If you would like to contribute to this community page by telling your story, giving us some feedback, sharing a wellbeing tip or sending a message of support, we'd love to hear from you.

Show me:

  • All contributions
  • Real Life Stories
  • Peer Support
  • Wellbeing Tips
  • User Feedback

mental health, myself and my family

If having your own mental health issue wasn't bad enough, then imagine how it tears you apart to watch a close friend or family member, someone who is extremely close and special to you, go through the same thing and all you feel like you can do is sit and watch.

Without going into too much detail but still give you… Continue readingIf having your own mental health issue wasn't bad enough, then imagine how it tears you apart to watch a close friend or family member, someone who is extremely close and special to you, go through the same thing and all you feel like you can do is sit and watch.

Without going into too much detail but still give you some background information, I myself suffer from anxiety and mild depression and I have done for roughly 5 years now. I started to get help about 3/4 years ago to help me to cope better and improve my understanding around mental health. I fully accept that it will never be something which is cured but I can better manage it. Lately, and unfortunately, I have had to witness a family member go through a horrendous time and see them go through things which I have experienced myself but would not wish upon anybody. They have gone through terrible illness, both physical and mental, unemployment which has led to money worries, relationship break downs and most heart breaking of all - addiction. All of these issues have had such a negative effect on their mental health and I know the feeling's associated with them as I have been through very similar times.

You really start to feel alone and helpless, like no one does or will understand. You can quite easily head into a downwards spiral. As I said it’s hard enough to go through yourself but to see someone else experience it, is just crushing.

I have always had the attitude of being so against any form of drugs, alcohol abuse and even smoking, because of how I was brought up. This is what made it even more difficult as this person influenced me to have these views in life and then to see them struggling was really strange, hard to accept and even confusing. I couldn't get my head around how they had gotten so low, and even without me realising the full extent of it. It also made it a struggle to get them to accept and address the issues themselves. Getting help is the first but hardest step, but almost impossible to achieve with denial.

I found one of the hardest things to deal with during this time was other people, and "the blame game". You would think that, naturally, everyone would come together and be supportive, try their best and help the person in need, right? Nope. Not always the case. I have experienced so many other family members - who are meant to be "the mature ones" - moan and bitch on about who's at fault, why it's not fair, how it's affecting them. Blah blah blah. Really?! I don't know if it's just because I have been through it myself, but saying these things are the last thing I would say or would want to hear. It just wastes so much time being negative and not helping.

I just really cannot get it into my head how people can focus on this and process things so negatively. Personally, I think it’s quite selfish. If you are in this situation or ever are (I really hope not) but my advice to you would be to be brutally honest and confront them about how unhelpful they are being, hopefully they will realise and change their ways. If not, ignore them, you do not need any more negativity in your life. As hard as it may be to do this to loved ones, it'll be for the best.

As I mentioned, I suffer with my own mental health, I do go up and down, but I know how to cope and control it most of the time. But it comes with no surprises that when something like this happens, which you have no control over, it starts to take its toll. You can’t spend all your time hanging around and checking if their OK. It gave me chest pains, loss of appetite and made me highly irritable, just to mention a few, when I'd be away from them and not knowing what was going on. So, then I'd think, "ok I'll just take some time off work, because it's obviously making me ill, I'll get a sick note and just spend all my time off work with them trying to help". Probably not the best idea, even though I got to the point where I was literally sat in the doctor’s surgery, I'm glad I never did this. That would have just lead to money worries from sick pay, I wouldn't have spent my time with them helping because then they would feel bad for knowing I couldn't work in that state and I'd have probably been sat at home, doing nothing but over think.

So, my best advice for anyone in this situation is to keep things as normal as you possibly can. Go to work, eat meals (even when you have no appetite) and do things that take your mind off how crappy things are because they will get better. Find an activity like reading, drawing/colouring, walk the dogs, gym, sewing, cooking/baking basically anything that occupies you and maybe even helps you forget to check the time. I'd also say to research and find as many avenues of help for the person that you possibly can, so when they are ready to get the help they need you can be fully equipped with different options.

