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The Observer


I have experienced mental illness through the role of an observer. Two years ago, my brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sectioned. The trauma contained in that sentence has been numbed by time, but it hasn’t gone anywhere: I see it when my mum tenses her neck after arriving home from work, and I feel it everywhere in rare ‘family’ moments, when I find myself sitting with my mum and sister at the kitchen table. Once tragedy strikes a family, it can’t be unknown. Each of us has reshaped the memories of J’s illness and folded it into the patterns of our daily lives.

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My CBT Diary: Week 4

medication for depression and anxiety, side-effects

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I had a busy end of term and also, well, I haven’t had anything to write about. The thing is that I am really quite happy. I haven’t had a panic attack in months, I’m no longer on medication, I haven’t even been following my CBT book and I’m…fine. I’m better than fine: I’m well. As in the final word of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows kind of well. I wouldn’t say that I’m cured just yet – six years’ of illness doesn’t go away overnight – but things are definitely on the up.

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A stab in the dark

anorexia, bullimia, PTSD, self-harm, attempted suicide, rape

“It is a huge step for me to even admit that PTSD is a part of me in some form. I really believe that one day, I will release these memories and when I do, I will be able to untie myself from the disordered behaviour that has both protected and harmed me for so long.”

There have been two occasions in my life that stand out to me as moments when I have felt completely powerless.

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Small Steps' Challenge 4: Functioning properly

depression, mention of self-harm

This week, SmallSteps writes about the difficulties of intermission and everyday ways of relieving stress and tension. To see last week’s challenge, you can click here.

Most things have felt a struggle these past few days. Having decided to intermit (which means taking a year out of university) with the full support of my college and GP, I’m currently searching for full-time jobs so that I can continue living in Cambridge. It’s a long story, but it would affect my health negatively if I were to go back home. My goal is to have two jobs: one full-time and one part-time on the weekends and in evenings. And yes, I feel like an absolute failure for intermitting. I’ll probably talk about this idea in the weeks to come.

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The bully inside of me


I think OCD is probably one of the least understood mental health problems. It seems to have become almost a synonym for being a neat freak or, at the more extreme end, it draws up supposedly laughable images of people turning a light switch on and off 20 times before they leave a room due to some dramatic conviction. For me, however, OCD is best depicted as a bully: a very real menacing voice inside of my head that seeks to continually test me until I snap. I’ve always had slight obsessive tendencies, but last year things got a lot more sinister and my OCD began to dominate my life.

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OCD, negative experience with therapy

Today I am frustrated,

I don’t want to be told that the reason I have to wash my hands again and again,

Is down to my lacking in a mother hen,

That the reason I don’t like touching certain stuff,

Is because of some situation in my past that must have been really tough.

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SmallSteps' Challenge 3: Going to a party!

Each week, SmallSteps is given a challenge that addresses an aspect of her mental health. To see her previous challenge, you can click here.

Yo yo YO, wazzup?

So I realised that the last post I did was really sad. I was quite sad, I’m not gonna lie. I then proceeded to write another post about the date I went on but because the person it involved FUCKING WORKED OUT WHO I AM I’ve had to pull it. In short, it went well but I ended things cos I’m not well. He knows all that and is still messaging me and being supportive which is quite heartbreaking, but other positive things have happened since then. For instance - I WENT TO A PARTY!

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I want to write about the story of my depression, but the truth is, there is no story.


I want to write about the story of my depression, but the truth is, there is no story. It’s just a huge black box that surrounds my life, encasing me during everyday situations, good or bad.

For me there is no emotional trigger, there is no sign that I may or may not be depressed in 2 hours’ time, it just hits me like a brick wall and it’s heart breaking every time.

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Smoke Signals

panic attacks, anxiety

The additional downside to anxiety, shyness

and introversion, is that you can get unobservant.

I talked to my parents and

something emerged in

the conversation I hadn’t been aware of. Since

I hadn’t noticed halfway through 2003

that one of them had taken a half-year

off-work hiatus to stop short

the mechanical breakdown spluttering

out of him with the hyperventilation of a petrol engine:

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"Stop Being Silly"

disordered eating, self-induced vomiting

I’m not sure if my behaviour fit the strict symptomology of an eating disorder in the ICD (the manual used to assess and diagnose psychological disorders). But I did experience disordered eating, which most certainly brought maladaptiveness and suffering into my life – the two textbook words married to mental illness.

In sharing my experience, I am attempting to increase understanding of seemingly illogical behaviour. I also aim to make people aware of how frustrating and down-right wrong they can be when responding to someone whose mental health, for a time, isn’t very healthy.

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My CBT Diary: Week 3

anger management, anxiety

This week, my boyfriend told me that he thinks I have anger management problems. “I don’t want you to go out there hating the world,” he said, “because it doesn’t hate you.” He thinks my problems stem from my anxiety, which makes sense, I suppose, since when I am anxious I get angry at the things that make me feel that way. When I learnt to drive (unsuccessfully, I might add) I used to get terrible road rage because I was terrified of crashing. Now, I regularly get into states where I either want to cry or scream, and in my head screaming hides my vulnerability.

His comment got me thinking about whether or not I do hate the world.

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SmallSteps’ Challenge 2: Life-drawing

negative body-image, self-harm

Each week, SmallSteps is given a challenge that addresses an aspect of her mental health. To see her first article, published with The Tab Cambridge, click here.

I realised I was not beautiful aged 6, when at my all-girls’ school. We changed into pristine white, starched shorts and flannel t-shirts. I looked down at my thighs, bulging out like fat, pink sausages, and then at the slim little-girl legs of the petite blonde and brunette girls, running about unawares.

I realised I was not beautiful age 10, when we had our measurements taken in front of the class. As the tallest by about a head, I was an inevitable source of fascination, especially when compared to the smallest. She was four stone something; I was nearly seven.

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