This is defiantly not something I usually do. To be honest I was shocked and didn’t really feel I deserved to be a part of this, but I have been asked to share my journey and how I managed to complete a college course, even though I have a mental illness.

Where it all began

I first realised I was ill when I was fairly young, much like now lows and highs came in waves. Although at that age it was much more overwhelming and the only emotion I could every express was my anger, which I bet you could Imagine how insanely difficult I was to deal with at home and at school.

Growing up I had no dad around and as I grew up and was old enough to realise my little sister had her dad and he always took her out and bought her things and now at 20 I realise that her having it all handed to her hasn’t helped her and by saying she had things bought for her all the time, I do not want to seem like a spoilt brat, but to an 8 year old child seeing there sibling get everything you wanted, was horrible and felt massively unfair. I grew up with stories about my dad how he was always doing drugs and drinking and how I had to use my mums last name instead of the one on my birth certificate incase my dad tried to find me. I grew up in fear of a man who did drugs and drank all the time was gunna just come and take me away. We moved to Bedford when I was 6 and even 2 hours from our previous home and 4 hours from my dad the fear still lived on.

Growing up seeing my sister being treated so nicely by her dad, I never believed my dad could be the man who my mum described, this built up as a kind of anger and resentment towards my mother, this only got worse as I aged and she favoured my little sister over me. It wasn’t just my little sister she favoured, all my siblings in fact came before me and I have 6. ive never had a good bond with any of my family and that’s probably due to not knowing them till I was 5, and the fact they disliked me due to my mum leaving them and going on to have more children.

 

How it affected my behaviour and habits

 

As I grew up, I began to comfort eat, meaning I gained weight and just lost confidence. This has continued until now. Growing up I was also the fat one, literally none of my siblings or my mother bothered with me. Things so bad at around age 12, I started self-harming. I then had my mum’s boyfriend moving into our home which was awful because he constantly belittled me, made me feel like shit and my mum would take his side. it was bad, but only got worse when she married him –  he would tell me that he was putting me in care and I honestly believed my mum would let him, he would call me fat – even sending me horrible texts from a number I didn’t have of his.

None of my family ever really stood by me through my self harm, my sister said I was psycho and another said I needed to be in hospital, my mum tried to bribe me to get me to stop and everyone else just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t really have anyone until I met my fiancé at 15  she’s stood by me through it all, and she’s the one that’s pushed me to go doctors and try and get some professional help.

 

Getting diagnosed

 

It wasn’t until last year I was diagnosed with BPD. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 15 but I always knew it was something more. I hated school and managed to come out with 3 GCSE’s and then attempted to go to college, which after three days I was kicked out because my behaviour was so bad as I couldn’t cope with my feelings so just acted like a knob. I then went into work where I stayed for like 3 months, I did this with all jobs and haven’t been able to stick to anything ever in my life, that was true until…

 

Dreaming big, but could I do it?

Last year late July I decided I was going to go back to college, complete a business level 2. I started on September the 11th and everything went tremendously that first week; I even made a few friends but then the low moods and anxiety kicked in and on the 21st of September I had my first day off and this soon turned into having full weeks of college off. I had meetings regarding my attendance because it very quickly dropped to around 60%. It wasn’t until the last couple of months I’ve really pushed my self and just fought the voices, just telling myself no I am going to pass this course and I can get out of bed today, because I am stronger than my mind.

In all honesty I was completely inspired by the headstrong page, seeing Nicola managing to get up and go gym even though she felt she couldn’t, and seeing how much better it made her feel. So each and every morning I got up out of bed, got dressed and left the house – getting a croissant every morning from Greggs certainly helped. With the help of the page and encouragement from my fiancé I managed to get through the week. Then knowing I had set my goal of the week and college and Nicola has asked me to let her know how it went, I felt even more determined to go above and beyond and with that motivation I completed another week, but not only did I attend every day for 2 weeks I also managed to hand in all my work, even before some had been handed out to the whole class.

I made it!

So now I want to say a big Thank you to Nicola for continuing to motivate me, Thank you to all people that have supported me from the group and gave me words of encouragement. And a silent Thank you to my fiancé.

Thank you all, and remember you are stronger than your mind and more capable than you could ever imagine!

Caitlin, xo

Note by admin … if you would like to join the support group Caitlin talks about you can request to do so here www.facebook.com/groups/headstrong