When it came to me opening up to this person and trying to talk, it was one of the hardest things I have done, and I felt exhausted afterwards, but I knew I did the right thing. I got a few other people to be there, to talk one on one with them. I also written a note with different numbers, websites, support centres and groups they could access to get help, but I written it saying that I mainly cared, and I loved them, and this was only there if they needed it (not being pushy).

I spoke to them. I went up to the [] and I can’t really remember what I said exactly, and sometimes you don't even need to say anything at all, but I ended up giving them a cuddle too. I told them it would be OK, I could feel them shaking uncontrollably from emotions, what I can only imagine to be pain, anger, embarrassment, upset, relief and love. They said, "I just get sad sometimes". I'll always remember that moment because it broke my heart. I know what that feels like. It feels a thousand things more than sad, but you can’t put it into words because you don't fully understand it. So, I replied with "so do I and that's OK".

It’s so easy to say but, you are loved, it will get better and someone is always there to talk to. I promise.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Eating Disorders

I was 17 when I developed Anorexia and I was 25 when I finally got diagnosed.

Anorexia, as a word, often brings about a stigma and a stereotype – people assume the extremes; nil by mouth, severely bony and emaciated in appearance.

But Anorexia isn’t an extreme. Firstly, and foremost, Anorexia is a mental illness.… Continue readingI was 17 when I developed Anorexia and I was 25 when I finally got diagnosed.

Anorexia, as a word, often brings about a stigma and a stereotype – people assume the extremes; nil by mouth, severely bony and emaciated in appearance.

But Anorexia isn’t an extreme. Firstly, and foremost, Anorexia is a mental illness. It begins with a disordered thinking pattern that develops and projects onto the sufferer’s relationship with food, exercise and self. The physical symptoms come after this and they still don’t have to be as extreme as the stigma and stereotype lead the majority to believe.

I’m only 5ft 2 (I’m being generous). I’m small. For years many people just assumed I was skinny because I was petite and that it was my ‘frame’ nothing more untoward. That wasn’t the case.

I’ve spent most of my twenties being underweight due to restriction and over exercising and this is very unhealthy for the body and the mind. It’s only been this year that I managed to restore weight and get to a healthy BMI - but to be perfectly honest I feel heavier with the burden of Anorexia more than ever.

My recovery taught me that Anorexia is predominately a mental illness - as with every waking moment I feel it burn away part of my self-confidence and I feel the backlash of the constant mental war. I am aware this illness is in my mind and that the physical symptoms come after this.

The physical symptoms are what alert us to someone’s ill wellbeing but what we need to remember with Anorexia is that it’s an invisible illness, and the physical symptoms only show when somebody is suffering an extreme amount with it.

For me, my physical symptoms were shown in my bloods – ‘clear evidence of starvation’ and a low level of blood sugar; yet another thing the naked eye can’t capture. But I also encountered excruciating stomach pains due to malnutrition. This perhaps showed people I was in pain, but the connection was never made due to the majority of people assuming all Anorexics are at that extreme level of thinness. Assumptions really do make an ass out of you and me.

Experts say that the sooner Anorexia is caught the easier it is to overcome. However, especially in my experience, some people don’t feel ‘thin or skinny’ enough for Anorexia – what I assume in hindsight about my experience is that when I was 17 I wouldn’t actually have received any help from a GP because my weight wasn’t drastically low.

Regardless of weight, if there’s a constant battle in your mind about food, exercise or body image, there is something up. That’s when it’s time to speak up and reach out.

As with every mental illness the more we talk about it, the more we speak up, the more we overcome stigma and barriers. With Anorexia and Eating Disorders there’s such an assumption of how we ‘should’ look, when really, we should be focusing on how we feel. If we attack these feelings first we can prevent the physical symptoms and perhaps even save lives.

