TaiT - Jay shares his experience with his mental health.
I’m 21 years old and from Blyth, Northumberland.
I live in Leeds where I study theoretical physics.
I have a really supportive and understanding immediate family.
HISTORY OF MENTAL HEALTH
Looking back my first symptoms of depression and anxiety surfaced when I was in my later years of high school around the age of 15. This is something I never spoke about, being from a very white working class background I was taught ‘boy’s don’t cry’ and that I needed to be strong.
When I was in my final year of sixth form aged 17 my mam suffered a severe stroke (February 2016) while my dad was in Birmingham with his father who was fighting in the hospital. This is when I first found myself really struggling to cope and found comfort in hurting myself and drinking a lot, this became a running theme for my late teens.
Moving to university I found comfort in this being a fresh start away from my problems. It didn’t last long after a relationship break up with who had been my rock. I found myself unable to trust girls and I didn’t feel good enough for anyone.
In my second year I suffered a lot with poor mental health but found myself being a lot more vocal about how I was feeling with some of my close friends, excessive drinking and experimenting with drugs was a way to escape and forget.
Towards the end of my second year I tried out bouldering and that became my new escape, it really improved my mental health as I now had a place in my life where I actually felt confident in myself.
In my third year I eventually self referred and started counselling and taking sertraline. Counselling worked well but sertraline didn’t, side effects made me spiral down into an even worse state. I tore ligaments when bouldering too and haven’t been able to climb since which obviously added to a breakdown in my mental health and feeling as lowest as I've ever felt.
Since then I’ve made a real effort to find good habits and learn to accept myself. I take citalopram which definitely helps. I talk to people when I need to. I have time to myself when I need to. I spend less time on social media. I understand my emotions more, both good and bad. - I didn’t sit my final year exams and have decided to redo the year so I can continue to improve my mental health before I go back to uni. I’ve been doing really well lately and can honestly say I am excited for the future which is something I never thought I’d find myself saying.
MY RISK FACTORS
Relationships. I struggle to find the balance and usually put too much into relationships with girls that I forget to take care of myself.
Rejection. I’ve always felt a need to be liked by everyone and think there must be something fundamentally wrong with me if someone doesn’t like me.
Alcohol. I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with alcohol and its something I’m still working on. When I’m down and drinking excessively I act out of character and make impulsive decisions which only makes me feel worse in the long run, when I have to deal with the consequences of my actions. However, I think I am starting to find the balance.
MY PROTECTIVE FACTORS
I’ve always loved music and found it to be an outlet. I really enjoy going to see live bands and shutting out the world around me for a few hours.
Exercise. I can’t stress enough how much exercise helps me stay level headed, in a few weeks I’m having surgery to fix my ligament so I can get back to being active.
My friends. I wish I started talking to my friends about how I’m feeling much earlier than I did. The support network I have around me is amazing, knowing there are people who will listen to me and give advice where they can without any judgement is amazing.
Matt Haig- Reasons to stay alive. I’ve never enjoyed reading but Matt is a super author and this book really helped put everything in perspective. It was the first time I had picked a book up in years and I genuinely found it difficult to stop reading.
Family. I might not tell them everything but the unconditional love and support is sometimes all I need.