Beth has suffered from depression and eating disorders since she was 14. She stayed in the McGuinness Unit for six months.
Just take a few seconds to picture this in your mind; you’re standing inside a tall dark room and no matter how hard you try you just can’t get the lights to switch on. You see figures but all you can think of is that they are going to hurt you, leave you or just reject you. Instead of getting to know these figures and coming up with a plan to get out of the black hole, you just push them away in fear of them getting to know the real you. Just imagine putting up with that for months… even years. Well this is similar to what depression can feel like; it’s a long lonely battle. This is why many people keep quiet about their mental health issues because of the fear they might get judged, it’s not a physical health problem that you can see but it doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
Life in the unit
My stay at the McGuiness Unit was very long and hard; I find it hard recording the first few weeks/months, that’s just because of how bad my depression had got. Some days it was like a never ending nightmare that I couldn’t awake from, whereas others I have kept as memories. During my hospitalisation I made some great friends… all still ordinary people like myself that have just reached a little blip in their lives. Soon enough friends become family in a closed environment, there would always be somebody there to talk to and confide in when you don’t want to talk to staff. However there is one goal which everybody strives for and that is to be discharged. I saw some patients come and go within a week, whereas others were in there the whole 6 months I was, these are the people I miss the most.
Since leaving the unit on April 2nd I have tried to get back to normality. I have gone back to dance, which just recently I won the British isle championships. Dance means a lot to me, I’ve done it since being tiny and when I first got ill with my eating disorder I had to give it up because my body just couldn’t cope with the stresses I was putting it under. This is my biggest achievement of all; being able to dance again. I have missed too much college to be able to go back this year but my plans are to return and finish my second year in September, then off to university I go. Other than that, and the holiday I am going on with my friends. I don’t really have many plans for the future except for keeping myself well.
The stigma around mental health is terrible, the words ‘mental health’ does not mean ‘crazy’, one in four people suffer from a mental health illness, that means somebody in your family, your next door neighbour or even a best friend could be suffering. It is important that they seek help as many people can lose their lives through mental illnesses; I know I nearly did, and this is why I want to spread the awareness and stop this disease from damaging any more people. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness… it’s not a laughing joke now is it? Just because somebody isn’t walking around with a cast on their leg, doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. Mental illnesses are far more complex and severe than just a broken leg.
Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.