From a young age I always struggled with my moods. People would have probably described
me as quite an angry or emotional child as I really struggled with dealing with my emotions.
It's only really now that I’ve been put on anti-depressants as I guess with being a young
adult maybe doctors take you a bit more seriously…
I had on and off counselling when I was younger, but I always felt that they were focusing on
the wrong things and so I didn't really open up. I feel that I have now begun to be more
open (with my mental health). I did a Psychology degree and got a bit of a basis. It (my
degree) wasn't massively clinical but I also did a placement year with CAMHS which is the
children and young people’s mental health service, and that gave me a bit more of an
insight too. Also, being in a team and working with counsellors and therapists opens your
eyes to the fact that there are different sorts of therapists and counselling.
For example; CBT- Cognitive Behavioural therapy. For some it can work and really help. You
take your problem and you work out a way around it in a very logical way.
In my final year of Uni, I had counselling with a charity who offered 11 weeks of free
therapy. I think it was called Number 5 (No. 5 – based in Reading). There's definitely a lot of
other charities in other localities that offer that service too.
I think there needs to be a happy medium because the CBT, for me, I felt was almost too
structured. It didn't allow for when you want to talk about something [else that had
happened that week for example] but at the same time you don't want to be given the
freedom to just talk about whatever. Some people try therapy once and say that they didn't
like it [and don’t return] but there are many issues with that. You have to get on with your
therapist, you have to like what they are doing, you have to develop that relationship and it
takes time. And there are [many] different types of therapy [that you could try].
I will look into more Psychotherapy techniques or Systemic therapy - systemic therapy being
therapy that focuses on [the] relationships [or systems, around you]. You can get these
privately or within CAMHS they do [sometimes] offer [for] specific cases, family therapy.
Childhood and youth mental health:
I think when I was younger [my] family dynamics changed [a fair bit]. I changed Primary
schools, from reception to Year 1 which was really disruptive. I remember having
counselling from [a] fairly young [age]. I definitely had some in-school counselling. I was at
[my first secondary] school for a term and then changed schools. I had counselling with a
male counsellor [at the first school]. [The idea of a male counsellor is quite novel as] it's
almost as if you don't expect it [but] it [can] offer a different perspective. But since then, I
haven't really come across any other male counsellors.
I think the [level of mental health] support in schools [varies] school to school. The
counselling I went to in my first secondary school was 1-1, in a nice office, it felt secure and
professional in a comfortable way. In the secondary school I went to for the rest of my time
the support was [more general]. [They has a team who] dealt with people who struggled
with other things like with their behaviour, with attendance and then also people who
struggled with their mental health. Obviously, the person who is [worked in that system]
wouldn't be specialised in all of those areas. So, I felt, for me, it wasn't enough.
As a child, my ‘depression’ just came out more as outbursts, as you grow older and you gain
more emotional intelligence and you realise what you can and can't do. As a child it came
out more as anger and was quite explosive. To be fair, there is a similar amount of
tearfulness from now and then (but as a child you don't hide it as much).
It's much harder as a child to explain how you are feeling with words. You feel all the
feelings, but you are so angry and upset you can't [explain] it. The thing is to take some
time, have a little notebook and write, whatever you can think of - that's in your head, in the
notebook. I also used to write things down, put it in a little shoe box and then give it
to my parents. Then they can try and understand. They can read it separately (without you)
or you can go through it together. I think that's a way to be able to get it across in some
Depression and Depressive Episodes:
My understanding of a depressive episode is that it is a shorter-term thing. You don't
necessarily have to have depression, but you are going through a period of time where you
are constantly low, you don't have the energy to do things and you don't enjoy things.
There's that whole metaphor of feeling that black cloud over you. I think you sort of get to
know when it’s coming, you get to know your own behaviours. To be fair, for me, I haven't
yet figured out how I best cope during an episode. I probably get worse before I get better.
It (a depressive episode) usually comes when I've got too many things that I've taken on, I'm
overworked and overloaded and I haven't thought through my general emotions.
Depression, in my experience and opinion of it, is not being able to feel the strong positive
emotions because it has taken over that. It doesn't mean you can't have a laugh, it's just
that smaller [worries and problems] take over more. You need more support around you. It
helps [me] to have some sort of routine.
There's a really good book called 'The Black Dog', it’s a really simple metaphorical book but
it's really powerful.
This is another illustrative book that is quite good for people with depression:
I haven't taken medication for very long. With me, because I'm in early stages, I'm still trying
to figure out what works.
I think for someone helping to support someone with depression the best thing is telling
them you are there for them but know you can't fix it for them. Checking in on them. For
example, my younger brother and sister will pop in and make me a cup of tea. The big thing
with depression is there isn't necessarily - a why. It [can be] difficult to talk, but you can tell
them if they don't want to talk face-to-face text it to you. Sometimes having a code is a good
idea, like if you text ‘red’ that means you're feeling really shit and you need support. You
can have a white board on the fridge or [arrange] the magnets in a certain order to show
you are having a good day or a bad day. It's establishing what you could do when things get
What these quotes mean to me:
'Just for the record darling not all positive change feels positive at the beginning'
By S.C. Lourie
Change is hard. Whatever type of change it is, it's going to come with struggle but that
doesn't mean that it's bad. If you keep persevering, that change can lead to some really
'Don't set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm'
From Beard in Mind (Winston Brothers Series) by Penny Reid
This is about the whole idea of putting other people before you, which is nice, but I think
sometimes you have to realise when you're doing it to the detriment of your own wellbeing.
'Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it may be the right ones'
By John Lennon
A life lesson! I always think, whatever the situation, it's always best to be yourself, be honest
and say what you think. This is something my mum has always instilled in me.
'I'm not everything I want to be, but I'm more then I was and I'm still learning'
Everything Changed When I Forgave Myself, Page 84 by Charlotte Eriksson
This is about growth. It's always good to stop and say yes maybe I'm not the perfect version
of me, but you have to look back and see how far you've come. I think sometimes it’s
difficult to see that change because you are always with you.
'We are made to be great, made to start a fire'
From the full quote:
“We are made to be great, made to start a fire, made to drink wine, made to sing a song,
made to cry,
laugh and maybe cry some more, made to fall in love , made to have sex, made to be
straight, gay, or whoever we want”
“For you are beautiful and I am too, make sure you find people, who see you for you”
Made to be Great by Janell Jay Roberts
I think this is about the fact that you don't need to be in the background. Be who you are,
express what you think, let it rip. If you express what you're feeling it will be passionate, it
will be strong, but we are made to be like that.
[Blog post has been Para-phrased and checked by Freya after the interview took place]
LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST ON SPOTIFY:
If you feel that you are experiencing any of what Freya has spoken about please seek help from your nearest GP. There are also other sources which provide help and advice for example:
Mind 0300 123 3011
Rethink 0300 5000 927
Support Line 01708 765200
Also if you feel that you have an experience with regards to mental health that you believe others could relate to then please get in touch.