Melanie tells her story of how mental illness affected her and her family
In my teenage years I noticed that my family members were a bit concerned about experiences that I was having so I was quite young at the time. Having these experiences needing to go and see professionals meant that I wasn’t able to concentrate on just being a kid and growing up. It stunted my growth, it meant that I wasn’t doing the things that other people were doing. I couldn’t hold down a stable relationship, or a job. It was difficult for me to know how my mental distress was impacting on my family because I was so wrapped up in what was going on for me.
I now understand that mental distress is not just about the person that is experiencing it, the whole family goes through the mental distress with the person
I really lost my sense of self, and felt that my identity was wrapped around the label that had been put on my back. I am only just now starting to really shed that label and to see that there is much more to me as a person than just a mental health diagnosis. There were different things that helped me cope, not all of them were healthy.
I ended up using drugs & alcohol for a long time to cope because I didn’t have any other coping strategy
I went through a treatment program in a rehab for 9 months which completely changed the way that I looked at myself and looked at life. I had to stop relying on drugs and alcohol to change my feelings and I had to learn how to manage my emotions on my own and if I hadn’t have learnt those things then I probably wouldn’t be alive today.
HelpingMinds has definitely given my family a sense of empowerment because we don’t feel ashamed anymore, we feel like we can speak out about our experiences. Day to day now life is fantastic, I have a wonderful partner whom I am getting married to next year, we have 2 beautiful boys – my stepsons.
I have got a very loving family, an amazing support network I really love the work that I do and most of the time life is good.”
There are so many things I can do now which I wasn’t able to do before – I can hold down a job, I can hold down relationships and I can feel good about myself which I think is the main thing