Wednesday 29 May 2019

In Bloom Not Broken

By Katie Maylea

I have suffered with mental illness for much of my life starting with self-harm and depression at fourteen years old. I didn’t understand it then or realise there was even a name for what I was doing. I battled this alone for a long time and in my 20s this developed into anorexia and a long battle to get well.

Much later down the line I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but this wasn’t until many years later and after a long fight for the correct treatment.

Over the years I struggled to function and while I may have felt better for a short period of time it never lasted and the anorexia once again crippled me and ruled my life. I had three inpatient admissions for anorexia as well as attending a daycare programme and outpatient care in between, but it took me a long time to get well. Anorexia is very misunderstood and often thought to be much about food but it is a lot more complex than that. Getting to the reasons behind the eating disorder is crucial but also extremely difficult.

Once I had mostly overcome anorexia after a number of years my moods were still chaotic. I would be on top of the world or barely able to get out of bed, I never kept a job for longer than twelve months as they always came crashing down. I couldn’t truly function as I never truly knew where I stood with myself or within my own mind.

I unfortunately had some terrible treatment over the years of battling with my general mental health. I was once told by a consultant psychiatrist on an inpatient ward that “self-harm was child’s play.” By a different outpatient psychiatrist I was told my problem was that my life was “boring, empty and pointless.” That was after planning to end my own life and presenting him with a private psychiatric assessment report with a diagnosis of bipolar that I paid for because I felt I wasn’t getting any help.

It was at this point that I dropped out of NHS services for four years.

I went on to battle my mental health and had a further three hospital admissions; one NHS and two private as my partner at that time had medical insurance. I was lucky enough on the final admission in 2016 to be admitted to a private hospital in London where I finally found an amazing psychiatrist who straight away told me after a manic episode with psychotic features that descended into a huge depression that there was no question that I had Bipolar Disorder. She switched my medication to lithium and an antipsychotic and for the first time ever I felt things start to change.

All it took in hindsight for my life to be turned around was a doctor that listened and really did her best to treat me.

This is why I am now so passionate about raising awareness on mental health and the related treatment to show that mental illness is not a life sentence, that it is possible to go from wanting to end your own life to feeling like you have one if you get the right help and just give yourself time. Even if it feels impossible it is possible for things to change.

I now campaign for awareness on mental health issues. I am training to be a counsellor. I volunteer for SHOUT which is a mental health crisis text line. I have a website where I blog, vlog and send “Happy Post” to those struggling with their mental health free to make people feel a little less alone. I have an ETSY shop where I make and sell a lot of mental health related items. I feel confident enough to share my story and have spoken openly to various media about mental illness and experiences and hope to build on this.

I have recently published my book In Bloom Not Broken. It is my story, my journey through mental illness that I wanted to be very real, raw and honest with no airs and graces that really gave insight to mental illness from inside the mind of someone struggling, while offering hope to others that things really can get better. It includes diary excerpts from the time of struggling with depression, anorexia and psychosis. It highlights my experiences and thoughts on the treatment system and where I feel things need to be improved. I feel this is really important to raise awareness on, and it is a topic that I feel people feel a little scared to be honest about so I wanted to write a book that people could relate to.

I just want anyone out there who is struggling to know that even if it feels impossible right now things really can get better.

Give yourself time, you deserve that.

About the Author

Katie Maylea is a mental health campaigner, author and ETSY shop owner passionate about raising awareness on mental health.

You can find her on her website, Facebook (InBloomNotBroken), Twitter (@KatieMaylea85), and ETSY.

In Bloom Not Broken is available on Amazon in print and for Kindle (COM | UK).


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