but hopefully one day i can wake up and just be happy , don’t get discouraged with the mental health services they do there best with what they have just stick to your guns and help will come.  Take care. NC
  • feirfeir Member Posts: 396 Pioneering
    edited July 2018
    For some people getting help, asking for it in particular, can have more deep rooted issues. Especially if their mental health has been caused by neglect (so you've been told you don't deserve help or support as a default), and if you find rejection painful.

    There's a topic on here asking us what we think schools should be teaching. I was going to add something about mental health but decided not to when i realised that unless you've directly experienced things to do with mental health it is unlikely you'll understand what they mean. And without proper understanding of mental illnesses we will get misinformation (and problems that come along with that).

    Debbie above mentions psycho, most people will not know what a psychopath even is unless they've met one (and seen the real person behind their facade). They'll have an idea of what one is without knowing one but they will not know entirely, funny thing is most people will likely have come into contact with an actual psychopath and not realised that either. And that's kind of how misunderstood mental health is.

    Hope that makes sense.
  • Lisa1980Lisa1980 Member Posts: 10 Listener
    I got turned down my rm and now I waiting for my appeal do eny one no will I win it back for my medical health can eny tell me if thay have won appeal for the medical health 
  • HSRpsychologyHSRpsychology Member Posts: 1 Listener
    This is a great post, well done for talking about it and being part of breaking the stigma. For you to go and talk to a doctor is a great accomplishment, every step is positive, you're doing great :) 
  • TreksterTrekster Member Posts: 14 Connected
    I have one objection and that's referring to a disability of any type as "something wrong with you" as that implies non disabled folk have everything right with them and that disability is wrong.

    I do have long term mental health problems. Anxiety and depression have affected me for 30 years and complex ptsd for the past 24.

    Managing mental health can be a full time job, but everyone has mental health and anyone can be affected by mental health problems at sometime in their lives.

    I'm as open as I can be about my mental health with people. Anyone who has a problem with it I tend to avoid. But that's my way of coping with life I've had these challenges since I was a young child.

    I'm a lifelong supporter of mind and volunteer once a week in one of their charity shops.

    I read up on mental health where I can especially self help books. I try and take action where I can to change what is adversely affecting my mental health. I'm on a course run by volunteers which isn't ideal, but as my community mental health team have told me "there's no more therapies" and to "use the strategies I've already been given" when I can't even remember them.

    They're so short staffed with extensive waiting lists that once they think they've helped you enough they withdraw support.

    My current team are the ones trying to take my autism diagnosis away from me. 
  • Pippa_AlumniPippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,851 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for sharing this with us @Trekster- it sounds as though you're very well informed about self-advocacy. If we can be of any assistance, please do let us know. 
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Rambling_blog Pleased to meet you Good to you have written this Understand the complex nature of any illness is difficult.

    All of us who are of a certain age recall in horror of going to a Doctor a usually those who had one. In a rural practice long time ago. You presented yourself with symptoms of feeling down, anxious and really fed up.

    The demeanour, attitude of the Doctor still writing from the previous patient. His notes you want to talk you need to say what is happening. 

    How can I talk he is still writing. Struggling then and having the gall to order you out to the waiting room. Many times.

    All I wanted was help and support. Someone to understand this down feeling, the anxiety of waking up with huge butterflies and hurting to say what is wrong.

    Back then in the seventies and eighties it was viewed as not being something to talk about. Something perceived to just whisper and not admit you had problems.

    Especially if you were a man. Men did not have issues.  Solace in a bottle helped. For about thirty years it helped. Being an alcoholic and using the addiction to realise you were needing help.

    What did not help me also was being in a family who just did not believe in getting ill.  Being ill was colds and flu not mental illness. Never heard of it. Attitudes of the local village.  In the sixties, seventies were had that.  No one said anything.

    Only by recognising by leaving home seeking some sort of help. I knew I had issues and problems. One Doctor told me this another that. Medication followed and now suddenly I was facing a lifetime of medication.

    Having beaten the addiction through rehab and still it continuing.  Just know now having a drink led to my anxiety. Now absent for eleven years. Good but the anxiety and depression are always there.

    What concerns me then as of now the lack of empathy, sensitivity and knowledge to deal with all of this.

    I try and cope with my own problems but want to reach out to others. You can not do enough to support and help yourself.

    The big issue for me is the never ending cycle of trying to find some support. Getting that support then after a time cut off or told. Contract finished usually either told by Email last charity.

    Not the charities fault ever. Just an ever growing conveyer belt of so many people wanting help and support. Overburden staff. Underfunded and heavy works loads are making the system buckling.

    As for NHS services stretched as with every one you wish to ask for some support.

    Now I have done a loads of courses. Got qualifications.  That is what I say look how diet, lifestyle can be effective in your treatment.

    Looked at lots of self improvement courses. Self esteem.  Always get days of up and down moods, depression and anxiety. Who doesn't but is me and I can cope and have the tools to do it.

    I want to share and talk not be cooped up into a box with a label. Hate labels and boxes.

    Smashed all that up and want to tell and be me.

