So in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it'd be a good idea to share my history of mental health with you all :) (hey this is future Liam, who has just finished typing this blog out and I'm SO SO SO SO SO SO Sorry for how long it is, I genuinely didn't mean for it to be this long, so be prepared for a long read (sorry again)
I always feel like I have had anxiety since as long as I can remember but not as I knew it. Some of my earliest memories are playing with toys and having fun as kids should do!!! and constantly be told to "sit down and shut up" which let's be honest isn't the nicest thing in the world to say to a child. The whole sit down and shut up thing stuck with me, I couldn't really talk to other children in my class such as make conversation with them because I thought they wouldn't care what I have to say or tell me to "shut up" For the longest time I thought I was shy.
Being the "shy" kid didn't really go down so well in secondary school as I was often looked upon as the "weird" kid who didn't speak to anyone. Again here I found it hard to make friends because of the "sit down and shut up" so I didn't have as many friends as I would have liked in secondary school even though I would often hear other classmates talk about something we were mutually interested in, I just physically could not start a conversation with them in case they laughed over me or didn't care what I had to say. So after a time of being the weird kid who had no friends and wouldn't talk to anyone, I was soon bullied which started in year 7 with one person and because of the "sit down, shut up" mentality, I didn't have the courage to speak up and back about the bullying, so that quickly turned into the majority of the year joining in because I was an "easy target" So yeah.....secondary school didn't do much for my confidence haha.
Anyway I finish secondary school and most of the bullies had given up because I wasn't going anywhere because I wanted to complete my education and I start Sixth Form and I just gave up I stopped caring about education and stopped going to Sixth Form altogether as I didn't feel that I was getting much out of it, I still felt like I was being treated as a kid as opposed to an adult. So I basically became a hermit and would sit at home with a laptop, surf the internet all night and sleep all day, rinse repeat for about 9 months. During this time I was getting really depressed, thinking I was literally wasting my life, not knowing what I was going to do with my life and more importantly letting my mum down by wasting my life away. So I decided to go back to Sixth Form and start over with different subjects that I wanted to do instead of carrying on subjects from secondary school. I finished Sixth Form getting AS Levels in Art, Media, ICT and Travel and Tourism.
During this time I had started talking to a few people that I would proudly call friends, I could tell them anything and everything that was going on with my life and it seemed like they actually cared what I had to say and were genuinely interested in having conversations with me. Eventually one by one, the majority of them would stop talking to me and cut me out of their life without a second thought. Which has left me laying awake many nights wondering what I did wrong, what was wrong with me and why I couldn't have friends? Still to this day I continue to feel like this.
A big turning point for my mental health was January 2014. My nan passed away. I was 21 at this point and had never experienced death so close to me before, I had never known anyone personally that had died before and this would be my first funeral that I would attend. I used to visit my nan at least once or twice a month when I was a child, I can still remember all the turns on the bus journey now while I type this. Over the years while I grew up I would visit less and less which I regret right now. It was May/June 2013 the last time I had seen her alive at a family get together and as we were leaving I gave her a hug and was saying bye and because I hadn't visited her in so long.....she didn't remember who I was.That is something that I'm going to live with for the rest of my life and it honestly breaks my heart.
I struggled to find a job over the years, taking pointless "team working" and "communication" courses that didn't help a thing and led nowhere until I eventually got a job with Delta Taxis which was great to start with but I very quickly became overwhelmed in that environment and was getting stomach pains brought on by stress from the job and regularly take days off from work because I couldn't face working there I felt as though I was going to have a panic attack on every shift and quickly became depressed over this as I felt like I needed the job and would be letting everyone down if I didn't stick with it. With not feeling that I had any friends I could ask for help as "sit down, shut up, no one cares what you have to say" was still in my mind I didn't feel like I had anyone to talk to. After speaking with the managers over my attendance, I asked them for help as I was having break downs at least once a week, something had to change. I had one of the managers sit with me during a shift to help me feel at ease, it helped, I'll be honest and management thought that too and didn't help me after that and fired me a few weeks later. This really affected me as with future jobs I never really felt that I could trust the managers that I work with because of this one example.
