Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Baby Elephant

The remainder of my stay on Ward E1 was very regimented and routined; Woken at 6am for obs.  Breakfast at 8am. Family arrive at 9am. Physio session before lunch. Lunch at 12pm. Occupational Therapy session. Visitors at 2pm. Dinner at 5pm. Visitors, again at 7pm. Family leave at 10pm... Then I attempt to sleep.

A couple of days before I was allowed to go home from hospital I was approached by the ward sister, and asked if I would like to visit the wards psychologist.

I have had previous experience with counselors, as in the past I have suffered from anxiety and depression caused predominantly by exams, and exam pressure. This was the reason I chose to leave university. 
When leaving High School to go to college, I had no idea what A levels I wanted to study, or whether I wanted to study them at all. All I'd ever wanted to be was a hairdresser or work in the beauty industry, but I achieved good GCSE results, and was told by teachers and other adults that I would be wasting them if I went in to hairdressing. So naively I took their advice and decided to go to sixth form college... It was where all my friends were going after all. 
I suffered, miserably through my first year of sixth form, all the while losing my confidence, not wanting to see friends, doing badly on tests (which is something I had never done before.) I was arguing with my Mum constantly, and I was gaining weight and not bothering with my appearance. 
I remember feeling lower than low, the only way I have ever known how to describe it is feeling as though my brain was filled with a dark cloud, and a weight filled my chest as though I had a baby elephant standing on it at all times. 
I briefly turned to self harming. There's no way to explain what makes a person do this. You don't simply wake up one day and decide, 'I want to hurt myself.' All I remember is being in the shower, crying my eyes out, which by that time was something of a norm, and digging too deeply with the razor  in to my leg... I felt no pain. I felt nothing. All I could do was watch the blood run from my leg, and breathe a sigh of relief. 
I quickly loathed myself for what I had done, and stuck toilet paper to my leg to suppress the bleeding, knowing I couldn't let anyone see what I had done, and promising myself I wouldn't do it again... But I did do it again... When my brain felt like it couldn't hold any more worry or pain, I went to the bathroom and released it myself... Never wincing, no stinging... Nothing.
I am very fortunate that my Mum realised what I was doing before it became a full blown habit (luckily I have no scars,)  and after crying with me, and me finally expressing to her what was going through my mind, she booked a Drs appointment and within hours I was seen.
I sat and cried my eyes out to the Dr and finally poured my soul out in to the open. The Dr told me to quit college immediately and she got me on a waiting list to see a Youth Counselor. 
Amazing doesn't do justice in describing the work Youth Counselors do. Through my 4 months of sessions with my counselor, I was able to rationalise that it was OK for me not to be happy at college, and I was allowed to make my own decisions. 
You'd think I'd have learnt... But I was young...
After 8 months of recuperation, and getting my life back on track... I decided to finish my Alevels. So I went back to college, and hated every minute, but I was stronger, and I did it... This then made me decide to go to university.
As I've told you before, my first year of university was amazing. I loved it. I loved the lessons, the teachers, and I adored the new friends I had made... But exam time was the same. I was physically ill at the thought of having to do my exams. I couldn't sleep, I cried all the time, and my thoughts were leading down that dark path again. I tried, I really tried to convince myself that I could do it, it was only the exams that were doing this to me, but I just wasn't strong enough. 
I completed the first year of my degree with a 2:1, something which I tried to make spur me on to complete the degree, but in the end I was too poorly.
One night, when Mum and Dad had gone to bed, I was sat on my laptop, talking to Chris, who was in Barcelona at the time. The tears began to stream from my eyes, and my vision became blurred. My brain felt as though it was being squeezed, as though someone was trying to make it burst, and while typing on the keyboard of my laptop, I couldn't seem to type anything that made sense. My fingers were just tapping the keys at random, while I stared blankly at the screen seeing nothing...
I woke up on the floor, my laptop lay askew next to me, my face was drenched in tears, my head pounding...
There I was again, sat in the Drs, weirdly in the same room, that I had been sat in just over two years before... I was proscribed anti depressants, while the Dr sat with me, her eyes glazed with tears, my Mum sat opposite my smiling through silent sobs, while I once again admitted defeat.
I went to have more sessions with a counselor, this time, I decided there was no going back.
The counselling, along with the antidepressants, were the perfect cure for me, I needed something to level me out, as all my life I have been nothing but a worrier, a ball of anxious nerves (though many people wouldn't realise this... I became professional in the art of hiding my feelings.)

