This weeks blog is from Emily Woodcock.
Still looking for guest bloggers - please get in touch with me either via twitter or facebook if you're interested in writing.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/letstalkmhealth
22 Year old Emily Woodcock is living in Warwickshire. She suffered for most of her teen years with anxiety, depression and obesity but today feels recovered from her mental health issues.
Having discovered Suzy's blog on mental health I went through and read some truly inspirational and compelling stories from the highs and lows of mental health sufferers. I read them all. Laughed, cried and empathised with them and afterwards felt proud of every single person who wrote a piece.
It didn't cross my mind to write something for the blog until I saw an article a girl I knew had written. This girl and I used to be so close but had drifted apart. I read all about her struggles past and present and something touched me. To hear someone you used to know going through trying times and to get out the other end really made me think. I decided that day to message Suzy and ask if I could write a piece for her. To some of you, be it friends or family, you may know of a troublesome past I have, but for strangers, I guess you can read my article with a totally open mind.
I have sat down many times to write this, however I was scared.
Scared for people I know to read it.
Scared for them to judge me.
And scared that people would view me in a different light.
It then dawned on me that this is what this blog is all about - eliminating the stigma attached to mental health. I shouldn't be scared of people knowing, in fact I should be proud of what I've been through as it has made me the person I am today and there's nothing shameful for having a mental health issue; be it diagnosed, life long or temporary. It was then I knew I had to write this. Not for myself, but for everyone who takes the time to read it. Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing I am ashamed of is that I felt like it was. So, here it goes. My past which makes me who I am at the present, and will sculpt my future.
I cannot say when it started because it is a part of my life I wish to black out. Not because it hurts too much or because it still effects me, but because it no longer will affect me and isn't who I am anymore. Everyone says, 'people don't change' but they're wrong. I suffered from anxiety and depression from early teens so I didn't really know who I was. For many years I thought this sad, lonely and depressive side of me was who I was. But looking back, I couldn't have been more wrong. I am not that person anymore or really ever was. It was a side to me that was ill and therefore doesn't define me or is part of who I am.
I won't bore you with all the details about how my illness came about because what does it matter? I'm not here to list past events but to help those who are going through mental health issues.
For years I knew something wasn't right. I was too scared to go and get help because of the stigma attached to mental health and thought my life would be worse off. So I sat and cried, felt lonely and hurt myself in the quiet of knowing as far as doctors believed, I was ok.
I struggled to get over some horrific events that happened to me and started comfort eating. I ate and ate anything and everything. I became a secret eater, hiding food from my friends and family. I ate until I felt physically sick and cried of how ashamed I was. I got bigger and bigger until I was a size 18 at the age of 13/14. I had grown out of all my clothes and got bullied for being fat. I knew I was fat but I couldn't stop eating. It was the only thing that made me feel better. It stopped me from self harming and for the time I was eating, it made me feel happy.
At this point I hit an all-time low. Depressed, anxious and now fat with an eating disorder. I still chose to not do anything about it. I developed anger problems and pushed a lot of friends away from me. I never forget being at Rugby High School (aged 16-18) and crying most days. I barely attended and got lower grades than I should have but I didn't know what I could do. At this point I lost weight and was a size 14. Still very conscious of how I looked and struggled to eat in front of people from fear of being judged. I knew my friends saw me as a sad, lonely and depressed person. I could see it in myself, but I didn't know how to stop it. I wanted so much for it to end after years but I didn't know how.
I can't say when it stopped. There certainly wasn't a defining moment when it all came to an end but there was a moment of realisation. A friend told me how happy, inspirational and smiley I was. She wrote me a note the day I left a job I had on how much she would miss me and the impact I'd had on her. She didn't know my past or anything I had been through. To hear someone say that to me I knew I was cured. For years I had known my struggle was over but to hear someone describe you as all you'd ever wanted to be made me realise just how far I had come.
I feel that having been through all I have actually made me a better person. I no longer cry or feel alone but love my life and strive to make every day happy. I feel everything with the entirety of my soul and never do anything half heartedly. I wake up in the morning happy to be alive and love seeing others happy. Before all of this I was a quiet, sad and lonely girl. Now I am a loud, happy and full of life woman.
I still have insecurities but who doesn't! I will always be body conscious and worry about things more than I should but that is a small price to pay for being who I am today.
When I look back it all seems so long ago, like another life ago. I truly don't even feel like it was a part of my life because it is so so different to who I am today. That part of my life is gone and will never come back. I am stronger because of it but I don't even recognise it as being me.
For those of you who have known me past my mental health, I truly hope that you never guessed this to have been my past. For those who knew me before my illness, you know just how far I've come.
With every ounce of me I urge you to read this blog be it in comfort or just out of interest. This stigma has to end. There is nothing to be ashamed of and I am living proof that you can come out of the other side with no doctors or medicine and be whoever you want to be.
I hope this piece made you feel something, whatever the feeling, hold onto it. Go and read another piece or write your own or even just take a moment to reflect on how far you have come. Everyone has struggles, but you are still here today, reading this article, so you've over come every single one of them.
So go, inspire others, throw yourself into everything and sparkle where ever you go. Put your stamp on the world and everyone you meet. Be who ever you want to be and smile because you, are you. Dream every single night of all you want to achieve, and tomorrow, go and get it! Never apologise for living your life. Laugh until you tummy aches and smile at strangers. Live the life you want to. No one is stopping you. Only you.
I wake up every morning happy to be here, I sincerely hope one day, you will too.