My name is Amy and I’ve been suffering with severe anxiety and depression for around three years now. Alongside the medication and counselling, my family and friends have helped me immensely.

From the very beginning, my Mum has been there. From arranging appointments and taking me to the doctors to being with me for the sessions, driving me to school every day and sitting outside the gates for hours - and even offering to go into school with me. She has done everything possible to make my mental health journey just that little bit easier and I can’t thank her enough. She is the main person that has helped me through this all, and without her I don’t know where I’d be.

My Auntie, who has suffered with depression for the majority of her life, offered her words of wisdom and understood. Likewise for my Grandma, who suffers from the same. Her voice is forever ringing in my ears: ‘there’s nothing to be ashamed of.’ Having someone who understands you during a difficult time is such a relief. You know you’re not alone. It provided me with the hope that perhaps I could get through things one day.

"If anything, going through this mental health journey has made existing relationships in my life stronger and even helped me to form new ones."

This isn’t to say that it hasn’t been difficult. Although my family relationships are closer than ever, we haven’t always seen eye to eye with my illness. The last thing that anyone wants to see is another family member suffering, and sometimes that can take its toll and cause others emotional distress. Looking after someone who is ill every hour of the day is also draining and that can put a strain on things. However, giving the situation some breathing time - sitting back down a few days or even hours later and explaining things to each other definitely helps. At the end of the day, my family relationships are based on love. I know they want to do what’s best for me.

During the whole process, I also found out who my real friends were. Although I found it difficult to tell my story, the majority of my friends were really supportive. However, there were some who weren’t as helpful and often had something to say about my absence from school - or just my mental health issues in general. I tended to brush it off and understand that this wasn’t my fault. I also found that, even with the people making comments, talking openly about my mental health and explaining things properly seemed to help.

Due to my mental health issues, I spent a lot of time away from school. At certain points, it looked like I might have to leave school because they weren’t going to accommodate me. Admittedly, it was my mum again who did a lot of the work - phoning the school and explaining everything.

"Due to my mental health issues, I spent a lot of time away from school."

To my surprise, the teachers at my school were a big part of my recovery. I’ll never forget what they did for me. Without them, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it to university - and that’s more than medication can be held accountable for! Their support proved to me just how important having people around who are willing to help is.

If anything, going through this mental health journey has made existing relationships in my life stronger and even helped me to form new ones. It’s also been really good to become friends with people who’ve experienced similar things. I’ve found that, by sharing what we’ve been through, we’ve been able to help each other.

Suffering with mental health issues alone is a very dark and scary place. It can become all-consuming to the point that you just don’t know how to cope anymore. However, I feel extremely lucky that the people around me have been so supportive and that I’ve been able to share my problems with them. It has allowed me to develop and move away from the hell that I once experienced. It hasn’t been easy - and I feel that pain has often been shared, but the strength and positive things that have come out of it all - that’s what’s most important. It’s because of these that I’m now finally recovering.

Amy also runs her own blog: Relief From Anxiety.

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