We have the power, we just need to harness it and use it to our advantage.

Website: https://whatsandisays17.wordpress.com/

My mental health journey

I think my mental health problems first started, with post natal depression thirty years ago. I’ve had bouts of depression since then but nothing prepared me for what hit me four years ago.

My dad had dementia for many years, but the last two weeks of his life were utterly unbearable. The dementia had taken over… Continue readingI think my mental health problems first started, with post natal depression thirty years ago. I’ve had bouts of depression since then but nothing prepared me for what hit me four years ago.

My dad had dementia for many years, but the last two weeks of his life were utterly unbearable. The dementia had taken over completely and he was terrified and nothing could soothe him. I spent almost twenty- four hours a day at the hospital, as no one could even get near him unless I was there.

We were unable to get clothing on him and he would let out the most terrible screams, when the nurses tried to help him. I would run from the room and sit in the corridor, fingers in my ears, until they had finished but I could still hear him.

I sometimes wished doctors were allowed to put him out of his pain. Once he died, I felt relieved and glad for him. I thought this made me a terrible and evil person.

Following his death, I was the main carer for my mother and my husband. Twelve weeks after the day my dad died, I came home from walking the dogs and found my husband dead in bed.

I didn’t realise he was dead, I was trying to give him CPR when the paramedics arrived. They just didn’t do anything. I remember screaming at them to help him. They said the couldn’t it was too late. The last picture of him, in my mind, was to become the picture that caused panic attacks, anxiety and PTSD.

The day he died, was the day my grandson was due to be born. I had to ring the children to tell them what had happened. They were expecting me to tell them the baby had arrived; instead, I had to tell them their dad had died.

Following his death, I lived with my mother. Still trying to care for her, while my mental health spiralled out of control. I considered, and planned, suicide many times. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my grandchildren. I thought, they’d already lost enough without losing me. Somehow, I had to find a way to stay. But it was like the deepest black hole you could imagine and I couldn’t find a way out. Most days, I didn’t want to find a way out. I just wanted it all to end.

At some point in this time, the district nurse came to see my mother, who had an ulcer on her leg. Somehow, I ended up talking with her in the conservatory. I lost it, all the pain came pouring out. She asked if I would engage, if she referred me to Mind. I agreed.

I started having counselling. Somehow, with the help of the therapist, I started my journey out of the black hole.

It wasn’t easy and I would sometimes slip back down. But eventually, I found my way back up to the top of the hole. Only just though, I could see that maybe there might be a light.

I think my big breakthrough, was when I decided that I wanted to help someone like me. If I could change the black hole for just one person, then I’d have done something good. This is when I started voluntary work for Mind and joined the Anti-Stigma campaign. I have been doing it for two years now and I love it!

The group is full of amazing, brave and caring people. We have done so much work that will make a difference; Christmas campaigns, world mental health day etc etc. I’ve even been on the radio and travelled to London to spread the word! I was also recently very proud to receive awards of recognition from Mind.

Although, I still have problems with my mental health from time to time, it is nowhere near as debilitating as it was. When they do appear, I can look at what I’ve achieved with mind and feel good about myself again.

Fireworks and hook-a-duck

The first time I tried to explain to someone what my anxiety felt like this was my best analogy. On a good day my head feels like hook-a-duck; lots of thoughts bobbing around quite calmly until one is plucked out and I deal with it.

Every now and then someone will give the thoughts a swoosh around and it all goes a… Continue readingThe first time I tried to explain to someone what my anxiety felt like this was my best analogy. On a good day my head feels like hook-a-duck; lots of thoughts bobbing around quite calmly until one is plucked out and I deal with it.

Every now and then someone will give the thoughts a swoosh around and it all goes a bit random, but it quickly calms back down. On a bad day, my head is like a bag of fireworks. Not a nice organised display, but literally like someone threw a match in and all their fuses are burning. All of a sudden it can be “I haven’t sent that… oh my god I forgot to.. remember that time when I didn’t.. whoops I forgot to ring that person.. 2 weeks ago I… it’s Monday and I have to….”

