Like many people, I never considered myself as having an illness; I guess I just looked at myself as being a bad person. I would have never believed how ill I was. Even now it is hard to understand.

From an early age I felt there was something different about me. Aside from school I had few friends and spent a lot of my childhood on my own.

When puberty hit and the hormones really started their work, girls soon became an object of desire. I would fall in love in an instant and handled rejection badly. It was not just my love life that was affected, any job that I had I attacked with a passion. I would start everything with maniacal passion, this passion would peak and just when I reached a point where everything was going right, I would start to self-destruct.

Self-destruction led to many a phone call to the Samaritans, who probably saved my life on a few occasions. Suicide was attempted twice, both times by pills and drink. I would drink to excess, took drugs to excess, anything to take my mind off the fact my life was in pieces.

This cycle of maniacal passion through to complete destruction continued until the birth of my daughter. Her arrival gave me the complete attraction I had always sought. She was mine, nothing could ever change that. So for the next few years the cycle lessened, though changing jobs continued. I know now that the problem had not gone away. In fact, it was building up inside me.

One day I thought I was having a heart attack. After the trip to A&E, I went to see my GP who prescribed me anti-depressants for anxiety and depression. The side effects coupled with my growing stress soon started to crack me. One day, I accidentally scratched myself and felt pain. I  had felt nothing but numbness for weeks, so the pain was a relief. By the next day I had to wear long sleeves to hide the deep scratches I had inflicted on my arms. The following night, the plan to kill myself had been planned in detail. I had reached the end.

The one caveat that I made with myself was that I would go see my GP again. Thankfully, my GP is excellent and I was treated at a psychiatric hospital. I finally felt safe, safe from myself. Those five days spent on the ward changed me forever. I started to accept I was ill.

I soon found myself looking into mental health myself. As it stands now, I have completed my classroom work for my diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy, I have started my degree in Psychology and Counselling with the OU. I am also studying for my level 3 counselling and level 4 CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). My ambition is to help as many people as I can who suffer. I know now I am not alone, and as long as there are people out there who need help I will try my best to help.

The greatest stigma I have found with mental illness is that I held within myself, but I will hide no more and I hope to encourage others to do likewise.

I am not my illness. I am just a person who has an illness, one I carry every day.