Why are you here? I can only assume that you’re either my mum, one of my dear friends, or you accidentally clicked this link instead of a Buzzfeed article that will tell you what kind of breakfast cereal you are. If you’re the latter, please link me the quiz in the comments!
I want to talk about why I’m here. I’m about to share the things in my life that have led me to this moment; to blogging about the thing I am most passionate about – mental health. Please be aware some things discussed in this post may pose as a trigger.
As a young child I was exposed to many things I didn’t understand – domestic violence, alcohol abuse, ‘homelessness’, abandonment, kidnapping, court and intervention orders. My childhood wasn’t all bad, but it was far from summer I’m the Hamptons and the expensive fruit bars. I was first diagnosed with a form of depression at age 8.
I was bullied at school because of how I looked. My coping mechanism became humour. If I was funny, kids would want to be my friend even though I was fat! I hold this coping mechanism close to my heart to this very day as many of my friends and family will know.
High school brought more trauma to my life, and thus more mental health issues. At age 14 I met my first love – I won’t name her, but I know she knows who she is. Being attracted to a female at age 14 is confusing, but nothing about it felt wrong. My beautiful best friend was also openly gay – things weren’t as easy for him as they were me, and he took his life when I was 15.
The death of someone you love is not something you ever become okay with. The guilt follows you around like a cloud of despair – it backs off just enough for you to think it will be okay, and then it crawls back into your ear to remind you that you never answered the phone. Dylan’s death was only the very beginning of loss I would encounter over the years.
It was around this time that I began intentionally harming myself. Now, anyone who knows me knows I have the pain threshold of a three year old, so it began as small amounts of inflicted discomfort – repetitive scratching, gouging my nails into my skin and punching innocent objects that were much sturdier than my fists. It wasn’t for a few years until I began to actively cut myself. I also developed a routine of binging and purging. My unhealthy relationship with food would see me eat more than I could handle only to force myself to throw it up.
I turned to alcohol and marijuana when nothing else was working anymore. My education went out the window, I destroyed relationships and pushed away the people that I needed the most.
Fast forward and I’m 23 now. I own a home with my fiance, I have worked at the same full time job for nearly five years, I am a university student and externally I seem to have my adult hat on! Then why do I still feel trapped in a pit of anguish? This year I have had countless emotional breakdowns, I am currently in the midst of an identity crisis and I have at least twice had to physically removed myself from the situation I had planned to take my life in. I have been diagnosed with bipolar, been undiagnosed with bipolar, and been definitively diagnosed with ADHD. I have been on valium, zoloft, dexamphetamines and ritalin. I am barely functioning most days, but I am almost alright!
If you have read this far, I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I could ever do to help someone else. I won’t hold that against you, I believed it a month ago too. I didn’t share uncomfortably raw and personal snippets of my life to try and validate my emotions. I didn’t even share them because it’s nearly 2am and my socially acceptable filter turned off 4 hours ago. I shared them because they’re not that uncommon. I shared them because it’s literally okay to feel like shit when life throws you grade A curve balls. Last week I flipped my life upside down and withdrew from the Bachelor of Business I was studying. Why? Because thanks to this soul crushing identity crisis I realised it was far from who I am. My passion is mental health. Advocating, helping, creating awareness, supporting. I’ve been accepted into a Bachelor of Psych Sciences and Sociology and I couldn’t be happier.
Almost Alright is as much for me as it is for you. I’m on a journey of self discovery and these are my musings. If one person reads my crazy ramblings and realises that what they are currently feeling or going through is not abnormal/their fault/shameful, my heart will be full. It’s time to shut this belief down that mental health needs to be dealt with in private without support.
You can subscribe to this blog and receive notifications when I post something new. I have some really exciting things I want to talk about, mainly on the topics of dispelling myths, ways to cope with unexpected emotions and what mental illnesses actually are.
If anything I’ve posted has affected you either in a positive or negative capacity, please reach out to me. These conversations are so important.
Thanks for reading (especially you mum, I know you’re there!)
– Alanna x