It’s hard to concentrate with random thoughts and recollections suddenly exploding in your head, and while you are at work and trying to hold down a job while being the best you can be, it’s quite simply overwhelming. Even a small task is one more thing to think about and add to your to do list, and you never know if you are adding a duck or a Catherine wheel.

I work for Karbon Homes and they’re a fairly progressive employer and offer a range of health and wellbeing initiatives to employees. It’s by no means perfect but we have a telephone counselling service available; we can be referred to a CBT specialist and have in-house peer-to-peer staff supporters. Most managers and senior staff have been trained as workplace coaches and we have on occasion had access to a life coach.

You would think that with all of these services available that we would be talking more about our mental health. But we’re not, it’s still a hidden illness. We all readily admit when we’re off to the doctors and openly talk about pains, sprains and weird squishy lumps and happily skip off to get a prescription to make it all better.

Unfortunately, there’s no sticky plaster for mental health. I’ll admit that I haven’t come into work and announced to the office “I’ve been sitting in my car for 10 minutes, crying, because I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today”. I’m not sure what would happen if I did but I imagine human resources would be involved somewhere along the line. Maybe I need a friendly face, someone to listen to me and acknowledge how I feel, and maybe a cup of tea.

I have some wonderful colleagues who genuinely put their heart and soul into work and care passionately about our customers and each other, and it’s hard when you see someone struggle.

So, please this mental health week if you see a colleague that is a little frazzled, maybe more distracted than usual, or maybe the person next to you is acting out of character, then please make them a cuppa, ask them how they are and if they want to have a chat. It could make a world of difference.”

Maternal Mental Health Week

As we start the UK’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, now is the perfect time to share my story.

In 2006, in the midst of wedding preparations, I discovered I was pregnant…an exciting time for me I hear you say? You’d certainly think so, but sadly, that wasn’t to be.

From the beginning, my pregnancy was… Continue readingAs we start the UK’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, now is the perfect time to share my story.

In 2006, in the midst of wedding preparations, I discovered I was pregnant…an exciting time for me I hear you say? You’d certainly think so, but sadly, that wasn’t to be.

From the beginning, my pregnancy was overshadowed by this big black cloud. You see, for many outsiders looking in on my life at this point, they could have mistaken it for a fairly happy home, but for me on the inside, it was far from happy. At the time of finding out I was pregnant, we were a family of 3, me, my husband to be and our 7 year old son, living in our newly bought home, preparing for our upcoming wedding, but I had also just gone through a severely difficult time, turning my whole world upside down. So discovering our excitement to plan for another baby had now turned into the worst possible timing to confirm a pregnancy, it was no longer an ideal situation.

Throughout my pregnancy, I faced pressure, not from outsiders, but from those closest to me, family members, who weren’t offering me advice but more telling me what I should be doing. My midwife appointments became my counselling appointments, I would offload my troubles and concerns to her and she would offer me advice and tissues for my tears. The depression and anxiety during my pregnancy was considered ‘normal’ concerns that all pregnant women face.
So fast forward to when my daughter was born and the first 24 hours were horrific. Not only was I sent home from hospital less than 5 hours after giving birth, still not fully recovered from the drugs they had given me for pain relief and completely in charge of this small helpless human, but I had to also deal with my daughter being involved in a minor car accident with her father the next morning, when she was still less than 24 hours old. Luckily, she was fine but this was just the beginning.

