This post is one that I’ve wanted to write for a while now, but everyone who has had an experience with mental health will know that it isn’t easy to talk about until you feel healed enough to be able to move forward. The reason I’ve wanted to share my story is to help people who may have been through the same or similar to me – if I can help just one person, then the roller coaster of my mental health journey will all be worth it.
It’s always difficult to pinpoint a specific moment when your journey began – but for me I think it stems back to age 6. However, it took me 9 years to actually tell someone how I felt – and that’s totally normal believe me, mental health is such a personal journey and one that is very difficult to explain.
This is my first time sharing the details online, so here we go, it’s time to get vulnerable and real with you. My mental health has been at its worst surrounding two men – my father and an ex boyfriend.
For this story to be complete, let’s start back where it all began – I’m aged 6 and completely oblivious to what’s about to happen. My family got the call saying my father had been in a car accident – he escaped unharmed with no physical damage. For a while after that everything was fine, he was my dad and we were happy. Then one day, almost a year later, the first signs he had changed became apparent. He became distant, got into meditation and wasn’t my dad anymore. Don’t get me wrong, normal meditation is totally great – but this kind was more like brainwashing. He got into a bad crowd and started spiralling out of control.
By the time I got to age 8 my life felt like hell – something no child should ever have to experience. It was my 8th birthday and I had to be taken away by a family member because my father had locked himself in my brand new playhouse and was smashing around. From there it got worse, he started shouting at me – it was worse when my mother wasn’t around, and when she was he still did it, just labelling it as discipline.
This was only going to get worse, he started having a go at me for having fun, for laughing, for being a kid. He threw away my toys and made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be alive. My mother wouldn’t find out about this emotional abuse until I had undergone extensive counselling many years later. Believe me this is a big burden for any child to carry on their shoulders, I used to dread coming home and he would tell me that it was perfectly normal for him to do these things to me. After my parents split up, Katie aged 11 had to go on weekend visits to his house. It was during one of these visits that he first hurt me, shoving me on the stairs, leaving me with a scar forever noticeable on my stomach. But let me tell you, at this point my mental state was at rock bottom, I didn’t know how to carry on and felt ashamed to be his daughter.
The final straw though, was 3 years ago – when he accused me of stealing from him. He had me backed up against a radiator, the door locked, shouting at me… He had no proof and his story kept changing, first £20 was missing, and then the amount went up to £250 in the space of about 5 minutes of his shouting. The truth is, he was broke, he doesn’t work, he relies on his mother and father for money and I don’t know what he was trying to achieve but it didn’t work. With the help of my incredible counsellor, I plucked up the courage to phone my father and tell him I wasn’t going back, I finally told my mother and I was free.
Now, as of today – I haven’t seen my father for 3 years, my last day with him was one of him threatening me and accusing me of stealing. I never went back. He continues to send me texts, pretty much every day which go ignored and I’m feeling a lot stronger.
As a result of my fathers abuse, I’ve lost grandparents, cousins, aunties, uncles, family I will probably never see again. However, to them he can do no wrong, to them I am lying or I’m in the wrong, I don’t know. But guys, childhood (and adult) abuse exists in many different forms and believe me I know it’s scary to speak up, but please do! I promise it’s worth it, you ARE worth it!
If you are a victim of any abuse, this message is for you:
I know that life is so hard for you right now, believe me I get it. But you, your smile, everything about you is so beautiful and so so pure. You are worth so much more than they can give you and you deserve to be beyond happy. I know you have the strength to fight this, because you are a survivor! We are all survivors! We’re all in this together, you are not alone and you are loved by so many!
Love, Your fellow fighter x
Phew… that was a tearjerker for me to write… okay guys, so that was the start of my mental health issues. The ordeals and years of suffering triggered the start of crippling anxiety and depression – possibly conditions that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I was doing okay for a while after leaving my father, I felt empowered and met someone I genuinely loved. But of course, there are always ups and downs, and I was heading for a major down. It’s September 2018 and we’ve just broken up – you would assume that this would be the end of things and we would part ways. But no, he decided that to break my heart wasn’t good enough so he turned a massive group of friends against me.
