Charlotte: “I’m a survivor and I will continue to survive every day.”
When I was 14, I really learnt what it was like to be depressed. I didn’t understand it, but I felt it. It lead to a year full of substance abuse and self-harm. It was the start of a spiral that I was heading down.
By the time I was 18, I had developed the unhealthy coping mechanisms of sex and drama. I would play with people’s feelings to make myself feel wanted and needed. I liked the attention; I was always unpopular at school, so when I had all these friends and possible suitors, it went to my head.
Things got even worse when my father died by suicide, not long after I ended a relationship with someone I really loved.
I no longer felt human. I had lost the two most important people in my life. I became disassociated. I felt like I was watching my life, but I was not in control. I was a passenger in my own body. At this point, I had attempted suicide a few times myself, with the most recent attempt landing me in hospital.
But, I am proud to say that, now at 22, I have not self-harmed in over a year. And I haven’t tried to take my own life since the attempt that landed me in hospital.
I barely drink or smoke. I am married, with a cat and a dog who I love so much, all in our little home. I spend my days writing and advocating for mental health and suicide awareness, alongside regular GP visits and treatment for my mental health.
I still cannot work an actual job without triggering a lot of negative feelings, but, considering there was a time I spent over two months not leaving the house or even my bed, I’ve come so far. I know that this year, I’m going to make new milestones with my mental health, just like so many others will.
I’ve been through unspeakable things, living in the darkest pits of my mind. But I've made it. I’m a survivor and I will continue to survive every day.
How did I do it, you may ask?
First, I admitted to myself that I was not really living. I was determined to get better, I wanted to get better.
Second, I was honest with myself and those around me. I was no longer hiding my mental health.
Third, I went to a GP and asked to change medication. It took me three attempts to find the medication that worked for me.
Fourth, I didn’t give up and I allowed myself to have bad days. Some days you won’t be able to get out of bed, and that’s OK. What matters is that you keep trying.
Fifth, I started to write. It helped me to get my words onto paper, it dragged them out of my head and it made it a lot easier for me to make sense of what was going on in my mind. Writing is extremely therapeutic and, although I am not the most literate, it has not stopped me from self-publishing two e-books and working on publishing a third.
Finally, I learnt the importance of saying “no”. I was a doormat for most of my life, which lead to some very scarring events. I always put others first, even if it hurt me. Now I know that I can say “no” and not need to give an explanation. I allow myself to be selfish but not in the way that hurts others.