Hey gals and guys,
As it mental health awareness week I thought I would write a blog about my own struggles.
I first noticed that something wasn’t right when I was 15 years old.I can’t quite describe it.It was as if I woke up one day and this dark mist took over in my mind.I began to feel sad,unloved,worthless and my self-esteem hit rock bottom.I had a great life so I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt this way.I tried to verbalise it to my mum but she dismissed it as being teenage hormones(which parents often do).I pushed these feelings to the side but started acting out in other ways.I was underage drinking,staying out until all hours and I noticed that boys found me quite alluring all of a sudden.I tried to find my self esteem in my first sexual relationship.
My parents thought I was just going through the usual teenage rebellion phase and I never made them none the wiser.I thought they would blame themselves for my problems.My little sister,Grace,was born on the 28th of October 2004.That day will forever stick out in my mind for one reason.As I visited and held my baby sister for the first time in the hospital I felt true love.I knew no matter how bad things got for me I had to be here to protect her.As I held this tiny human in my arms and she looked up at me with nothing but innocence in her eyes I swore I would do everything in my power to make life better for her.
I continued to struggle though.I thought if my own biological father (who had abandoned me at the age of 2 years old)couldn’t love me enough to be in my life then who could actually ever want me.After my relationship broke down I numbed myself with endless nights out in bars drinking and having meaningless sexual encounters (which led to me getting Chylmedia also),hoping the next guy would love me enough to stick around,but they never did.I wallowed in my sadness.
At 17 years I had to move schools as my current secondary school didn’t do entry exams for college/university.I wanted to go to the same school as my friends but my parents made me attend the school that achieved the top grades in these exams.I hated it at my new school.I was bullied by some teachers for being Catholic (I was one of the only four Catholics in a predominately Protestant school).I was failing my classes too as I began to skip lessons to spend time with my childhood sweetheart Mark who I had reconnected with.For a while I felt content.All my happiness rested in my relationship with Mark so when it became troubled and toxic,my insecurities were exacerbated.It didn’t matter what he did I would always forgive him even though my friends would try to make me see sense.
After I found out Mark has kissed another person one time I made a decision that still haunts me to this day.One that will have an effect on me for the rest of my life.I attended a house party in my friend’s house and a few of the boys from my old high school were there.There was a boy there who I had a brief 6 month fling with (non-sexual as we were 14 years old).We had remained friends throughout high school but had lost touch when I moved schools so it was nice to catch up.Heartbroken and pissed off at what Mark had done I stupidly got drunk.I don’t remember much but coming out of my friend’s bathroom and this old high school fling standing there after I opened the bathroom door.I thought he was waiting to go in but instead he asked me to come sit down on the bed in the bedroom next door so I did.I remember sitting on the bed and then slumping down.I must have blacked out because all I remember then is I was naked and he was on top of me having sex with me.I froze.I then remember seeing some light coming into the dark room and noticed the bedroom door was open.There was actually a group of boys watching this guy have sex with me and they were cheering him on.I must have blacked out again because the next thing I know I am downstairs on my friends sofa,fully clothed and cuddling Mark.I actually have a photo of me after it happened cuddling Mark on the sofa.I don’t remember giving consent but I was that drunk that I could have.I have never told my parents or friends this.I just blocked it out for a long time until I told William.He is the only person in my life that knows about it.I’m ashamed is the simple answer as to why I have never spoke up.
I haven’t dealt with it and I never will.Its just not something I want to remember so the longer is stays blocked in my memory the better.Just writing about it now is bringing tears to my eyes.As my relationship with Mark continued to deteriorate I began self-harming.I blamed myself for everything and the only release from the torment inside my body/mind was to cut myself.I began self-harming by slashing the soles of my feet because noone would see the scars there.I still have the scars to this day which is why I claim to hate feet.I wear socks all the time (even during sex 😂)Then when our relationship brokedown I began self-harming on my arms.I then shut myself off from the world.I stopped going out at all.I would spend all my time in my bedroom curled up in my duvet staring blankly at the tv.As months went by my mother became worried.Finally with William by my side I broke down and revealed to her the stash of pills I had been saving up to try take my own life.She hugged me so tight and promised she would get me help.
I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with depression and started me on medication.I began my relationship with William and little by little I improved but it was not to last.As my relationship with William became volitile and the domestic violence began I was hit with the weight of keeping my problems a secret again.I decided to seek councelling but I was not actually ready for the help.I was using it as a way to try vindicate myself in any of the wrongdoings in our relationship instead of actually speaking about my mental health.As the years went by I distanced myself from most of my friends.I again stopped going out unless William was there.I was afraid to go out on my own.I would get anxiety at the thought of leaving the house to go into town to do the shopping on my own even.William came everywhere with me.Then the actually panic attacks kicked in.I would wake up barely able to breath,tears would silently fall down my cheeks and I felt like I was dying.