    Had one charity told you can not do this, not allowed to discuss and talk. All wrong to me. I was told off in a support group meeting. For discussing mental health.

    So am I back to the past. I do feel now it seems every time I see an article on the media about mental health. It is another small step to discuss and be open of how we can deal with this illness.


    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
    Mental Health advice, guidance and information to all members
    Nutrition, Diet, Wellbeing, Addiction.
  • TopkittenTopkitten Member Posts: 1,263 Pioneering
    I think I must have always been a little different to most as I have never had any issues with admitting to others that I have problems either physical or mental in nature. I do disagree with the idea that it isn't something wrong though. I think that, as time goes by, they will discover chemical processes within the brain that cause such problems as they have with some issues already.

    My father died in an RTC when I was 27 (back in 1984) and I have been in and out of depression ever since. Having relationship problems throughout most of my life did not help at all though. It is though very easy to convince yourself that a MH issue is your own fault and that was something people around me used to impress on me often in my 20's and 30's. I have found since though that suffering one MH issue can often lead to more especially if a persons physical health becomes problematic as well.

    Having started with depression I found my physical health deteriorating and anxiety quickly followed. As the depression deepened into severe I then added panic attacks and agoraphobia. The physical issues or rather a lack of support of them has led to paranoia and being OCD since my teens has made the process quicker still. Often now I don't know which is the largest of my MH issues and often tell people in the health service what is wrong in differing order depending very much on my state of mind at the time.

    It is certain though that the health system is not set up to deal with MH issues properly and certainly drops the ball badly when combined with or caused by physical issues. I have found myself batted from one group to another at times always with the idea that it is someone else's problem and that is a very sad way to treat those that need the most help.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • TreksterTrekster Member Posts: 14 Connected
    I am a little confused tk because you agree that it is something wrong with someone and then say mental health problems not one's own fault. But that's what is meant by something wrong with you, ie you're messed up etc. 
  • feirfeir Member Posts: 396 Pioneering
    edited August 2018
    I agree that mental illness is not usually the persons fault. Usually they have either been raised around dysfunctional people or they've had something to deal with that their brain was not ready for but they tried to make sense out of it anyway (not knowing how to and/or not realising the thing they are trying to make sense out of cannot make sense to them).
    Edit: also, some mental illnesses revolve around trying to keep yourself safe when that is not possible, or facing up to a reality that is hard for that person to cope with.
    There'll be other stuff that causes them as well as well but even the mental disorders that are thought to be epigenetic have to be 'switched on' and something needs to trigger those too.

    I'm considered mentally ill because i have depression, and according to medical criteria i have this, but in western society is it actually natural for humans to remain housebound and in pain without any proper support? Not really. They'd be given aides and help to continue having some quality of life if able to do so (and human rights acknowledges this too). So am i really ill or am i dealing with unfair circumstances that one might consider a form of torture and so my circumstances are the real illness and my depression is a result of that?
  • crippscripps Member Posts: 412 Pioneering
    Hi there, just read your post and i think it’s great, mental illness is a strange one to understand and cat arise, i myself have mental illness with depression and anxiety I’ve had counselling and i have a mental health team and there all there to keep me on the straight and narrow. I think my mental illness started from when the abuse started and i don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I’ve never hidden my mental illness from anyone and i never will because it’s something I’m not shamed of and It be wrong to do so . I’ve always wondered how things would be if i wasn’t like i am would things be better or would they be worse thats something I’ll never know. The hardest thing coping with my health is being on my own i also think it will take me to an early grave. 
  • TopkittenTopkitten Member Posts: 1,263 Pioneering
    @Trekster, I believe that someday, when they understand how the brain functions much better, they will find that mental illness can be caused by chemical imbalances or functions (or lack of them) within the brain. They already believe some of this about a few problems but it's all still sketchy. Of course how people are treated or how they are taught will have an effect on such things also. So, in a way, it is both their fault and not their fault at the same time. One thing I am absolutely certain of is the sheer amount of stress people are under at all times now. As my life has gone by I have seen this increase generally but dramatically in the last decade or so. It cannot be good for people to be so stressed all the rime. I remember seeing a TV program back in the 80's or 90's which showed the figures for suicide were highest in the world in Japan and they attributed it to stress caused by high family expectations in achieving well in school and university. You would think that knowing this people would pressure their children less but instead it has become more mostly due to the job market being harder to enter and succeed in.

    I don't know if there is any way to reverse the current trend but I suspect not. Modern day isolation hasn't helped either which has now become voluntary. Where kids always went out a lot when I was young now they don't. In part this is down to technology but also the fear of something happening to them. I personally don't believe it is that much more dangerous now but, as it is much more reported, it has instilled a terrible fear in parents. Obviously there are few figures to support this view as such things were never reported when I was young but I do believe, from the stories I have heard over the years, that it was just as dangerous but people couldn't fear what wasn't talked about.

    I have found it interesting seeing the changes in science over the decades and how some things now seem simple that used to be so hard and completely misunderstood. Hopefully they will continue to research things as well as they used to and maybe someday they really will be able to cure many things that cant be now. Mind you, it does seem that as they do so more new things appear. I guess it's Nature's way of trying to balance the world.

