My view on CAMHS

We can’t wait around for the NHS to magically find a pot of money for help young people with mental issues. We have to take responsibility for ourselves – and whilst that’s scary, it’s 100% possible. 

CAMHS failure

I make no secret of the fact that I was categorically failed by CAMHS. I speak out about this because I am not alone – in fact I’ve never spoken to a young person with mental health problems (eating disorders in particular) who has had a good experience with them. But I’m not going to share my own ‘horror story’ in this article – because that’s not the point here.

Those of us who have ever struggled with mental health below the age of 16 (whether it be Depression, Anxiety or OCD) know that it’s impossible to depend on the NHS – and CAMHS in particular. In the news we’re consistently learning of young people who have been failed time and again by services until they sadly lost their battle with themselves. Like everyone campaigning for better mental health and awareness I am desperate for something to change in the system. But I don’t think that waiting for change is the answer. 

Often we hear about the negative (and devastating) outcomes of CAMHS failure. Usually young people are driven to suicide, or lose their battle with Anorexia. This is so, so sad. But the reason I share my story is that I was one of the lucky ones – and if I pulled through after being failed so badly then that gives hope to anyone else in the same position.

Instead of saying ‘The NHS is shit and left me to die’ and leaving it at that (or dwelling upon the gory details of it) I share a message of hope and positivity. I promote the alternative – which shouldn’t be necessary, but sadly is. The alternative is going it alone – which may sound scary. It may sound impossible – and certainly health professionals and psychologists wouldn’t recommend it. But what are young people desperately in need of help supposed to do when the help they need isn’t there for them to access? Most people can’t afford private therapy – so they depend on the NHS for support. The good news is that you CAN do this yourself.

I can’t speak for every mental health issue. Some almost certainly need professional intervention and medication to be managed effectively. I can only speak from experience about the issues I have personally dealt with over the years – Depression, OCD, Anorexia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. It makes for long reading on my medical notes!

I want to explain that all the mental health diagnoses I’ve listed above had one root cause – my beliefs. I’d formed and impacted my beliefs over time until deep down inside me, subconsciously, I believed I was worthless. Hated. Ugly inside and out. Even though the conditions above aren’t all related, they all came from one root cause.

I started with OCD as a coping mechanism. Then I developed Anorexia. And when I thought I’d got over that I started to struggle with deep Depression and self-harm. Now I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder which I manage well. And I also manage my beliefs. It’s taken time and I’m not perfect (I have panic attacks, I get manic, I struggle, I’m perfectionistic) but I’m okay. I’m not in danger. I love my life – I live my life to the full. I value myself. But the point is that every single one of these had the same root cause – my negative beliefs.

So if this ‘recovery’ is possible for me (read my definition of recovery here) then it’s surely possible for everyone. Although I never had professional support from CAMHS or the NHS I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of my parents throughout this. I set up Tough Cookie to offer support to people who may or may not have people going through this with them. I know how hard it is to face an eating disorder alone – to go through self-harm alone. I understand that being ignored or swatted away by services is devastating because that seems like the only option for survival. But it isn’t. 

One of the biggest things that helped me was getting to know myself. Understanding my beliefs and why I had them. Managing myself – knowing my triggers and dealing with or avoiding them. Although it was hard over time I did get better. I’m not ‘over it’ – I don’t think I ever will be – this is me, this is part of me. But I’m not in danger anymore. And with time you can also live like this.

Please remember on your darkest days that you are not alone. When you think ‘I can’t get through this’ remember that you can – I did! We can all do this. Don’t dwell on the reasons why you can’t. Think about how you can – and why you want to. Focus on your future. Believe that it’s possible.

I had a dream throughout all of this. I wanted to live abroad and be a writer. So many people told me that wasn’t possible. To lower my expectations and set my sights on something ‘realistic’. And at the time I believed I was stupid and didn’t deserve to live – that my life would never be worth living. But now ten years after I was hospitalised with Anorexia I run my own writing business and I’m fulfilling my dream of living abroad. I didn’t have a privileged upbringing – I didn’t go to university. I just stayed determined and persevered with my dream in mind. So never underestimate the power of your dreams – and remember that you are worth fighting for, your life is worth fighting for, and that this is not impossible – however impossible it may seem right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Self-Esteem in 60 Seconds – Beautiful Means Nothing

I’m 24 – but since the age of 11 I’ve struggled to believe that I am ‘beautiful’. This is despite the fact that for half this time people have told me otherwise.

This video is about highlighting how superficial and false ‘beauty’ is. We see ‘beautiful’ people and we want to look like them – for recognition, for confidence, for security. But inside those people don’t always agree with your admiration. Inside they may be unhappy, insecure, depressed. So really, outer beauty has nothing to do with happiness. It’s inner beauty you need! Find out why here:

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Your Inspirational Recovery Stories – How I Overcame Anorexia with Spirituality

EDRECOVERYGRAPHICTRUSSTORIESwithlineThe following story was submitted by an incredible lady from America who would like to remain anonymous. When she contacted me to share her inspirational story I knew I had to share it with all of you here on the blog, as it demonstrates that recovery is possible for all of us, however dark or difficult things become. Her feelings of self-hatred and that all-consuming feeling of worthlessness really resonated with me, and I know a lot of people reading this will feel the same too. I’m not a religious personal at all but I am very spiritual, and it’s so interesting to see that this lady kept her faith even when times were difficult.