William tried to fix my mental health problems by bringing me out with his friends more but then he would disappear to mingle forcing me to be on my own with strangers.This only made my anxiety worse.My relationship with William suffered enormously as I stopped communicating with him for fear he would force me into situations.We would argue all the time and it got to a point were we stopped spending time with each other.I realised I didnt love him but I felt trapped in the relationship as he had control of our finances etc.
Then my Dad had his road traffic accident and I hit the lowest point in my entire life but it was also what made me change my life for the better eventually.My mental health was in tatters during this time.I went into pure and utter shock.I literally stopped talking!I couldn’t physically get any words out except to ask the important questions every so often.I just sat silently with tears streaming down my face in the waiting room.When my sister arrived in Galway I had been given Xanax which snapped me out of the shock enough to function infront of her.Once I knew Dad wasn’t going to die I decided I was.I had made up my mind to take my own life.It was the only way I felt I could escape my relationship,my insecurties,my pain and the voices inside my head.I thought everyone would be better off without me.Grace was now grown up enough and wise beyond her years so she no longer needed me.
The night I decided I was going to take my own life as I detailed in the blog on my Dad’s accident is also the night my younger sister saved my life without knowing it.She is truly my guardian angel.After a late night visit to see Dad in the hospital(I had said my goodbye to him that night while he was in a coma)mam asked William and I to take Grace back to the apartment so she could go to bed.We brought her back and I climbed in beside her to read a chapter of Harry Potter to her.I told her not to worry,that Dad would get better.I told Grace how much I loved her before wishing her a goodnight.As I was about to get up to leave Grace said to me”Everything is going to be ok Shauna.I am here if you ever need to talk”.Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I don’t know why those few words woke me up out of what felt like a year’s long emotional nightmare but I am so thankful they did.I looked at Grace and the tears streamed down my face.She hugged me and I told her I would always be here if she ever needed to talk about anything.I had planned to hang myself that night but it became the night I started to face my problems head on.It was like a switch had been flipped in my head hearing those words from Grace.The urge to fight my demons became my number one priority.
I was finally ready for professional help.Lidl organised a counceller for me and opening up about my mental health fully to my family,friends and counceller felt like a weight had been lifted off of me.Day by day as I employed the techniques I was taught by my counceller I became stronger.I ended my relationship with William which changed me over night.I found my own voice again.I felt empowered making decisions for myself.I went out with friends regularly.I began to exercise which cleared my mind.It wasn’t long before I was deemed fit enough mentally to come off all medication for my mental illnesses.I finished up my councelling after 6 months.
Its coming up to a year since I came off my medication and stopped councelling.I have had a few times when things overwhelmed me especially when I was living with William when he refused to move out after our break-up.Instead of bottling it up I would ring my mother and tell her exactly what was going on.I think my mother seeing first hand my panic attacks while I was with her in the hospital as we waited on news of Dad helped her understand how badly I was suffering.I used to try to keep my mental health problems hidden from my parents out of fear they’d blame themselves or be ashamed of me which I now know is ridiculous.My mother and my friend Elaine have been my two biggest support systems these last two years as I dealt with depression and anxiety.
I am not going to say I am cured because unfortunately there is no cure for mental illness,only long-term treatment.Its disgraceful that in 2018 there is still a stigma of shame and guilt attached to mental illness which stops people from reaching out to talk to anyone about their struggles so instead they commit suicide.I still have panic attacks from time to time.My anxiety is high with finishing up in Lidl,leaving my family and friends to move to Australia but the hardest part in all this is leaving Keith.I have had two panic attacks today alone but I just stop what I am doing,sit down,breath in and out,I concentrate on one thing which helps me to focus and this in turn slows down my mind and returns my heart rate back to normal.Instead of holding back the tears I let my emotions flow unapologetically.
I am proud of all I have over come.I have a sense of self-love,self-worth and self-esteem but these are all things I still need to work on to get to were they should be.I want to be a role model for Grace to show her that mental illness does not make you weak but that its those who struggle with these issues on a daily basis that are brave.If this blog helps even one person then it’ll be worth laying my soul bare for anyone to see.
My co-workers and I will be doing a charity walk this Saturday with the organisation Pieta House called ‘Darkness into Light” to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention and those suffering with mental health issues.If you feel like donating please search the internet for the “Darkness into Light” charity walk.Our team is called “Lidl bit of Hope”if you would like to donate and I have also attached a link below.Remember its ok not to be ok and lets keep talking about mental health.
Link below for “Darkness into Light” charity walk:
Positive vibes always,