Posts By: Solas
“I have suffered from anxiety for many years. I think that I managed to keep it to myself for a while. I started having panic attacks about three or four years ago. At the time I felt really lonely, and wasn’t sure how other people would react to how I was feeling. It is something so personal, I felt totally out of control, and that my life as I knew it was slipping away from me. I was lucky that I had some friends and family who were supportive, however there were definitely people who couldn’t or wouldn’t understand how I was feeling. When my panic attacks were at their worst I was unable to leave the house, as I was having panic attacks several times a day – feeling like I was going to die.
I got the feeling from some people, that they were thinking – ‘well why can’t you get out of the house, you are perfectly ‘healthy?’’ I felt that people on the outside looking in would have not have understood how I was feeling, and that would make me feel even more isolated. People thought I just wasn’t cut out for university, the student life obviously wasn’t for me. People only saw me as the illness. They didn’t see me for the person I was and they judged what I did based on that. If I couldn’t do something because I was ill, people just thought that was me, that was my personality.
But I thought the same of myself. I thought this is just who I am. I saw my anxiety as weakness and part of having a weak personality. I was hard on myself and didn’t think I could be treated. I thought this was just how I would be for the rest of my life. My advisor of studies was fantastic. He really helped me when it was all too much. However I feel that some of the lecturers on the course just thought I couldn’t cope with the work, and didn’t really give me a chance. Now that I am in better health I am back studying, which I am really enjoying. We want everyone to work together; people who have never had mental health problems should take action as well. You can’t just think that mental health problems will never affect you, because it could. It can affect anyone.”
“In 2005 I started a job with a major credit card company. I loved my job and as far as I was concerned it was a job for life. April 2006 I was diagnosed with anxiety, stress and depression.
My doctor signed me off for 2 months at first. In total I was off for 6 months. During that time off I was also seeing the company doctor who agreed with everything my GP was saying so I had his backing too.
When I went back to work it was on a staged return. I couldn’t wait to get back into my old role. That never happened. I was put on filing duties and that was all I did for 4 hours. The person who took over my role was always asking for my help as she didn’t have a clue what she was doing. Anytime I helped her I was told I was not allowed to help.
Later that day I was called back into the office. The stand in manager told me “We don’t think you are suited to the company anymore. Hand in your notice and we will pay you what is due. If we have to fire you, we won’t pay you a penny.” They had given me no choice so I resigned.
I went to a lawyer who was great, however, the company told him “she quit which was a good thing as her work was poor. That is why we asked her to resign” Even he knew it was because I had a mental health condition. There was nothing he could do to prove it. I was left jobless and heartbroken. The job I loved so much had been taken away and I was being treated like I had some deadly contagious disease.”
“Stigma around mental illness hasn’t gone away. People still believe that mental illness isn’t an illness, that it’s the sufferer to blame for feeling that way because how can your mind control the way you feel, it’s surely the person who controls it? Wrong.
I suffer from SAD. I have suffered for years and have only recently been diagnosed. I find it especially hard during Christmas, which I am working on, however some people truly believe those that suffer could deal with it better, because who doesn’t love Christmas? It’s just one day right?
People who have never suffered don’t understand how powerful depression can shadow and control your life until you’ve mentally been there. They just believe it’s all in your head.”
“Personality Disorders are very misunderstood.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I feel the stigma of this disorder comes from the misleading name. People hear the name and make the wrong assumption.
I also think the stigma comes partly from the misleading character portrayals in movies. If you Google BPD in movies, you will get a list of films with the role of BPD in the main character. All of these characters are violent, manipulative and most are serial killers. It does nothing for the stigma.
With the condition being focused around emotional issues, discrimination can deeply affect sufferers of BPD by affecting them more emotionally than normal.”
There are many articles and studies on mental health but sometimes by just reading someone else’s personal story who has struggled with their mental health it can make it that much easier for us to accept our own struggles for what they are. I will post a number of similar stories from the See Me End Mental Health Discrimination campaign in later blogs…
“I’ve lived with clinical depression for about 15 years and the reason I know that depression is so misunderstood is that the most common reaction I get from people is “You’re a beautiful girl with a great job, a lovely home and a fantastic family – what do you have to be depressed about?”
People still seem to think that depression is a choice and not an illness just like any physical one. A wealthy Stockbroker friend of mine was exhibiting all the classic signs of depression and went to his doctor for a full health check.
When his doctor told him that he believed he was suffering from depression, my friend insisted on a brain scan for a brain tumour as “People like me don’t get depression!”
There still exists so much prejudice and stigma around depression despite it being so common. So it’s important that we keep talking about it and showing that ALL kinds of people can get depression – again just like any physical illness.”
If you would like to read the rest of Tracey’s story and others who have spoken out, some stories will be posted here or you can go to the See Me End Mental Health Discrimination website