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Sarah-Jane's Journey
Posted by Leon Hubert
18th Jun 2015

Sarah-Jane shared her journey through anxiety and depression with us. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

23rd July 2014. The first day I called in sick to work due to crippling anxiety.

25th july 2014. I visit my gp and was diagnosed with severe depression and begin treatment.

Almost one year on I am still on the road to recovery.
Over the past 11 months I have struggled with panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, self harm, social anxiety and crippling depression. I have lost friends and family along the way as so many have shown a complete lack of understanding of mental health or even a willingness to learn.

Through it all i made a decision to be open and honest about my experiences and I'm so glad i did. I know I have inspired people to talk about their feelings and even seek help from their own gp for their mental health.
The last year has completely changed my outlook on life but i know 100% if i didnt have the support of my fiancé i wouldnt be here to write this now.

In December of 2014 i moved back in with my parents as being unemployed on benefits took its toll! This move was supposed to help me get better but instead brought a whole new set of challenges. There have been more meltdowns since moving back in with my parents than i ever had living alone. I dont think they will ever fully understand my mental illness. They try but sadly when you haven't experienced such severe mental illness yourself it can be difficult to understand.

However Shannon is like super woman. She is always there. She knows just what to say, sometimes she gets it wrong but 95% of the time she is dead on! I can honestly say hand on heart that without her you would have already attended my funeral. She has single handedly got me through some of the toughest times i have ever experienced and it has only served to make our relationship stronger.
The messages of support i get often from friends, aquanteces and the like are inspiring and help pick me up on the bad days. When im labelled as an attention seeker or an actor i just remember that being honest is helping people to reach out. Thats good enough for me!
So in recent months i was feeling very useless not working. Felt like a failure. A drain on society. I knew i had to do something if i was to improve my mindset so i decided to start working on some charity events.

First up - june 13th 2015 west highland way in a day. 12 miles from Milngavie to Drymen.

Ashley and ryan were the first to say il join you. I set a fundraising page up with a £100 target and in total raised £135 for the stv appeal. A wonderful cause working to end child poverty in Scotland!

However this walk was about much more than the charity. It was a massive personal challenge. In the last 11 months i have barely left the house. I became a recluse due to my social anxiety and would often spend hour after hour locked away in my bedroom. Not eating, not speaking to anyone just left alone in my room with my negative thoughts.

This walk was my chance to give something back and prove to myself that i can overcome difficulties.
Which we absolutely did! The walk itself was really hard going and i do believe i underestimated the whole thing. I hadn't trained properly due to my anxiety i wasn't really ever going out alone.

In the first mile we encountered a steep hill, halfway up i feel the burning in my lungs and the agony in my knee. I wanted to give up. I was ashamed of my weakness. The voice i my head said you cant do this. You arent good enough. Turn back now before you embarrass yourself further.

The voice was wrong. My friends spurred me on. Told me i could do it. We walked on and things got easier. Before i knew it we had hit 7 miles and it was less distance to the finish than it was going back. This meant only one thing for it...keep going!
The last 4 miles were a killer. I felt like the end was never coming. Ryan had pushed on ahead of myself and ashley, so it was just the two of us. 

We got chatting to two women and i explained my journey with mental illness and why i was doing the walk. 

They were so amazed at what i was doing. I couldn't believe it. For the first time in months i began to realise that I had come a really long way.
They supported me the rest of the way as we met with them at various points of the walk.

In the last section me and ashley were separated as she powered on to the finish line in search of a toilet! Desperate times call for desperate measures haha!

So i was left step by step behind her. Me and my thoughts. Burning pain in my legs, my back and my feet. I keep thinking i cant make it to the final line but have to keep saying 'come on SJ you've got this' to beat the gremlin in my mind who would have happily given up 1/4 of a mile in!

Then i see the sign...Drymen! Thank the lord. Almost there. I keep walking and up ahead i see one of the women and ashley. The woman is waiting for me and she walks the last stage by my side. Im met with applause from her friend and their children. I cant believe their response. Im blown away and incredibly proud of myself. It hits home just how big an achievement the walk was for me and my emotions get the better of me.

I cried at the end but happy tears. I was so proud of myself, ashley and ryan. We walked 12 miles for charity and learnt so much about ourselves on the way.

Life is like that 12 mile walk. Some parts are easier than others and sometimes we just want to give in. However there is a finish line and its easier to look forward than it is to go back. There are wonderful things to see and do along the way and its a whole lot easier when you talk and share your experiences with other people.

So be open about your experiences, your worries or your problems. Tell your friends, family, partner or even a stranger. You will be amazed at how supportive people can be.

Thank you for reading. I know its been long. Thank you for your on going support. The recovery continues!

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