We broke up in September… This went on until March… Yes I know, 6 months! The truth is I was way too scared of being alone to block him until that day in March. I went from having friends, a boyfriend, being happy – to being alone, fighting with him literally every day for those 6 months and being blackmailed by one of my (ex) closest friends. Now this situation is horrible at the best of times, but I already had depression and anxiety so it was a million times worse than it should have been.
It got to a point where I was terrified to go to my business course, I was crying my eyes out, having severe panic attacks every single day. I was in danger of losing everything, messing up my course, not being able to take my final exams but I just didn’t seem to care. I was on self destruct mode, arguing every day and it took a major toll on my health – not just mentally. I stopped taking care of myself, and I never thought I would say this, but yes, the thought of ending everything was pressing on my mind.Even my blog was making things worse, I was trying to create the picture perfect life on my channels and it truly did break me inside. Just a quick side note: please, if you ever feel this low just take a step back from everything and seek help – because I nearly did something I would’ve deeply regretted.
I almost ran away, I was fighting with my family – and my ex was finding it funny. He’d done it, he’d got what he wanted and then ruined my life. He was happy, he had everything still and laughed to see me in the gutter.
It’s cliche of me to say, but one morning I woke up, looked in the mirror and saw a new me. I thought about my life and what I wanted my future to look like and that is honestly what changed my life. I found the strength that previous day, sitting in the park and looking at a small child with her parents. I thought about what I would want for my future kids and how I had the ability to change lives in the future with my story. I blocked my ex, walked back in with my head held high and now I’m chasing my dreams.
Thank you guys so much for listening to my story, it genuinely means so much. I hope that hearing my journey has helped some of you in some way. It was so hard to share and I definitely got through a lot of tissues – but it was so healing! If you can ever find the strength to share your story then do it, it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! This community is so kind and amazing – I guarantee you would get loads of support! It’s a difficult thing to do but for me it feels like I’m closing the book on that part of my life and getting closure to be able to move on.
MY TOP TIPS & ADVICE:
So I wanted to share my story before I tried to give you some advice, I wanted you to believe in what I am going to tell you next without doubting my legitimacy to be able to give you this advice. What I’m about to tell you changed my life and took me years to figure out, so hopefully these tips can help you make a positive change to your life before mental health burns you out.
My first tip is an oldie but definitely key to feeling better about yourself: Self care. I know, I know – typical blogger preaching self care but it is SO important and honestly I think it’s one of the things that helped me the most. I recommend that you create a self care box – fill it with things that make you happy, then only use the box when you really need it so it remains special and helpful. To give you some inspiration, here is my checklist of things I put in my own box: (obviously every box will be personal but I hope this helps!)
– Comfy oversized pyjamas (when I have low moments in my mental health, I often feel suffocated so the last thing I want to be wearing is tight clothes!) – Your favourite blanket
– Some feel good snacks (girl now is not the time for healthy eating – I keep chocolate in my box!)
– A collection of your favourite feel good quotes
– Tissues (are a definite must have!)
– Your favourite feel good DVD (or one that makes you weep happy tears,) either one works for me!
– Your favourite music (I have an Ipod just for my self care feel good songs!)
– Stress Ball
– A book (either your favourite book, or a book on mindfulness etc – for me I choose a compilation book with funny cat stories to cheer me up – anyone that knows me knows I love cats!)
– A colouring book or some colouring sheets with bright and beautiful colour pens or pencils
– Pamper items: face masks, bath soak, bath bombs, shower gel, body spritz, face care items etc.
– A journal and pen
Journal leads onto my next piece of advice! I have in total 6 journals, all detailing my darkest feelings and experiences ever since I was aged 10. I found it really therapeutic, and while I haven’t had the courage to read them back – I hope that maybe one day I can reflect on them and use them to the greater good. I definitely recommend writing a journal, even if you don’t ever read them back, or burn them, whatever floats your boat! But just writing the thoughts and feelings down gets them out of your mind and allows you to begin to move on.
I know people preach this, but it really is so important! Ever since I’ve started taking regular exercise I’ve felt so much better. For some people this can be going to the gym, for me it’s simply walking my puppy! It’s so lovely to just go out with no plan and walk, I guarantee you will feel instantly better! I challenge you today, to go out somewhere in your local area and explore – turn off your phone, explore your region and feel instantly refreshed! I’m heading to walk my local beach today! Go for it!
