Once at rock bottom, the only way is up. Pt2 Climbing back up

This guest post was written and shared by Hannah, 38, London.

If you haven’t yet read pt 1 – you can read that here.

The ticking bomb had finally gone off. In that moment I had decided I didn’t want to be here anymore. The world would be better off without me and I honestly believed so would everyone I knew.

Thankfully, the tube station was closed. You’d think this would be a wakeup call. The realisation of what could have been would kick in any minute now.  Nope! Instead I attempted to jump in front a bus. This was a busy road. Full of transport and people.
It was only due to the bravery of a complete stranger, that I’m still here.

I still wonder who he is as I owe him a huge thank you.

He also answered my phone which was continually going off with my sisters trying to find me and he was able to tell them where we were and what was happening. My sisters turned up and was trying to calm me down. I was having none of it. I attempted to run into the road again but my sister although shorter than me, ran at me hard and pushed me back against the wall. She then helped me in the only way she knew how. She called the police.

As the police arrived, I was furious that no one would let me “just end things”. I lost all control and lashed out. The police, along with my sisters, took me back to the eldest sisters flat. My sisters took it in turns to watch me and stop me running out of the door. I was told it was around 4am when they decided they couldn’t do it alone anymore and called the NHS to get me committed.  

I don’t remember a great deal of that night. But I do remember the paramedics giving me the choice of come of your own free will or you will be forced. Something I obviously felt at the time was completely unfair because in my head, how I was feeling was totally normal and it was my choice.

Mental illness is ruthless, it will have you believe the darkest of thoughts are true and I genuinely thought me dying would be the answer to everyone’s problems.

Photo by Hannah Xu on Unsplash

We waited in the hospital and no words were spoken between the three of us. Again my memories are vague but I do remember my sister had given me some clothes to wear as I was still in my dress and heels from the night out. I ended up wearing her boyfriends huge tracksuit bottoms, one of her t shirts and these massive fluffy slipper socks (no shoes) that were hanging off so badly I looked like I had grinch feet! I also distinctly remember trying to escape and tackle the hospital security guard who had been instructed not to let me leave. I mean, if ever there was a picture of mental illness, this is it right? One of the few things we can laugh about even now regarding this horrible time. I mean, its better to laugh then cry right?

Because I refused to admit I was ill and I had no medical history of mental illness or suicide, despite my childhood, they had to let me leave. So that night after speaking to a psychiatrist, I was free to go home. My sisters heartbroken and furious.

The following day my sisters gave me an ultimatum. “Don’t make us go through last night again. Get the help you need or you’ll need to stay away”… or words to that effect.
I was still in complete denial that I was the problem but sober me was feeling embarrassed and I owed them, so I agreed.

They took me to St Thomas’s hospital where I stayed overnight and was assessed. A nurse watched me all night, I was not happy! The following day I was taken to a secure mental health hospital and put on a psychosis ward.

I have two vivid memories of that night. Shouting at my sister, begging her not to leave me. And a fellow patient telling me how he knew we’d be reunited. Apparently we were separated in the womb’?. I was terrified and I couldn’t understand why I was there. I just kept thinking “I’m not like them”.

After having any personal item that I could use harm to myself taken away, including the toggles in my hoody, I settled into my new temporary home, angry at the world.
My sisters used to visit and after they’d leave I would tell the staff “they only come because it makes them look bad if they don’t”. I was convinced that they hated me.

However, with the help of the staff and psychiatrists I was there for just over 3 weeks. The other patients had become friends almost and I found them less scary and more quirky. But most importantly I had finally admitted I was ill.

After I came out the aftercare was amazing. I had CBT for 12 weeks. Something I wasn’t keen on at first, I just have this image of me acting like a stroppy teen with my one word replies to this incredibly patient man. But a few weeks in I looked forward to it. He was now my comfort. The coping mechanisms I learned were just mind blowing. Very much a “penny drop” moment. 

I would also see someone from the local mental health team weekly who helped with my finance and I learnt how to gain a grant for further education. As well as setting myself weekly goals.

A year or so later I started a course in hairdressing. Something I was already interested in but felt it was too late to start. And that was the moment I started to bloom again.

8 years later and I now have a successful mobile hair and beauty business and look forward to opening up my own shop in the near future.

I have an incredible group of clients who I would call friends. I absolutely love being creative with hair but without them, the joy just wouldn’t be there.

I also started exercising in 2014. I went from a size 20 to a size 12 in less than 3years. I’m now a 14 thanks to a back injury and Covid but I’m perfectly fine with that. You’ll see why below…

It took me a really long time to come to terms with having a mental illness. Even after all the help, it took a few years for me to like myself and believe I have something to offer.

Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

I’ve been professionally diagnosed with depression, anxiety and paranoia. Something I have to deal with almost daily. The smallest of triggers can sometimes consume me but I now know how to handle my symptoms and the self care I need to do to keep on top of it.

Due to the back injury, lockdown and a house move everything was a bit too much. I couldn’t train with my back and the gym is my happy place. Living alone in lockdown was also tough. Especially when I went from being totally independent to barely being able to walk.

I just didn’t feel right in my head, I had constant ringing in my ears, I could hear loud bangs that weren’t there and I was hearing voices, like the room was full of people. I was too scared to leave the house unless I was meeting someone or had an appointment, constant heart palpitations and feeling sick and my OCD was through the roof. The paranoia was back and there was a period of about a week where I woke up sad that I was still here. I felt numb. I didn’t want to kill myself, I simply just didn’t want to be here.

The coping mechanisms I’d been using the last 10 years were no longer effective. I was a different person, my situation had changed and also the symptoms were different to last time. But also I couldn’t quite believe it was back and I felt like I’d failed.

Thankfully I’m now very aware of my mental health and I know when I’m not ok. As soon as I had an “ok” day I asked for help through self-assessment. I called the doctor. That in itself felt so empowering. I could admit I was ill like it was normal. Because it is normal!

Within days (due to my history) I was on the phone to a therapist having CBT again. Just 6 weeks this time but it was exactly what I needed. Everything was put into perspective and I realised “I’m ok and I’ve got this!”. I still have down days, I’m human, but I now know it’s ok. It’s also ok to just talk to people about it openly the same way you would if you broke your leg.

I’m very open about my mental health and the feeling I got when I came to terms with the fact it’s just part of my make-up, it feels like freedom. Having control over it 99% of the time, is tough but I know myself now and luckily I know how to make me…me.

This story was written and shared by Hannah, 38, London

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