I have struggled with my mental health for a long time and this year I became aware of the factors that control my mental health. Some of these things include exercise, alcohol, relationships and alone time. Before I went to Aberdeen I was always playing sport or training but when I went to Aberdeen I completely stopped exercising for the first few weeks. I was so unhappy. I hated my course, I missed home and I had just lost my Granda. The last thing I could even think of doing was going for a run. I was living an unhealthy life style and physically it began to show. It wasn’t until when I was home for Christmas that I started to see the effect it had on my mental health. As I’ve said before I was in a really horrible place and all I was doing was going out and drinking. That leads to the alcohol situation. I was drinking a ridiculous amount and my body couldn’t handle it. I was going out as much as I could and I was drunk every night that I went out. In April I ended up in hospital after a night out. I could hardly move any of my limbs and my mum had to be called in to the hospital at some ridiculous time of the night. When I woke up in the hospital that morning all alone I just cried. I realized that morning that alcohol wasn’t just bad for my body. It was making me more depressed. It was making everything worse. I’ve always had a good relationship with my family and friends. Obviously as a teenager there were silly arguments and fights. Oh and my relationships with boys don’t always go too well and they certainly don’t tend to last too long. But all of these relationships have a huge effect on my mental health. My sister and I had to grow up a lot quicker than most of our friends and that has had a huge impact on my ability to open up to people. My sister is usually the only one who knows anything that’s going on to do with my mental health. Obviously I tell my friends about boys or college etc. but when some of your friends’ biggest worries are their nails or their boyfriends then it never really feels like the right time to say “Look, I’m really struggling and I can’t do it anymore and I really want to die”. The “I really want to die” thought leads me to the effect alone time has on my mental health. When I was younger I loved being alone and doing my own thing. When I came back from Aberdeen I hated it. I was in the house every day on my own when my family were at work or school. There’s absolutely nothing for a 19 year old girl to do in Rathmullan all day, everyday. It can be easy to get sucked in by your thoughts. These thoughts completely control you when you’re alone, they turn into feelings and before I knew it I was lying on my sister’s bed telling her that I was ready to die. Telling her I wasn’t able to do any of it anymore.
That night my mum came into my room and sat on my bed and hugged me. We both just cried and she begged me not to do anything. She told me she would get help and that it would be ok. She was right. She got me so much help. I talked to a drugs and alcohol counselor. I then went to trauma and bereavement counselling. If I hadn’t told Orla or mum exactly how I was feeling then I wouldn’t be here today. God only knows where I would be. I can now see that with every negative there is a positive. I try and exercise every day and it has completely turned my life around. Exercise has the most positive effect on my mental health. There is absolutely nothing that a run or a walk on the beach can’t cure. My sister is my best friend and I still tell her everything. She might be in Spain but she always knows if I’m having a bad day and knows exactly what to say. I have learned that I can open up to my friends and that they will be there for me. I’m not spending half as much time alone as I used to and I’m always on the go. But I now enjoy the time I do spend alone. It’s the time that I spend writing, listening to music, playing the piano or just thinking (good thoughts). I still go out and drink but I don’t drink half as much as I used to and I’ve learned that hangovers make me emotional (I cried over Kim K) but they are only temporary thoughts and not real feelings. I still haven’t mastered the art of a serious relationship. I met someone during the summer that made me feel so happy – we don’t speak anymore – but I learned that I’m in control of my happiness and before loving anyone else, you have to love yourself first.
I have so much to be grateful for. I thank god and my angels so much every day for helping me through the first half of this year. I will never be the same person I was last June before my whole world started to come down. But I’m happy with that. I’m a stronger and more confident young woman. I have been at rock bottom and I think that is where I learned one of the most important lessons in life:
“The only direction you can go when you hit rock bottom is up.”