Family Problems by Amy

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Family problems became a difficulty for me at the age of 13. My relationship with my Mum deteriorated about this time. The problems started when my Mum’s partner moved into the family home. My parents split up a few years earlier when I was 8. We were still living in the same house but we barely talked. I couldn’t accept any affection from her.

I was under a lot of stress and my school work suffered. I had no motivation or concentration. I was prescribed anti-depressants when I was 17. My Mum caught me taking aerosols and took me to the doctor. I stopped taking the anti-depressants after 6 months as I didn’t feel they were helping. I had been saving them up and was thinking of taking an overdose. But my mother found the tablets in time.

When I was 18 I left home and moved in with my Dad because I wasn’t getting on with my Mum. During this time I didn’t realise how my relationship with my Mum was affecting other areas of my life. I felt really angry with her. This anger clouded my relationship with her and also with other people in my life. Even though I missed her, the anger was so strong that I didn’t feel like I missed her at all.

However, the anger I had crossed over into other areas of my life. I had difficulties relating to other people and had a real problem regulating my emotions and dealing with certain situations. One day I became very aware of not being able to make eye contact with people. I found it very difficult to look people in the eye. A friend of mine actually became very annoyed by this and I ended up losing that friendship because of it.

Around the same time, I was with a group of my friends and I suddenly became very silent and was unable to speak. It was very distressing.
At the time I felt worthless, inadequate and scared. I was paranoid that people were thinking these same thoughts about me. I felt really isolated and alone. I couldn’t communicate with anyone. I felt I was going silently insane. After many ups and downs, I eventually got in touch with a psychiatrist to talk about my problems. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and prescribed medication. My psychiatrist says that I won’t be on tablets forever. She is very good and I’m able to talk to her openly about everything.

After this I started taking baby steps towards recovery. I began to challenge my negative feelings about myself. I started writing down how I was feeling and what I thought others were thinking about me. It was easier for me to write these thoughts down and show them to someone I trusted than to tell it one-to-one or face-to-face.

Things are getting better now. I’m still in regular contact with my psychiatrist. I also attend my local GROW Mental Health support group. This keeps me in touch with people who understand. They all suffer from mental health issues and it’s great to be able to talk openly and safely on at the weekly meetings. Nobody is sitting there judging you. You can also help other people because of your experience.

As well as attending GROW meetings, I also use the website, SpunOut.ie, which provides support and advocacy opportunities to young people throughout the country. I’m also back studying. I’m now studying Psychology & Social Care. With further study I eventually hope to become a counsellor.I still have the tendency to get panicky and anxious sometimes. What makes me most anxious is when I’m on my own a lot or just not thinking right. I find it hard to pinpoint but I’m getting better at managing it.

When you’re going through mental health issues, it’s like being pushed into a rose bush. It really hurts. When you’re coming out of it, you still feel some pain, but at least you’re on the way out.

Amy’s Tips

  1. Look for help as early as possible
  2. Try to challenge your negative thinking with positive thinking, it takes practise but it’s worth it
  3. Write down how you feel – unknown stuff might come up sometimes but that’s ok
  4. Use online support if you find it difficult to talk – Make sure it’s a trusted website. (Spunout.ie is a good starting point to find support sites)
  5. Challenge yourself to reach out for help to even one person – you may be helping them too