    I do worry though that maybe the human race is causing itself problems. The law by which most species on the planet exist is "survival of the fittest" but not for us humans. We maintain people with negative survival traits and we also bypass nature's way of restrictions when people cannot have children by artificial means. It may be a slow process but it must have an effect on our survival chances as a whole because eventually we will have many unfit people supported by only a few fit ones. It's already becoming obvious that intelligence levels are getting lower as intelligent people now restrict their breeding in order to have a better lifestyle. An example of this is the IQ level. When I was in my 20's you needed an IQ of 160 to be classed as a "genius" but now it only needs to be 150 for the same classification. It's a sad endorsement that our efforts to maintain life is having a negative impact. Mind you, we only apply this to humans and we will continue to allow people completely unfit to cope to go on suffering when any animal in the same state would be put down. You have to wonder why they act this way. Well, I certainly do, lol!

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • thespicemanthespiceman Member Posts: 6,408 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Lisa1980 Pleased to meet you . Sorry what you are going through. I am sure a lot of the community can identify your problems with your mental health.

    I know I am one.  Concerned very much. For your well being.  All I can add is there any body who you can turn to for support.  May  I ask . Please if you feel you need to talk to some one. Might be worth contacting the Samaritans.

    I know the mental health charity  MIND has a lot of useful information on their website

    .Understand I am waiting for my PIP outcome myself and am some days get anxiety over the whole thing.You are not alone.  Am here to listen anytime.

    Take care

    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
    Mental Health advice, guidance and information to all members
    Nutrition, Diet, Wellbeing, Addiction.
  • newbornnewborn Member Posts: 713 Pioneering
    Thoughtful post, top kat. 
  • TreksterTrekster Member Posts: 14 Connected
    cripps said:
    Hi there, just read your post and i think it’s great, mental illness is a strange one to understand and cat arise, i myself have mental illness with depression and anxiety I’ve had counselling and i have a mental health team and there all there to keep me on the straight and narrow. I think my mental illness started from when the abuse started and i don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I’ve never hidden my mental illness from anyone and i never will because it’s something I’m not shamed of and It be wrong to do so . I’ve always wondered how things would be if i wasn’t like i am would things be better or would they be worse thats something I’ll never know. The hardest thing coping with my health is being on my own i also think it will take me to an early grave. 
    Mine did as well with exception to two of my disabilities which are only partly related to mental health problems. 

    I surpress my physical and mental pain to an extent resulting in becoming very ill, overloaded and stressed. 

    After some fighting I got my complex ptsd diagnosis. Now the same team that refused to accept I could have autism and another mental health problem at the time has removed my autism diagnosis after my records from before 2012 went missing. 

    So at first I can't be autistic and have a mental health problem (despite 66% of autistics having secondary mh problems) then I can't have a mh problem and autism.

    I'm passed off as a complex case so no one wants to work with me, but no reason why I have not been referred back to the complex cases team.

    Moved around like the proverbial unwanted package. Even my non mental health related disabilities are harder to treat. They weren't even recognised until 10 years after the original abuse occurred.

    I'm stuck no idea where to go now. Looking for effecting autism and cptsd aware bereavement counselling. 
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Everyone who has spoken about their mental health issues on here are truly inspirational and very brave.  My husband has mental health issues (he has recently been diagnosed with Mixed Personality Disorder and OCD) and so has daily struggles in life which I am trying to support him with as much as I can.  His issues are compounded by the fact that he is my carer and he is a bit of a loner and doesn't keep in touch with family and friends, which I do try to encourage him to do.  He is reluctant to seek any other help, not believing in counselling and he also has a lot of social phobias which isolates him a lot from society.  He is a fantastic guy (I am obviously biased) and he can be happy go lucky one minute and then the next minute, in the depths of despair; not knowing how to control his emotions.  It is really upsetting seeing him like that.  He hasn't long been diagnosed with mental health issues, but I am really hoping that with my support he can seek more help.  Sometimes I feel that I am struggling more in dealing with his mental health issues than he is and just wonder if this is a normal feeling for a family member to have?  I do feel guilty for feeling like that as I probably should be stronger for him.  I can only hope that things improve for my husband in the future.  Thanks for listening.  Wishing you all well.  :-)
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • Pippa_AlumniPippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,851 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for sharing this with us @Ails- I'm sure many others will be able to relate. You may like to contact Carers UK, to see if there's any practical support or advice they could offer to you both?

    Carers UK information, support and advice
    We provide information, support and advice to carers. The information and advice we provide covers a range of subjects relating to caring including:
    • Benefits and tax credits
    • Carers employment rights
    • Carers assessments and how to get support
    • Services available to carers
    • How to complain effectively and challenge decisions
    You can email us or contact us and we will respond to your enquiries within 5 working days, although it can often be sooner.
    Our telephone helpline providing information is open on Mondays and Tuesday between 10am and 4pm - 0808 808 7777
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanks Pippa for the help and advice.  I will look into Carers UK and give them a call. 
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
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