I’ve suffered from mental illness for years but I’ve always bottled things up.
There’s always been a lot going on at home. My dad left when I was 2. It’s certainly not been easy growing up without a dad.
My brother suffers from autism and he’s gone through really tough times. My mum has always been there for me but obviously, she had to give my brother extra support and attention.
I wanted to be strong for my family and I supported my mum as much as possible. I didn’t want to lose the family I had left, so I put a brave face on and acted as if I was okay – I really wasn’t.
All of this was having a huge impact on my mental health. I was extremely anxious and isolated. I really struggled to engage with others at school.
Things began to change when I started going to the YMCA. The YMCA helped me realise that it’s ok not to feel ok. They gave me a lot of support and, for the first time, I felt like I belonged. I was exactly where I needed to be.
I’ve recently found a friend with who I feel comfortable sharing how I feel. The best advice I can give to anyone struggling with mental health issues is to open up. You can get through this and there are people who want to help. But they can’t help you if you keep it all inside.
I know that it can be hard but together we have the strength to get through anything life throws at us – because #IAMWHOLE #WEAREWHOLE