I hope this motivates and inspires anyone who feels like there is no way out (THERE IS!!) – and for those of you who are in the later stages of recovery I hope it makes you realise just how far you’ve come 🙂

 

“Learning to love myself unconditionally after a near death experience” – Anonymous

“It is selfish to only think about yourself.”

“You will never amount to anything good in life.”

“What is the purpose of life, to suffer and die?”

These used to be the thoughts I had in my head growing up. I grew up in a not so loving household and have dealt with all kinds of abuse at a young age.

I used to stifle all my feelings as a way to cope with everything. I didn’t realize that in time this manifested into self-hatred and a full blown eating disorder by the time I was 13.

All I saw when I looked at my reflection was someone that is worthless and not worth loving or living. This is what I deserve. I couldn’t see what my purpose was. I didn’t see the reason for living another day.

I had a spiritual near death experience (NDE) when I was 24 years old after battling on and off with anorexia for 11 years.

Near death experience

I had become severely depressed at the time before my NDE. I had gotten into a car accident a year ago and suffered short term memory loss. My neck and back was also under a lot of pain and my left eye would twitch at times.

I was asking God why another setback, another trauma? Family life was unbearable, dealing with school, mom’s chronic illness, dad’s neglect and gambling addiction, and brother’s focus on himself. My sanity and patience started to dwindle.

My moods were up and down. The only way I knew how to cope with all the stresses in my life was through starving myself. I began to eat less and less and los t a lot of weight. My stomach was always in pain and I had no energy to do anything. I was very fatigued and hanging on by a thread.

I began to see many doctors: a cardiologist that diagnosed me with heart arrhythmia, a gastroenterologist that only diagnosed me with IBS, a psychologist that diagnosed me with depression but all the medicines they gave me seem to make me feel worse.

As the days go by, my will to live began to fade. What’s the point of living if I were to continue to suffer like this, haven’t I been through enough?

The night of my NDE, my heart palpitations were getting worse but I just brushed it off as another symptom. I had no appetite and my vision became blurry. I cried for a few hours and collapsed on my bed.

Laying on my bed, I asked in my head ‘Why am I suffering so much, how is there a creator, a benign God that would allow all this to happen to me?’ I closed my eyes with tears on my face, but when I started to fell asleep, I felt like my breathing was slowing down and I began to gasp for air after asking that question.

What happened next was the strangest feeling. I saw myself, my soul, lift out of my navel/belly button. I was looking down at my own body and I was perplexed. I went what the heck, I can still exist out of my body? My essence traveled through an umbilical cord/tunnel that was white and grayish with wave like patterns. I was so distraught, I didn’t know what to do.

Was I dying? My spirit was traveling super fast like the speed of light. On my way to this never-ending tunnel, I yelled at God to save me. I was so scared that I yelled out at God to help me. I was desperate because I didn’t know where I was heading. I said I would miss my family and my two cats.

Healing

The tunnel then reached to this luminous white dome-shaped room that didn’t blind my eyes. But before I could go further, my spirit quickly traveled back down the tunnel and fell back into my body. When I woke up I felt instantly refreshed. I had a sense of peace and happiness than I ever felt in my life.

I also had healing from my anorexia. I had a lot more appetite and gained weight. I had more energy and was genuinely grateful and happy. Things that used to bother me did not bother me anymore.

I have more compassion and tolerance to everyone. I used to be judgmental and materialistic. Now I don’t buy as much and like to help others more. I felt as if we are all ONE.

If I’m in pain the other person absorbs my pain, If I’m love, the other person receives my love. I began to be more spiritual, more praying and meditation. I felt connected with source energy and felt protection and love for me.

What I know now is that we should love each other and everyone’s flaws, we are all here to learn, to make mistakes, to grow. We should serve humanity, be less selfish and self absorbed, and do more acts of kindness without asking anything in return.
What I have learned

Growing up I didn’t understand what love really is. It seems that love meant giving up on yourself to take care of everyone else.

Now I realized that almost everyone we come across is a wounded child at heart. And that in order for us to change our reality we must heal our internal wounds that has been there since childhood.

What if I told you the most i mportant thing you can do in life is to fully love yourself, imperfections and all.

And that it is not possible to love another unless we take care of ourselves.

I’m sure most of us who have battled an eating disorder know how hard it is to find hope in midst of struggling to survive.

But I’m here to tell you that it is possible and that brighter days are ahead of you. All it takes is that first step.

Music was really healing for me. Here are some songs that helped me through my experience:

 

 

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Self-Esteem in 60 Seconds – There’s More Than One Type of Beauty

It’s fair to say we’re constantly sold one idea of beauty by society. But it’s also fair to say that this image changes depending on where we live, and who we hang out with! Therefore how can you not be beautiful??

Someone, somewhere wants what you’ve got. You may not know it, but somewhere in the world you are considered to be particularly beautiful. Just because the world you live in worships other types of beauty or doesn’t see your worth, doesn’t mean you’re not pretty or worth love! This video is all about remembering that you ARE beautiful – no matter what.

 

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