Now, as any mum will know, one of the most common pieces of advice you are given as a new mum is to sleep when the baby sleeps. If only! That first week I was met with more struggles, which admittedly, I did not handle well at all. Whilst my then husband was on his one week paternity leave, every day he would receive a call from him mum with an invitation for coffee, the invitation only stretching to him and our daughter. I was told to get some rest while my baby was taken out without me, my emotional distress met with accusations of me overreacting. Needless to say, I didn’t get the rest I was told to. Now I know there was no malicious or ulterior motive from my mother-in-law, but at the time that’s certainly not how it felt. From here, my Postnatal Depression spiralled. Once my then husband returned to work, I hid myself away from the world. I refused to answer the door to anyone other than the Health Visitor, who I would always greet with a smile, laughing as we both cooed over my new baby girl. But the reality was, I felt empty and incapable.

With each day after her birth, I lost more confidence in my ability as a mother, and to me this was only backed up by the family taking her out and away from me in those first few vital days and by questioning my every decision. So much so, that my paranoia firmly took hold and I was now convinced my mother-in-law wanted to take my daughter away from me and bring her up as her own daughter. Looking back, I can see how absurd this may sound, but at the time, that was my reality, and that was exactly what I was thinking. I would hide when she turned up at the door, pretending I wasn’t home, when she would ring, I would immediately take up my hiding position so she couldn’t see me through the phone, as if that was even possible. Each day, I would be up and ready, hair done and make up on ready to face the world…from the comfort of my own four walls without having to actually face anyone. My thoughts would often range from paranoia and detachment to self loathing and at times, suicidal. And this process went on for 3 weeks, with me not leaving the house for the whole period.

After the first 3 weeks, I began venturing out into the big wide world, but still avoiding the mother in law in fear of her taking my daughter. My avoidance did cause problems within the family and quite often would end up in an argument between me and my husband, with him being less understanding and more accusational. Whilst the illusion of my mother in law wanting to takeover my role as my daughters’ mother disappeared after around 3 months, I still did not return to my happy self, instead there was a noticeable absent bond with my daughter and I felt more alone and isolated with nobody to talk to. And even if I did, what would I say…I had just spent 3 months convinced my mother in law was going to take my baby away from me. By now, I had very few friends around me, family relationships were strained and I didn’t particularly like my husband at this point mainly due to his lack of support, I had distanced myself away from everyone.

However, there were 3 men that saved me during this time, they went by the names of Roy, Pete and Greg although you may know them better as Scouting for Girls. After hearing their song ‘She’s so lovely’ on the radio and getting this warm happy feeling that took away all my problems, I bought their newly released album and the rest is basically history. I had found my love of music again, it became my safe place, I found my happiness and even found myself singing along to songs again. It was my love of music that got me through my dark days, and slowly out of the other side of my Postnatal Depression. Now this is not something I would recommend to everyone, as I had to really dig deep on some days to aid my own recovery and so would recommend that anyone with Postnatal Depression to speak to their GP for further advice.

Years on from my own personal experience, I realised that many mums still struggle with isolation and don’t have the confidence to speak to their friends/family for fear of judgement, so I decided to do something about it, it was then that Raindrops to Rainbows was formed. Raindrops to Rainbows is a voluntary organisation based in Teesside that provides peer led support in Perinatal Mental Health. We work with a number of organisations across the region to raise awareness, whilst ensuring the correct support is available.

We have been part of TeesSide-By-Side Network, supported by Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind, since 2015, making connections with numerous other groups providing support for both Physical and Mental health across the region. On a larger scale, we are part of the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, made up of individuals, organisations and campaigners across the UK. For more information, please visit our website:

Website: www.raindropstorainbows.co.uk

Terms: By submitting this form you agree to us using your story, support message, wellbeing tip or feedback on our website. If you enter a name we will include it with your contribution. We WILL NOT use your email address or phone number anywhere on our site. You can read our privacy policy here. All contributions, images and website links are subject to approval by our team. Occasionally we might need to make minor edits to your content. Not all contributions are published.

Get our newsletter

Your details

No charge. Cancel anytime. We value your privacy and will not share your details.

© Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind 2016 - 2018. All rights reserved.
Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind is the business name of Middlesbrough Mind Limited. Registered Charity No. 1118098. Company Limited by Guarantee No. 5884630 in England.

Top