NAME: Valerie Mattes
OCCUPATION: College Student*
“I can’t remember exactly when it started, but since primary school age I always felt different to all the other children. I felt I asked myself questions I don’t think other children would have asked themselves at that age. Looking back now I can see how I always had a tendency to experience poor mental health.
My early childhood wasn’t exactly easy either however my first noticeable low point suffering with depression was when I was 11 my dad (who I was VERY close and attached to) left to work in another country abroad he would only come back every few month for a week or two and I was left to stay with my mother who I didn’t feel exactly close to. It all happened so suddenly and I felt I couldn’t talk to her or anyone else about what I was going through. Little did I know this was the beginning of my journey with depression. The worst part was when my dad did come home to visit though I would literally be in tears 24/7 from when he came all the way through till he left. I remember walking home from school crying and listening to sad music full well knowing that when I got home he wouldn’t be there anymore. This went on for a year until I moved schools to a private school in which I started to experience bullying I was called fat, mongo, a cow wearing make up my nick name would be ‘whalerie’. Everyone knew but no one would speak out and my dad was still gone. There were many aggressive arguments with my mum about school and some in which the police even had to be called. This year was by far one if not the worst year of my life. However, things did brighten up when my dad agreed to return when I was 13. Things got easier and I was just trying to get through life smoothly.
Not long before my 15th birthday I became known to social services due to risky relationships and behaviours involving men. Older men. They started digging through my past and brought up everything all the shit that happened throughout my life and I broke down. My self-harm escalated and I became increasingly suicidal I was going in and out of hospital for several months until the 23rd of September 2015 when I was admitted to my first psychiatric hospital under S2 (Section 2) of the MHA (Mental Health Act). My admission was only meant to last roughly from a week to a month longest but it ended up lasting close to a year. I went through a rocky 3 month but in late January I lapsed badly. Things became worse from day to day I was becoming increasingly impulsive and given the diagnoses Emerging borderline personality disorder. I was putting my life at risk from a weekly and then even day to day basis. I constantly ended up on medical wards and A&E departments. All my leave was taken I was moved to a HDU ward and put on S3 of the MHA supervised at all times. It was only in May 2016 when the unit prepared to close temporarily and I was the last patient up for transfer. Unfortunately, they could not find any open unit willing to accept me due to my mental state.
This is when I finally realised how much of my life I was missing out, what other people my age were possibly doing whist I was slowly rotting away. how long it had been since I last left even the hospital grounds. I realised I didn’t want to live such a life anymore. With the intensive support of staff and medication I was finally willing to put myself into recovery and finally accepted into a private unit in Kent. I spent another awfully hard yet lovely 3-4 month there until I was finally discharged home in early September 2016. I’m still struggling but battling my mental health and have accepted it won’t go away overnight.
I decided to take part in this to help end the stigma around mental health. It can hit literally anyone and is just as important taking care of as one’s physical health. Whatever you may be going through you are not alone and recovery is possible no matter how hard it may seem. “
Inspired by Valerie’s story? Leave a comment below!
*Correct at time of submission.