I have struggled for years with mental health; when I was younger, I hated the way I looked and I was so hard on myself about everything. I was never pretty or smart and I thought I didn't please my parents. My brother was the golden star of the family, and still is to this day. I starved myself and I always thought I was worthless, useless and wondered if I would hit 20.
At 18, I discovered I was pregnant. I ended up having an abortion. It was the best thing at the time that I could have done and I don't regret it to this day. I went on to study at university and accomplish things I never dreamed of. But all the while I struggled with bad thoughts; how worthless I was, thoughts of self-harm and suicide. It became my norm, my usual, and I just accepted it.
When I finished studying, I found a job working in mental health. From my first day, I loved it so much. Listening to everyone's stories about their journey was so fascinating. I had found something that gave me motivation to get up in the morning. I have friends and family around me who say they could never do what I do for a job, yet I love it, I thrive off it. I still struggled with my thoughts; I had been put on a short course of antidepressants after my abortion, but had stopped those by this point.
I have always been one to internalise how I feel; part of me wanted to talk about how I felt, the other part of me suppressed it all until it would come out in one big explosion. I noticed I was doing this yet accepted it, as it was what I always did.
One day, one of my workmates looked at me and asked several times if I was okay; I wasn't. I was suppressing tears and was finding it hard to not cry. That afternoon, I just lost it. I was this screaming mess and all my thoughts and feelings came crashing out.
I decided then to get help. I started seeing a psychologist and became medicated again. My psychologist was amazing, I found it so easy to talk to her about everything that had happened; all the bad thoughts and feelings and everything that had been going on. I felt as if I was taking control. But after a while of feeling great, I started to slip again; bad thoughts had been my norm for so long and I started slipping back into that thought pattern of self-harm/suicide thoughts.
This was when the question was raised; should I be working in mental health? I say yes, I love my work so much that even after a shitty day, I'm pumping to go in the next day. Do I get triggered? Strangely no; I developed a skill years ago where I can leave my personal life at the door and focus on what I'm meant to be doing. I don't take work home with me and I leave my personal life in the car when I arrive. I have a self-harming client that doesn't trigger me, I can look at her scars and we can talk about it but it doesn't give me that impulse.
Today, I still struggle with my depression. My thoughts are dark currently but I am working my way through this. My work is amazing at supporting me during these bad times and my clients actually help put a smile on my face. It gives me motivation to get up, instead of hiding in my bed. It's therapeutic working; I tell my clients that to feel better, they need to get up and keep their mind busy to keep the voices and thoughts at bay. When they do this, they thank me for helping them feel better. And to make one person's day better is all I ask for.
Will I move on from working in mental health? Maybe one day, but right now, it's where I'm meant to be.