I am not ashamed to admit that I need a tablet to help me feel normal, because the relief I felt when the baby elephant had been lifted off my chest, makes me want to shout it from the roof tops.
After another 8 months or so of convalescing, working part time, and finally becoming 'me' again, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a hairdresser, and I was finally content...

18th October 2011

After discussing it with Mum, Dad and Chris, I decided I would see the Ward psychologist...


  1. Just read the whole blog all the way through. Its a really touching and moving story. I felt I could really imagine the emotions you were feeling. I'm not a crier at all but at times it brought me to tears. The things that went on in your mind, the things you went through, its amazing and I wish you absolutely the best of luck in the future. I hope you, Chris, your Mum and Dad all live long and happy lives together, you all seem like genuinely brilliant people. I hope that one day, I could have half the ounce of strength you showed while coping with this! Thank you so much for sharing this, truly inspirational story. :)

  2. I have also just read your blog the whole way through, you are a truly talented writer! I really admire you for having the strength and courage to share your experiences so openly as you have done. Hats off to you for not letting it get to you taking a positive out of your experiences, just browsing through the comments shows that you have touched many people who have gone through the same thing as you. I am 21 myself, and the part I have especially related to is the exam stress, I have watched so many around me crumble when it comes to that time of year, but not many have the strength to admit it, or realise they could be so much happier doing something they truly love, despite what teachers at school and college would have them believe. Best of luck to you during your recovery and in the rest of your life, I hope you can fulfil all your ambitions, you sure have the determination to :)

    P.S. I got to this through Lord Sugar retweeting it, so lovely of him to share!

  3. Wow Becky I've just read all your blog after Lord Sugar RT'd it, like others have said you should really think about getting your story published...I so hope you are doing well, it's mind boggling what you've been through at such a young age.
    Take care and look after that family, they sound like stars x

  4. Becky! Finally worked out how to follow your blog through mine! I wish you all the best as I have told you a million times on twitter, do what Rihanna says and don't let the bastards get you down! You are going places don't you forget honey! <3 @lulusaysss

  5. Wow Becky. Another incredible instalment. I had no idea you'd suffered so much with your exams and you definitely made the right decision for you to get out of it. Your wellbeing is priority! My only experience of depression is of the post natal variety after having Sam and I'd never wish to go through that again. Like you, medication was one of the things that helped me get better. And so what if you need a tablet, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's not out of the ordinary and look how it's helping you! Look how you're helping others with this blog. Keep going Becky, it's wonderful and so are you xxxx

  6. Depression and anxiety are so often misunderstood. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I suffer from clinical depression and my family doesn't understand. I'm so glad you have a family who is there for you and has made sure that you got the help you needed. Your story is truly inspirational.

  7. OMG you're only telly and looking amazing!

  8. It is good article, from the heart. You know, I too am afraid of examinations, me constantly shakes and I hate to act in public. When I at examination or interview in the head at me it is empty, a clean sheet of paper. This year, I graduated from the university in absentia and wrote the diploma which itself wrote and knew it from beginning to end but when came to protect time it, at me in the head was empty. To me asked questions, and I didn't understand that me ask. Generally I was protected on 3, and it torments me every day, I constantly remember all this and I scroll in the head. It is a shame to me and it is terrible. It very much isn't pleasant.
    I am glad that to you is better. Successes to you.