I'm Emilia, I'm 16 years old and I live in the United Kingdom.
I love hearing someone introduce themselves without using their labels, because you aren't defined by your mental illness. But just for the sake of this post, I'll explain my story and experiences with mental health. I am going to put it out there that there is a possible trigger warning coming with this post. Well, here goes...
I had always been an anxious child growing up, but no one really noticed, I like to keep my problems to myself - as people who know me well will have noticed! People started noticing when I was around age 13, when I started restricting my diet and self harming as an effort to control my anxieties. Drastic, I know. But I didn't really know what else to do. Because I had never told anyone, I had never developed any positive coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety, so I turned to negative ones.
It got worse by the time I was 15, and I thought that my sole purpose in life was to be thin and beautiful. So I did everything I could to get that way. Restricting my diet, over exercising, you name it. My mum noticed something was up and took me to my local GP. They referred me to CAMHS. I was on the waiting list for four months and had still heard nothing after my initial assessment. During this time, things became worse and worse.
I started to see a mental health practitioner at CAMHS who assessed my risk weekly, but did nothing other than that in order to help me. Many people will know what it feels like to be failed by the mental health system, and I can't even begin to explain how annoyed I am at the further cuts to the budget. Anyway, my risk got higher, and I decided that I couldn't go on living any longer - so I took it upon myself to end my own life: yes, you read that right. It seems unusual, but you'd be surprised how many people are feeling this way and keeping it to themselves because of the huge stigma surrounding it.
I ended up in general hospital where they were talking about sending me to a psychiatric unit. This time they sent me home, but without a doubt, due to me having absolutely no help, it happened again. I found myself in the same situation again at the general hospital discussing my situation with a psychiatrist. This time they opted for the second option as I couldn't keep myself safe at home. Two days later I found myself in hospital transport on my way to an adolescent psychiatric unit, 90 miles from my own home.
I was terrified, and unsurprisingly, the first two weeks were the worst two weeks of my life. I didn't know anyone there, the psychiatrist and all the nurses scared me and they dosed me up on medication. I immediately received the diagnoses of anorexia nervosa, depression, generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. What I didn't know was that they didn't even have a psychologist on the ward so I wouldn't be receiving any therapy anyway. I started to think I might as well have been at home!
But actually - this psychiatric unit saved my life. After the first few weeks, I made some of the best friends I ever could've imagined, and some of the nurses were the nicest people I've ever met, and give some of the best 1:1s. I was told I'd be in there for 8-12 weeks in total, and I received home leave after 6 weeks, and was allowed to attend my school prom and a trip to Brighton.
However, I had already decided that these would be a send off for me and a chance for me to say goodbye to all my friends before I died. So that's exactly what happened - I got back to the unit and that night I had another attempt to end my own life.
The next few weeks were like hell on earth for me - my best friend on the unit got moved up to HDU, I got the absolute pleasure of experiencing 1:1 eyesight at night, day, toilet, shower, and to top it all off, I wasn't allowed visits for two weeks. It was tough but I got through it, and from then on, I decided I was going to recover for good.
I regained my home leave, and got discharged on the 12th September, after five months. Will I miss the ward? Absolutely not. But of course I will miss all of the lovely friends I have made and the nurses support dearly. But I am so thankful for the help I received, and I am now recieving help from CAMHS and my medication is really helping me. I have also received the diagnoses of borderline personality disorder - I'm slowly getting used to it and learning ways to deal with it.
Recovery isn't about saying from this day I will no longer self harm, I will no longer restrict my diet, I will no longer binge eat - it's about changing your mindset to tell yourself "everyday is a new day, if I mess up today, I'll start again tomorrow." Slip ups do not cause you to fall all the way down the mountain - the beauty of it is that you don't have to keep re climbing the same patch you've already climbed. So if you take one step back: wake up, smile, and take a few more steps forward on your journey.
Let me tell you this - recovery is the best decision I've ever made. I'm so much more free than when I was in the dark depths of my mental illness. Talk to someone, get help - break the stigma.