I have a friend that I met online and have spoken to for over 7 years and she is one of the people that I told everything and anything to and she did the same to me and we build a really strong friendship over the years, the best friendship that I have ever had. Over time we have drifted a part and got into a few arguments here about how I felt like I was being replaced, we weren't friends anymore etc. Until one day I saw a post on Facebook, saying something along the lines of Anxiety makes you feel like your friends are leaving you and don't care about you when its the complete opposite. This clicked in my head of all these years thinking I was just shy, was really me having anxiety, when I figured this out, it was like my eyes had been opened and everything was so much clearer.
Over the last 2 Christmases I have worked as a Christmas Temp at Argos and I worked pretty hard I must admit and I actually enjoyed it there and enjoyed working there, the managers were friendly, unfortunately I was still unable to talk to anyone, but I felt that the pros outweighed the cons during that job. I worked as hard as I could during my time there in 2015 doing as many shifts as I could, even a 12 hour shift on Black Friday in the hopes of being kept on into the new year. I did not. Everyone else did. This really got to me as I put my all into it and 2 months later I have nothing to show for it. That year in 2016 I would take any job that would take me as I was depressed and needed something to take my mind off things and get me out of the house etc. I ended back at Argos again that Christmas and a few weeks in, I was asked if I could do an 8 hour shift one day instead of a 4 hour shift and then work on my day off etc. I don't know what it was but I physically broke down, everything was getting to me, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and it all came crashing down. So I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with stress, anxiety and depression.
My anxiety and depression isn't something that just affects me communicating with work colleagues and friends etc, it has also affecting my communication with my family. Ever since I was a kid I have always been under the impression that no one cares what I have to say and will just talk over me if I try to or just plain tell me to shut up. So because I have always had that feeling, it is really hard for me to even interact with my parents or my brothers or sister. They will come down with their children and I would just stand there focusing on my niece or nephew because no one cares about me, no one wants to talk to me and when they leave and haven't spoken to me, I feel like I have been proven right and that no one cares about me and the exact same thing would've happened whether I was there or not. Even with my aunties and cousins etc. my cousins wedding is in a few weeks and I feel like I'm just going to be isolated for the whole day and it wouldn't be any different if I was there or not which is making me think that I'm just anti social, which I'm really not. Without sounding cliche I feel like I am the black sheep of the family because I can't communicate with people. I hate my anxiety and depression and I constantly think, what could I be doing, where could I be, who would I know, if I didn't have these mental health issues?
I have noticed a tick occur over the past few weeks to do with my depression, I could be having a some what good day then suddenly there would be a mental switch in my head that switch off and that would just drop my mood, I'll mentally shut down and give one word answers and not be interested or be able to concentrate on anything for around an hour. I don't know why it happens or what causes it, it's completely random.
So right now you're all caught up....I think, this is the first time I've really wrote about my mental health and have bound to have missed some important things out but ah well what you going to do haha. No but seriously if you have made it this far and you're still here then thank you so much, I really appreciate you reading this, you have no idea. Have a cookie....if I had one or could pass it through the internet, I'd give you one, but I can't so.....erm....buy yourself one and pretend it's from me :D
Anyway, going to end this on a high, with The Comedy Trust. I volunteered for the Liverpool Comedy Festival in 2016 because I was a fan of the Liverpool Comedy Scene and thought it'd be a lot of fun to be involved with something like this and something that would take my mind off of things and I'm happy to say that I was right. I can honestly say that I had the time of my life in those 2 weeks in September and October, I felt my confidence and communication grow with every show I volunteered at and legitimately loved being there I had a smile on my face every night and truly understood that laughter was the best medicine. It gave me something to focus my negative energy on and turn it into positivity and really help me on a daily basis. It was somewhere I felt welcome and could be the person I truly wanted to be.
When the Liverpool Comedy Festival ended in October, I was a bit lost because it had been such a jam packed 2 weeks and suddenly it was over, luckily for me The Comedy Trust were looking for a Marketing Intern, which I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of because of how much I enjoyed working with them during the festival, not to mention their work with people who suffer with mental health issues, was definitely something I could get behind. I have loved every second working here, Sam and Charlene are 2 of the nicest genuine people I have ever met and it is a pleasure to work with them and have people I can speak with about my mental health issues without being judged.
I don't really know how to end this and it needs to be good because you've read over 2000 words so I'm just going to end it with a gif that always makes me laugh when I feel down.