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Survivors' Prose

My Mind, My Story


“My name is Alisha and I am a survivor learning to live again.”


When another person asks my “story”, what is it that I am supposed to say? My name? My age? My hobbies? Or am I supposed to dig down deep into my darkest days and tell the story of how I tried to kill myself at age sixteen? I have come to the conclusion that my mental illness often steals my introduction. Instead of “Hi, I’m Alisha,” it might as well be “Hi. I am a big ball of crippling depression, debilitating anxiety, a misunderstood emotionally unstable personality disorder and childhood trauma.” Sometimes your illness almost becomes you. It can latch onto you like a leach and suck the life out of you. I sometimes feel like a fizzy drink and each thing that goes “wrong” builds up, and builds up until eventually I explode. Then it starts all over again, each time period becoming shorter and shorter until one small, tiny inconvenience can set me off. In mental health recovery, there are going to be setbacks. I sometimes feel like I’ve been set on fire, dragged through a hedge backwards and mauled by a tiger all at once. I also wonder if I’ll ever get better (whatever that means) and if so which part of me will go? Will it be me? Am I the problem? Or is it the illness? Or maybe its even both? But the truth is no matter how much I fight, scream or shout it has and will always be apart of me forever, no matter what I do. That’s not me being cynical. You really can have a mental illness and live with it. You just have to figure out how. Even though it’s a part of me, it doesn’t define me. Even though its been apart of me for years – I’m still human. I guess though I should introduce both sides of me. I am Alisha. I was born in 1998. I like the colour lilac and dying my hair all colours of the rainbow. My favourite flowers are sunflowers. I love writing (duh!), music makes me happy, animals are my world (especially my cockapoo named “Gemma”) and I love my family and friends and girlfriend very dearly. Now for the bit I don’t really like to talk about, but sometimes you just have to. I am Alisha. I have suffered from mental health issues for years and will probably suffer for a bit longer before I dance my last dance. But who doesn’t suffer at some point in there life? Everyone in life has shit times, low days, heartaches and loss.


We’re all in the same boat. Well, I suppose we all have out own boats, just mine is sinking and on fucking fire. The short story is I was abused as a child by someone very close to me, which left wounds too deep to ever heal properly. It had happened since birth up until age twelve or thirteen. I felt like I had tape over my mouth, keeping me silent and when it did cross my mind to talk or to tell someone the fear I felt was indescribable. I can’t quite remember everything because these are memories I have pushed out. Although, I wouldn’t recommend pushing them out because they always come back one way or another. You have to work through them, no matter how painful they are. When contact with my abuser stopped, at first I was relieved but then things started to build up because I kept it all to myself. I was very depressed and I barely ate (unlike I do now). I hated school. I hated it with a passion and I would cry every morning because I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t bullied. I just hated it so much and didn’t feel like I fitted in. I would live inside my own head, making up stories and pushing out the past. The more I pushed it away, the more it came back. I began hearing voices, seeing things like shadows and feeling things on my skin. I began cutting at age twelve. It helped to start with. It was like a release, like I was letting all the negative energy out. But then I couldn’t stop -it became an addiction. I sometimes self-harmed as a punishment. I hated myself with a passion and I was beyond the point of caring. At age thirteen, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was hardly at school, but it was mainly due to my mental health. I think the low moods and pains linked into my depression and anxiety. But you see I didn’t tell anyone about my mental health, so how could they know? Those close to me knew something was up and tried so hard to help. I was back and forth to the doctors so many times I lost count. Every doctor I saw, I felt as though they didn’t understand me and as though I was beyond help. No one seemed to understand. At age fourteen I was referred to CAMHS or EWHMS as its now known as which is the child and adolescent mental health service. I didn’t tell CAMHS anything because I wasn’t ready, so they couldn’t do much. At this point, I was up and down A&E for reasons such as self-harm, suicidal ideation and flashbacks. Police were called several times due to my mental state. At age fifteen, I had my first admission to a psychiatric unit. They were useless. It was said I was lacking sleep and just needed some rest, which was true because I did, but they never looked into as to why I didn’t sleep. I suppose though, you can’t help someone who isn’t ready to be helped. I tried different medications to help me sleep and with my mood and anxiety. Some made me feel better, others made me feel worse and nearly all of them made me even more exhausted than I already was. My attendance at school was appalling, but I managed to scrape some GCSE’s. At age sixteen, I started college, but it wasn’t long into the course that I started thinking of suicide, really thinking of it. It’s like a mist - you can barley see anything and it’s the only thing I thought about. Sure, I carried on with daily life. Going to college, come back home, cry and think of different plans of how I could end my life. On November 3rd 2014, at age sixteen, I tried to kill myself. It was the worst night of my life - mentally and physically. My family thought they were going to lose me. I just wanted to die at the time. I wanted to be unconscious at least, but I still remember being violently sick and feeling pain like I’ve never experienced before.    Afterwards, I was admitted to a psychiatric unit where I deteriorated very quickly. I was self-harming every day, being restrained and injected and being watched most of the time by staff members. I had no freedom. I was dosed up on medication. I was informal at first but then I got sectioned. It was like I didn’t belong to myself. I couldn’t make decisions for myself and I had no choice in the treatment I received.  I was on a psychiatric intensive care unit for ten long months and then a open ward for three months. It sort of become normal; the things I saw and the things that happened to me. I had no control and this is when my disordered eating got worse. I’ve always struggled with eating, but I started vomiting after every meal and/or not eating at all. I was underweight at the time. Meanwhile, I had disclosed to a staff member about the abuse that happened when I was younger and it was passed onto the police. After months and months of investigation, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them. I felt like I was kept in the dark, like I was the criminal and was going to be placed on trial. Of course that was not the case because I had done nothing wrong. I tried to end my life again, but somehow they thought I was well enough to be discharged. I had a good patch. My disordered eating changed and I started eating far too much and piling on the weight. I did my therapies such as CBT and EMDR. I then got refereed to do trauma counselling and started going to a social group, which has probably been one of the best things for my mental health. I did a little volunteer job at a farm. We moved house, which helped a lot. I tried college several times, but it just wasn’t for me. Unable to work, I claim benefits and try my best each day to be “normal”. In June 2018 I had a relapse and I was admitted to an adult ward after some suicide attempts where I was diagnosed with Emotionally unstable personality disorder. With that and my diagnosis of major depressive disorder and PTSD, when I was discharged I was put forward to do DBT (it was a years wait). I completed DBT or STEPPS as its also known as. I had a long break in the middle due to COVID-19 and eventually we finished it over online meetings. After that, I’ve managed to stay out of hospital and look after my beautiful dog Gemma who has helped me so much. I’ve been on holidays, adventures with family and friends and I started doing a psychology with counselling degree with the open university. I came to terms with my sexuality. I have a beautiful girlfriend and a beautiful new puppy. My mum overcome cancer. I mean life isn’t great still, I still struggle, but I just try and treasure the good moments. I’m still on medication. I’m currently waiting to see a neurologist about these episodes I have where my eyes rollback in my head.  This is only some of my story and it’s the short version. Now, I am doing better than I ever have been. I’m taking each day as it comes which is the most frustrating thing ever at times, but it works. If you think too far ahead then your brain goes into overload. My plans for the future are to qualify as a counsellor, travel (when it’s safe), get married, have children and juat enjoy life. I encourage you, if you are reading this and are struggling, please don’t give in. People need you. You need you. Keep going.




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