CANDLES & REFLECTION
This is cliche but reflection is so important, and what better way to do it than staring into a flickering flame. This is one of my favourite pieces of advice for feeling better when experiencing lows in your mental health because it really does help! Go and light your favourite scented candle, breathe deeply and reflect for an instant uplift!
BUBBLE BATHS & ESSENTIAL OILS
Do I even need to explain?! Bubble baths are SO amazing! As soon as I started taking them regularly (at least once a week) I felt so much better! It’s a great way to unwind, and adding an essential oil to the bath water is also awesome! Different oils have different properties that can help you, so be sure to choose the right one during your bath depending on your mood. My favourites at the moment are Ylang Ylang and Vanilla.
Remember how amazing you are & REMIND YOURSELF EVERY DAMN DAY.
This is really important! You are amazing, you are wonderful, you are incredible, and most importantly you are worth it! Write a list of positive affirmations about yourself (and refresh this list regularly.) You need to tell yourself these in the mirror at least twice a day, read them, or even record you saying them and play it back to yourself! I know it may seem cringey, but believe me – believing it is half the battle!
DEVELOP A THOROUGH SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Skin care is so important, I love to go for facials at my local spa! But even for us budget lovers, a skincare routine is easily doable and can make a massive change to your life! I like to separate my skincare into 2 categories: one simpler routine twice a day to leave my skin feeling fresh and lovely & a long routine including a bubble bath once a week (usually on a Friday night!) I’m not going to go into my skincare routine right now, but maybe it would be something to discuss at a later date on my blog!
DECLUTTERED HOME = DECLUTTERED MIND
I love tidying (am I weird?!) but no, seriously – try it! It really does work! I try to do a big house clean (especially my bedroom) every couple of months. This includes throwing stuff out, dusting, a thorough hoover, and sometimes even rearranging furniture! It’s so much fun because it means my space is always changing which stops my atmosphere from becoming mundane and negatively impacting on my mental state.
CUDDLE YOUR PETS
Pets are the best! I’ve had all manor of pets in my lifetime: rabbits, fish, dogs, cats and they all have had calming qualities in one way or another! Currently I have my 1 year old puggle pup Cookie and my 7 year old cat Muffin! If you have a pet (or can borrow one from a friend or relative!!) I would strongly recommend pet cuddles, it is so healing and provides you with such a great sense of comfort during difficult times!
CONCLUSION & THANK YOU’S
I just wanted to clarify, that although I’ve come through the worst of my journey, a couple of months ago this was a totally different story! It’s by implementing all of the steps above frequently that I am able to look forward to my future instead of dreading the next day. This was a very long journey and there are still ups and downs, but I definitely feel a lot better now. The journey to recovery is not easy, I want you to know that the above methods are not a get better quick scheme, it’s a long road to recovery but these definitely help. Every person and their situation is unique so each recovery time will also be different! Even though I am now over the last situation, I know there will be more hardships in the future and that’s okay – at least now I know how I can help myself before it spirals out of control like the last time. I really do hope it helps you too.
Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope my advice has helped someone out there! It has been my pleasure to share this with you, if this has helped you, be sure to share so it can help someone else too 🙂 I’m going to drop some helpful numbers and websites down below that you can call/email etc if life feels like its getting too much for you. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to them – you ARE worth it!
You can also reach out to me anytime you like via any of the links in the ‘about me’ section below! I am so happy to listen, or give advice, or try and help in any way that I can. I’d love to be your internet friend and chat with you about any problems you may have, no judgement, just support. I wish I had someone to talk to back when I was suffering, so if you need that someone to talk to just know that I’m here! Just so you know, I have had personal experience with many of the websites I’m linking below, they’re amazing and quite possibly have saved my life!
Anyway, here are some links where you can find numbers, emails, advice and live chats:
Hi, I’m Katie! I’m a soon to be full time travel and lifestyle blogger! But most importantly I’m a Puggle Mama to Cookie! I am currently a business student and specialise in social media strategy and digital marketing! Life Behind the Lens (the Lifestyle section of my blog) is coming out June 29th 2019! My new business and my services page is also coming out soon so definitely stay tuned! You can receive exclusive updates by clicking any of the links below:
I look forward to getting to know you all better on the socials 🙂