"I became afraid of my own mind."

I have lived with severe depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. My therapist says that while it is hereditary, a lot of it can be learned behaviour also.

When I was 10 years old my mum had a complete breakdown. She wouldn’t get out of bed, she wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t talk. All she did was cry. I remember how skinny she got. It was so frightening to see my curvaceous mother become unrecognisable.

Some people said that she was a 'worrier'. Others weren’t so nice and just called her plain crazy. As I've been struggling with this exact same illness as an adult, I have done a lot of reflecting and realised that, for as long as I can remember, I've been this way also. I would worry about the strangest things and play these catastrophic scenes out in my mind over and over again.

When I was younger I was really good at hiding it but, as I got older, one day I just broke.

It was a particularly stressful day with my kids and husband and I had a full blown panic attack that scared me so badly I had to go to A&E. My heart rate was so high, I thought I was having a heart attack. The doctor explained to me what was going on and told me to see my GP the next day, who diagnosed me. I then got put on medication which has helped but I still struggle every single day.

For a long time, I was self-medicating because I had finally found a way to make myself feel better. I was trying to get through each day being as happy and productive as I could on the surface, instead of the sad, lonely world of constant worry and angst that was happening inside. It's something I still struggle with now.

I’ve always had thoughts of suicide but in recent years they became more like actual plans because I was so tired of struggling and being afraid of my own mind.

I know people say it's selfish because I have kids and a family who loves me but, when someone is thinking about taking their own life, they are not being selfish or wanting attention. They want the pain to go away.

They honestly feel that their world, their family and friends would be better off without them. They feel like this huge burden or parasite because people do not understand what it feels like.

How could it be that bad, when someone is pretty, has a nice house and kids and a husband?

What they don’t know is our minds are like minefields and it can be so exhausting and frustrating for our families - especially the kids.

I wish someone would have explained that to me when I was younger. I would have had a lot more empathy for my mum because I know now how much of a toll this illness takes, not only mentally, but physically it completely wears you down, too.

If you resonate with Tamra's story and are looking for support, know that help is out there. If you’re ready, use our search tool to find a counsellor near you.

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