The first step is the hardest

It is estimated that nearly 1 in 4 people suffer from some type of mental health problem; I am not ashamed to admit that I am part of that statistic. I have been diagnosed with OCD, anxiety and depression.

It took me a few years to truly come to terms with my diagnosis. At the beginning I felt an overwhelming sense of shame; I felt as if I had let my family down and that I was an outcast. Looking back this was definitely not the case at all! Mental health is not a thing to be ashamed of, you wouldn’t be ashamed to have the flu, would you? Instead, you would seek help from a medical professional and try different remedies to help your symptoms. So why do we as a society treat mental health so differently?

For me personally the hardest step was coming to terms with my diagnosis and accepting it as a part of me- in no way does it define me however it is really important to acknowledge that fact that you have it! I was nervous to seek help and didn’t even know where to start; it wasn’t until a few google searches led me to support pages which discussed mental health, treatments and introduced me to others who truly understood how I felt.

Researching your mental health can be very useful in your recovery! It normalises thoughts and feelings that you have and gives you a better understanding of your condition. With OCD there are many misconceptions and myths regarding the symptoms that a person may experience, and I found that the less ‘desirable’ symptoms are often left out such as intrusive thoughts. This made me think that my experience was ‘dirty’- but this wasn’t true. However, speaking with others gave me the confidence to discuss how I felt, and it created a connection, it made me feel less alone. I found useful pages on Instagram and Facebook which created a safe place for me to express myself and to learn more about coping mechanisms. 

A part of my recovery included taking medication and receiving Cognitive behavioural Therapy. I found CBT a very useful outlet for very intense and overwhelming feelings that I was experiencing. My therapist was able to give me ideas of ways of coping with my thoughts and feelings.

“A tool that I found very useful on days that I was stressed was writing down my thoughts and feelings. I wouldn’t sugar coat my words, it would just be raw emotion; I felt as if I was screaming on the pages. Once I had completed this activity I felt an instant sense of relief, as if a weight had somehow been taken off my shoulders.”

The difficult part was now sorting through my notes and trying to find a way of sorting out my situation whilst acting and thinking in a logical way. I found that by writing everything down it gave me the time to just think without taking my anger out on anyone and possibly creating a bigger issue.

Healing isn’t linear and I still have my bad days, however, being able to join support groups and just take time to fully process how I am feeling really does help. I think that it is very important to admit when you are struggling and to not be scared of receiving help. It isn’t weak to struggle. The first step is always the hardest, but I promise you that it does get easier with time.