My Journey with Anxiety, OCD and Depression
Rhys struggled with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts
With support, he came to understand the thinking traps holding him back
If you are struggling, find a therapist here
A beginning is hard to find when you don’t exactly know where the start was, and with mental health puzzles seeming to come out of the blue, it can become quite the challenge to figure out where it all started to go to wrong.
As a naturally sensitive individual, I have always found myself to be cut by even the bluntest of blades. I seem to have been deeply touched by almost every experience life has presented me with.
At a young age, I became aware of how my brain seemed to be processing and operating slightly differently compared to everybody else. It wasn't until, after two years at college studying animal care, that I started to realise I had a serious mental health problem. I no longer wanted to live.
Factoring in mild bullying at school after coming out as gay, my dad going to prison, infused with my natural sensitivity, I was suffering mentally. I had the job of dreams running my own company, the most beautiful friends that I considered family, and a rebalanced home life, but my mind could no longer grip onto reasons to stay alive. At that time, it was as though I went from enjoying life to wanting out overnight.
A blend of anxiety, OCD, and depression, had slowly taken over my mind to a point, at around 18-years-old, where I became so imprisoned by fearful thoughts that the only escape I saw possible was death. The less value life has, the more you can play with it in a dangerous way. I was unfortunately starting to see life as meaningless and my behaviour was simply reflecting that belief.
It was during this time that I attempted to kill myself multiple times, got mugged, arrested and even jumped out of a moving car. I transformed into a slightly reckless individual that had no respect for the body I was held "captive" in.
Doctors struggled to offer the care I needed as I always refused medication. At this point in time, I wasn’t actively looking for help outside of the NHS system. I knew there was another way, but I knew it was going to have to be an unconventional way.
The holistic approach fell on my lap when I discovered Reiki. I had Reiki over a two year period. The practitioner, whom I have so much gratitude towards, played a vital role in helping me bring unconscious behaviour into my awareness and help me heal myself. I honestly believe that in some of those sessions I released emotions I didn't even know I was holding. The fear was pouring out of me like an uncontrollable bleed. For me, Reiki helped immensely, and for others different support will have the same effect. Here are some of the things that Reiki helped me uncover, which you may also uncover with the right support.
For me, I learnt that as a child I had started to recognise how unpleasant it felt to be told off, so I tried to make sure I was never to be told off again. (This didn't seem to apply at school though, I was always getting told off)
When I was growing up, if I were to be told off, I would start to alter my behaviour to prevent being told off again. I was thinking my way around making mistakes and ultimately giving birth to an anxious brain that believed it could become perfect. I would think of all the possible worse outcomes and how I could ensure that they wouldn't happen to me. I adopted this mindset of thought being my saviour from danger. Baring in mind here, that I saw danger in anything that was not perfect, which is pretty much everything.
Although in ways thought was protecting me, it was also making my inner world an unpleasant place to be. I was criticising every expression I made and slowly drawing further and further inward. I just found it so much easier to stay away from people. Being alone wouldn't trigger this inner voice off, telling me how I should have said this, or I shouldn't have said that etc.
To think your way out of mistakes is a tiring process and a process that will always fail. When a mistake fell at my feet, I didn't know what to do. I had left no room to make mistakes because I had associated mistakes to negative repercussions, failure and even rejection. This is where depression came in to hide me away until the mistake I made was buried in the past. I would come out again when I felt it was safe to do so.
I was swinging between months of over-thinking and feelings of anxiety, thinking that this way of being, was the only way to remain safe. And then when anxiety failed me, I would run into depression and hide. This process going on in my brain led me to eventual rationalise suicide as an option. I was mentally tired. I became so fearful of making mistakes, to the point where, when I did make a mistake, I would try to kill myself.
My story is a story that is forever changing, and although the fundamental pillars remain firmly in the structure of my past, the way in which I tell the story is altering as I heal and build on top of rock bottom.
Moving from a victim's perspective to a challenger's mindset, I have managed to change the way I question life, from, why is this happening to me? To, what can I do to change this? Or better yet, what is this teaching me? I have managed to change the way in which I tell my story.
I reject the term “mental health problems” and change it to “mental health puzzles”. Why? Because a puzzle is there to be worked out, and once more pieces start to come together you can begin to see a clearer picture. I see it as though experiences in my life that I hadn't dealt with, took a piece of me away and distorted my view, and it wasn't until I started to get those pieces back, that I could see the true reflection of myself. It turns out, I actually really like the person I am now I can see clearly, and I would most definitely not want to put an end to me. This is just the beginning.