Jane’s Story

I have read stories written by others that have helped to give me renewed strength and I hope to do the same.

My ex-husband was having an affair for over a year and I found out three months before it all came to a head.  That’s when my world literally fell apart.  We have a daughter with learning difficulties and she was 9 at the time.  Once the affair was out in the open he left quickly.

At the time I felt my whole world had fallen away.  I felt vulnerable, scared, and could see no light, only darkness.  I went into shock and my body felt like it was shaking inside and my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I couldn’t sleep and visited the doctor, but he was reluctant to prescribe antidepressants so gave me beta blockers and sleeping tablets to calm me down.  I took the beta blockers but not the sleeping tablets as I still had my daughter to care for and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to function.  To this day I am glad I never had antidepressants.

I was worried about my daughter and for her sake I tried to maintain a civil relationship with my ex-husband despite going through a rocky divorce. Her welfare was my main priority and I worked hard to protect her from what was going on.

My recovery was slow, but my daughter, friends and family became my saviours.  There were times I wanted to say no to every offer of a night out, weekend away or a holiday with friends but I rarely did.  I accepted as many offers as I could and pushed myself to get up, get dressed, socialise, try, and got myself back out there.

I dated unsuccessfully because I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t know who I was as a person and that takes time.

Gradually I felt more comfortable with myself, my life, my lot if you like and you very quickly come to realise that it is not the material things you have in your life that makes everything worthwhile but close family, friends and workmates, and their kindness and understanding.  In time my friends stepped back a little as they seen me gaining strength and more able to cope on my own.

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and being brave enough to try new things is the key to good mental health.  I joined a community choir – what a stress buster that was and what great friends I have made and such good fun.

I signed up for a boot camp and now have an extended family – likeminded people coming together for the same purpose – what a buzz!  Yoga too to calm that over-worked brain.

Together with vitamin and magnesium supplements I am the best I have ever been, sleeping easy for the first time in my life with a renewed energy to embrace each day as it comes.

Kirsty’s Story

Winston Churchill labelled his mental health issues his “black dog”.  I never thought to label my mental health problems but on reflection I think “a pack of dogs” would do it. Anxiety and its irrational thoughts. Depression with its negative thinking. Self loathing. World loathing!

My pack of dogs started circling in my mid teens. Home life was not the most nurturing. I witnessed domestic violence most days and frequently suffered psychological and physical abuse. I won’t go into details…suffice to say I bear physical and emotional scars to this day. I do have some memories that bring a smile but I tend not to visit my childhood often.  I sought refuge in going to school each day but just before my 18th birthday mum left us. A year later dad threw me out bringing an abrupt end to my childhood.  Abandonment anyone?!

Adulthood began around the time I started training as a mental health nurse. I discovered the link between my broken self and a need to try to fix others better.  Understanding myself and helping others became intertwined and a self-help tome in itself.

I began to drink heavily and mourned the frightened little girl who was trapped inside of me. But the monsters she knew had grown. I must be a monster myself – how else could I have attracted such suffering? Do people really like me? Am I loveable? Who am I?  How can I become “normal”?

Crashing in downward spiral I hit the self-destruct button, swimming in alcohol to block out the pain.  Cheap wine was my best friend.  I became the party girl, always up for a laugh but doubted everything and everyone. Mostly myself.

After qualifying as a mental health nurse I bought a wee flat and life staggered on, pretending I was happy with Oscar winning flair.  I separated from my first love, hit a rockier bottom and was soon prescribed antidepressants. I became numb and stumbled through life and relationships. My demons whispered rather than roared.

I met my husband and although he seen a glimpse of my Dante’s infernal, he stayed. We became pregnant and I was off the antidepressants and alcohol.  Pregnancy hormones lifted me up and life felt good.  My son arrived with the gift of motherhood but shortly after came post natal depression. My demons were in full force and I was back on the happy pills.  My second son was born two years later. I had to be a grown up. I had to!

I have been prescribed several antidepressants over the years and received counseling on and off. I’ve learned to embrace my weirdness (what is normal anyway?) and now follow an eclectic spiritual path, practicing Reiki and other relaxation techniques. I have two amazing sons, a mostly understanding hubby and an amazing family.  I also have my inner self to prop me up during the dark days.

Today the pack of dogs is smaller than it used to be.  I coorie the wee girl inside and tell her it’s going to be OK.  You’re safe now.  And the big girl believes it…most of the time anyway.