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I nearly lost my life to mental illness, now I want to fight back

<Trigger warning: this blog talks about suicide and self-harm>

Millie’s never received an exact diagnosis for her mental health problems, she wants to see an investment in research so other young people don’t struggle like she did. 

Imagine if there was a treatment that could take away mental illness, just like that. Would you have it? I know I would. 100%. At the moment, I manage my mental health – but there are still parts of it I can’t control. 

We need research to be able to find new ways of treating conditions so they no longer impact people’s lives.

I’ve had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and compulsive behaviours since I was very young. My parents first spotted signs when I was 4 years old, I wouldn’t allow any of my food to touch on my plate and I would line up all my toys.

The symptoms got worse as I got older when I developed a fear of touching food. I used to wash my hands an excessive amount and I’d avoid certain situations where I wouldn’t be able to clean my hands straight after. 

I first sought help when I was 15 years old. They weren’t quite sure what diagnosis to give me, different labels were banded about, but they couldn’t tell me for certain what was wrong. I decided to turn down the help and try to tackle it on my own. 

Not long after, depression hit me. I was studying for my A-levels at the time and could feel myself spiralling into sadness. I started self-harming and wanted to stay in bed all the time. I tried to hide it from my friends, but I had to stop going to school so people knew something was wrong.

There was a lack of understanding about what I was going through at school, which I wasn’t entirely prepared for. People used to ask me really bluntly about my self-harms scars without any thought about how it might make me feel.

I had streams of suicidal thoughts and I thought that I would never get better. I kept telling myself that this was it, I’d be depressed and sad forever and there was no hope. During this time, I attempted suicide three times. It must have been so hard for my parents.

I don’t think I would have been able to overcome these destructive thoughts without medication. People are really sceptical about antidepressants but they offered me the ability to push past the negativity and find support. I had an amazing therapist who helped me understand myself much better. I felt like I could discuss everything with her.

I managed to keep going and eventually the depression lifted. I’ve now left home and I’m doing an apprenticeship.

In my darkest days, I never thought I’d get here.

But I still need ways to manage my mental health problems. To this day, I don’t know if I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, compulsive personality disorder or something else. My symptoms don’t fit into a box. I grew up watching my dad’s compulsive behaviours. I wonder, is OCD something I’ve learnt from him or was I born with it? As it stands, we simply don’t know enough about mental health to answer these types of questions.

In order to get the right treatment, first you need to have the right diagnosis. That’s where research can really shed light, enabling people – and doctors – to understand what they’re going through and get them the right care. It’ll help get people the support they need at the earliest opportunity.

But right now, young people going through mental illness are growing up without the understanding we desperately need. 

I nearly lost my life to mental illness, now I want to fight back. That’s why I support MQ.

We're funding Dr Susanne Ahmari to look into the causes of OCD, read about her innovative research. 

Last updated: 11 January 2018

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