My name is Willow – I am a 28-year-old mother living and working on the Costa del Sol.
I’m here wanting to tell you my story of survival and what it’s like living with a mental illness.
I’m hoping that by telling you my story and the challenges I go through on a daily basis will not only inspire you but also give you that little bit of HOPE to carry on fighting this uphill battle and to not feel alone.
I’ve suffered from it for most of my life. Looking back I can pinpoint exactly when I knew that I was different.
I now look back and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life, that I was a young, talented and bubbly person. Unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by my demons.
Having been diagnosed with Bipolar & Anxiety disorder nearly 6 years ago, I know that there is not one aspect of my life that has gone untouched by this mental illness.
My bipolar and anxiety disorder were triggered by a sexual attack which took place 8 years ago.
A few weeks after the attack, it had all just gotten too much and I decided to end my life – I was too tired to carry on fighting. I was found by my mum & dad with minutes left to spare & rushed by ambulance to hospital. I was quizzed about why did I want to take my life, that I had a loving family, I was young and had my whole life ahead of me.
I could see people looking at me and thinking … Why?
The truth is, when you hit such a low point, you don’t think about anyone else, you don’t feel. I felt numb, I didn’t care about anything.
For months after the attack, I suffered horrific nightmares and I was unable to sleep alone. I obsessively thought I was being followed or looked at. I suffered panic attacks on a daily basis.
I lost all ability to concentrate or even complete simple tasks often feeling disoriented, forgetting where, or who I was. I felt as if I had completely lost my mind.
For a time, I managed to keep it together on the outside trying not to show what I was going through, but its simply the worse thing you can do, you lose control on reality.
What is real? Who is real? You end up believing your own lies. You convince yourself you’re okay when you are not.
I started self-harming, thinking that if I hurt myself harder than my thoughts were hurting me then maybe I couldn’t be hurt. The horrifying thing is, I found relief in self-harming, not realizing the damage it does to you. Not only are you left with scars on your skin but the damage it does to you psychologically is the deepest scar of all.
With several hospital visits and stays in different psychiatric wards, I was diagnosed with reactive depression & Borderline Personality Disorder due to the sexual attack I had suffered. I slowly gained trust in the doctors, I was able to tell them what was happening, how I was feeling, not realizing that I had actually been suffering way before the sexual attack took place.
Taking medication and undergoing therapy marked the turning point in recovering from my mental breakdown. For me there is no cure, no final healing. I will never be free of bipolar.
BUT there are things that I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed.
I’m no longer a prisoner of my illness and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. The most important thing to know is that it’s never too late to seek help and speak out.
Nobody should suffer alone with this
There are still days I simply do not function and there are relapses that set me back. But I have got to know myself, know my mind and know the triggers.
I have my little daily routines that I have to stick to which allow me to lead a normal life.
I’ve also learnt than on the days it gets too much for me, to give in, there is no harm in telling yourself to stop, slow down, ride through it as best as you can.
Everything in this life is passing. Just ride it out. Before you know it, you wake up and it’s a new day, a new dawn.
Just hold on, hold to that little bit of hope and don’t let go of it.
Join me as I look at the outside world from the inside.
This is me.
Unapologetically – Me