My Mental Health Story – Mental Health Awareness Week

This post was written in 2017, but its an important one to share for Mental Health Awareness Week. The more we can share our mental health stories with honesty and vulnerability the better. Here is my mental health story.

My story for Mental Health Awareness Week


Losing my Parents Irreversibly affected my Mental Health

I lost my mum at 16 and dad at 19, this resulted in a huge shift in what made me me. My stability and security was gone, my home, my roots, my financial support was all gone. My late teens were filled with mental health issues that I can only recognise years later. I didn’t have any help or counselling after my mum died. It was 1993, these kinds of things didn’t exist, or if they did I wasn’t told about them. I was just expected to get back on with normal life but I WAS 16 and motherless.

I became angry, would self-destruct and I chose alcohol as my drug of choice; binge drinking has always been a coping mechanism, until memory loss for most of my adult life. I chose food and have been a binge eater again for most of my adult life. Eating and drinking clean in 2016 changed this pattern.

I also developed a coping mechanism of running away. When I hit 18, I ran as far as I could from my home town of Penzance, Cornwall. I moved 320 miles away to university in London as I had got myself into too many horrid situations following the death of mum to stay in Penzance. I ran, never to return. Start a new life and forget the past.

My story for Mental Health Awareness Week

Then my dad died

Then my dad died at the end of my first year at university. Had I brought this upon myself, had I over thought about my mum dying, worrying about my dad and then he died? Much of university was self-destruct mode. I slept around, I drank too much and experimented with things that are not good for you. They were wild years where all I was trying to do was forget that my parents had died. And that I was the only person (so it felt) in the universe whom this had happened to.

At one point at university a close friend shouted at me to get a grip, ‘Lynn you are a bitch’ I remember her saying (thank you Julie). There was a very low point where I remember sitting on my second floor flat and thought what would happen if I jumped. I talked and cried to my personal tutor who recommended counselling. I spent a year talking to a university counsellor about my feelings and depression about my parent’s deaths. It took four years and the death of two parents to get the help I needed.

My Career was impacted positively and negatively

As life progressed my mental health issues changed. My career was an interesting one. I had good academic results (how I got the grades with everything going on I do not know) academically and confident so landed a great graduate job and subsequent career. I would start a job all motivated and enthusiastic. But it would wane and I would get bored, changing roles many times.

Most companies were cool with this as when I was on form I was brilliant. I made huge changes and made all the companies I worked for lots of money! I worked for Tesco for 5 years during my 20’s, I moved roles three times in those five years. When I lost the plot at work, a caring boss took me under her wing and organised life coaching for me, all paid for by Tesco (thank you Jo).

Whenever things got tough I would run from a company. My last role at Tesco was an amazing job but I had some HR issues with a person in my team. He resigned but then tried to raise a tribunal against me for constructive dismissal. His efforts failed, but it rocked me. I couldn’t hack it at Tesco anymore so I left, on good terms, with an agreement. But I ran. Just like running from Penzance to London for university.

When I left Tesco part of my leaving package was that my private health care continued for three months and I spent time every week with a cognitive psychologist, who gave me much needed tools to help manage my seasonal affective disorder which was diagnosed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I struggle with winter. Really struggle. I am normally fine until maybe the end of November, this is good as I am fine for all my boy’s birthdays in October and November. December is a difficult month. Everyone expects you to be happy and sociable in December, but I am not. I have missed many nights out, many Christmas parties because I am not feeling it, or I am too down to go out and talk to people.

My story for Mental Health Awareness Week

The blues last until holiday time which is normally April/end of March. Around the time of my birthday. January and February are horrid months, but I start to come around in March as the flowers start to blossom, the sun comes out and it warms up.

I have experimenting with a few strategies to cope with my winter blues, after all, three months of depression is not good. A whole quarter of the year. I spent £100 (£100!!!!!) on a special SAD light (why do companies rip you off when you have something you want to fix), I invested in nutritional supplements like milk thistle, magnesium. I have tried hypnotherapy life coaching with my friend Heather to try to get me through it.

This year my depression (only) lasted three months, when the previous year it lasted five months so I did make an improvement! I have never taken anti-depressants. I seem to have a deep-seated view that they should be last chance saloon, something to do with my sister telling me so when I was young I think. Maybe they are the solution for those three month, or maybe we need to dash off to Spain for Christmas and New Year to the sun?

Living in the now

I can reflect on my life, and my subsequent reactions and can see where things were bad and where things were good. I have turned to life coaches and counsellors several times in my life. Friends have often acted as counsellors and life coaches as well! I feel like I am coping better now I am older and wiser.

I want to say to anyone reading this post who have suffered from mental health illness, get some help. Talk to someone you trust. Do not let it fester in your head, spiralling you down and down into a deep depression. Write a journal, hey why not start a blog. Getting the thoughts and feelings out of your head via the written or spoken word is so powerful.

Here is a list of organisations that I know can help you with problems mentioned above.

Grief Encounter – a charity for child bereavement

NHS Page full of great advice on how to find counsellor’s in your area

Step Change – Debt advice

Citizens Advice Bureau – Debt and consumer Advice

Heather Hall hypnotherapy – Cognitive hypnotherapy

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

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13 Responses

  1. What a beautiful, heartfelt post. I simply cannot imagine what you went through losing both your parents at such a young age, and so close together.

    I have suffered myself for as long as I can remember, I refuse drugs too, I think I could definitely learn from you and have more counselling though if I’m completely honest.

    I’m only ever a phone call away should you ever need someone to talk to x

  2. Thanks you xx Agree the morning school run and walking it was a huge help this year and contributed to me breaking out of the fog earlier.

  3. Thank you for your honest post. I didn’t lose my parents at an early age but much of what you talk about resonates within me. I spent years ‘running away’ attempting to find ‘something’. I use to drink till I forgot (dangerous at times and now causes massive memore losses of those times).
    I dysfunction from Nov to April….(and spent loads on ‘magical cures’).
    I moved from job to job attempting to find my place. I retrained as a therapist and having to go through intense therapy myself it’s allowed me to come out the other side.
    I still feel down at times…. I don’t have children and would love to… but lifes not giving me that option…
    Thank you for your honesty so I can appreciate I’m not the only one out there whose lifes been rocky.
    All the best.

    1. Such a beautiful comment, thank you Jane. Recent intense counselling has brought out a lot of issues that I havnt addressed. I have taken a break over the summer holidays but I am left wondering how to fix all the issues that have been uncovered. So interesting that you dysfuntion from Nov to April…I hate that it happens but I feel so out of control every year and that makes it even worse. Thank you so much for your words, they mean the world. xx

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  5. Wow thank you for sharing your story and amazing of Tesco to take you under their wing and support you like that. You have gone through a lot ❤️❤️

  6. Still it is great that you are sharing such a sad story of yours with others. Hope it will help you a little bit. But yes, everyone has bad times in life, we all suffer, we all experience something strong emotionally, that can destroy us. But for that we need to be grateful because all those situations make us stronger somehow.

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