My parents split up when I was 3 years old and it was far from amicable. What I remember most from my childhood is a lot of arguing, screaming and even violence. My parents were two sides of the spectrum: my Mum was domineering, controlling, manipulative, abusive at times and caused me a lot of stress; I'd see my Dad every other weekend and it was like a holiday to have him be so relaxed and laid back, not putting any pressure on my sisters and I.
For a few years as a young child, my Mum worked nightshift and instead of letting my Dad look after us my Gran would babysit me and my older sister (my oldest sister is 8 years my senior and didn't need a babysitter). My Gran favoured my older sister, and was often cruel to me. She never paid me much attention, purposefully didn't buy me the same treats as my sister, and if I was sick she wouldn't even feed me. My Mum knew this was going on, supposedly thought it was awful (as she opened up in recent years), but did nothing.
I started self-harming when I was 8 years old. I would get so angry and frustrated that I'd lash out, bruising my thighs with my fists.
This continued until high school where I stopped for a while but the pain inside didn't. Living at home with my Mum was only getting worse. I had big plans to go to St Andrews University to study History and Archaeology but didn't see how I could possibly escape my family. School became my safe space: I wasn't particularly loved - I was boisterous, bold, spoke and laughed loudly, always stuck out - but I had a group of people that I would see everyday that didn't despise me, and it was a break from home. I felt I could be myself as I was an extroverted, shameless kind of person.
I tried to tell my Mum once that I was having mental health issues. She was very angry about this, and told me that I wasn't allowed to get help unless I wrote it all down for her to read first. I couldn't. Then, after an incredibly stressful morning before school - I left early as I always did but locked my Mum and sister inside the house because they didnt have their keys so had to go home and let them out, my Mum was very angry and blamed me for the entire situation - I went crying to my Head of House, who then contacted my Mum. This made her even angrier. My Head of House offered to organise a family meeting with someone who could help: my Mum insisted nothing was wrong and didn't speak to me for days.
I spent a lot of nights alone in my room crying. I would sob about everything. I never felt safe.
Every loud noise was my Mum stomping upstairs to yell at us. We did a lot of chores at home and when they weren't done to a certain standard then it was like we had done a personal harm to her. I was terrified of asking to go out with friends. We didn't really get regular pocket money and we weren't that well off. I left my football club in 3rd year because I lost all my self-esteem. I was slowly losing everything. I was lucky to be naturally talented at school work because I couldn't focus enough at home to study.
By the time I was in 4th year I was so alone, depressed, anxious and scared that I started thinking someone was with me. Her name was Stacey, and I based her off a baby my Mum and Dad had years before my oldest sister who died early on from a brain tumour. She came with me everywhere. She spoke to me, and I could feel her touch, and see her face. This progressed for about 9 months until she started telling me to die, to end my life, and I got so scared of her that I cut deeply a few times. I thought I had ‘lost it’, and knew I couldn't hold on.
I tried complete suicide for the first time when I was 16. There had been a big argument in the house and I couldn't take anymore. I got out the stash of pills that I had been building up and took them all at 6pm one night. I woke up the next day at 3pm, feeling fuzzy but ultimately fine physically. I went downstairs and it was like nothing had happened; no one had noticed how long I had been asleep, and everyone was 'getting on' again. I was so defeated.
I moved out as soon as I could, despite my Mum trying to guilt trip me otherwise. I started at the University of Edinburgh in September 2014 studying History and Archaeology. By semester two I was already struggling even though I had started anti-depressants, and that April I took another overdose. This time I had planned it. I woke up the next morning, feeling horrible and terrified. I panicked and messaged my friend who begged me to go to hospital. I went, got the drugs cleared out, and they sent me away the next day. I went right back to the way I was before, and by the end of September the same year I was back in hospital with another overdose. This time they had to keep me for longer as the overdose was more severe. They put me forward for a therapist and sent me away.
I started seeing my therapist and since then things got better.
However I've had a lot of close calls since then - just last night I was staring at my tablets thinking that maybe it was time to try again. Failed relationships are now a major trigger of mine. I get very stressed out, and I'm a perfectionist. I lost a lot of friends through trying to cut out toxic people, so spend most of my free time alone. My biggest problem is probably the image I have of myself. I feel like I've failed. I'm a university dropout; my only legitimate romantic relationship just ended after three months; I'm not desirable or lovable or worth fighting for. I'm tired of fighting this feeling inside me all the time. I'm desperate to socialise, to see people, but I've become terrified of being abandoned. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder alongside depression, but I can't help feel there’s something more dysfunctional to my emotions and relationships.
Mostly I want to share my story with people who struggle like I do and give others the guidance that I never got.
I have spent my entire life for other people and I still don't know how to live for myself. I hate to think that there are other people in this world that feel like their existence is an empty pit in which they'll be buried one day. That's how I feel. I still keep going though, I think purely out of spite at this point. Sometimes I feel so terrible that I've gone back to hitting myself, pulling my hair and screaming. But I keep going. I go to work, I watch my TV shows, I take myself out when I have the money, visit people when they're free. I try to give myself a goal - doing my SVQ2 in Care is my next step in a good direction (there's no right direction, which is something I've learned from leaving University). It feels like a horrible existence, but I despise the mental illness more than my life, and I'm determined that the bastard will not be the end of me.
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