Charlotte Underwood is a 22-year-old girl from Norfolk, UK. Charlotte is passionate about raising awareness of mental health and preventing suicide. Her aim is to be a voice for those who are not ready to speak and to ensure that no one feels they are alone. Charlotte blogs a few times a week, has self-published two books and is working on a third. She says she has fallen in love with poetry and is always writing!
I have suffered with different forms of mental health for as long as I can remember. I have always felt different and out of place. I battle with severe depression and anxiety, as well as body dysmorphia. There is a chance that I am battling something along the lines of a personality disorder but that is still under investigation.
For a very long time I would cope by smoking and drinking, I was an alcoholic at 14 and became very manipulative, I lost track of who I was, I was far from the golden hearted child I used to be praised for being. At 18 I lost my father to suicide, months after I tried to take my own life, it was not my first attempt but it was the only one that landed me in hospital. It’s been a long four years, a rollercoaster of a ride and I have soon learnt that recovery isn’t linear but while I write this now, I certainly am content in my life and I am so proud for all I have become and have fought.
I did seek help for a long time from the age of 14 but it was a lot of dead ends. It seems in the last 8 years, the ability to access mental health services has completely changed, it’s easier to get help now but it is still so difficult. Last year, after losing my job due to my mental health, I became sick of who I had become. I was angry at myself and with my wedding coming up, I wanted to make a change and get better, so I went to the GP. It seems an obvious start but I have developed a huge phobia of doctors due to bad experiences, so doing this was a huge leap. We found medication that helped me, though it took four attempts and I am now seeing her every month or so to monitor my progress and prevent any risks.
The GP then referred me to the Wellbeing who took almost a year to get in contact, it was a struggle but at least I had my GP to talk to if I needed. The Wellbeing could not help me as they only dealt with short term cases and the help I needed was very deep rooted that in their words, would be like opening Pandora’s box if I did not have long term and consistent support.
After a very short wait, I had an assessment under the secondary care team in my area who have now put me under another waiting list, which I am still on, however I should receive help in the next few months, I have been offered Trauma and Bereavement counselling as well as CBT and I am so excited as I know how much this will benefit me and help me understand myself better.
But on a day to day basis, I need to work on myself constantly, I do this through writing daily as it is therapeutic and allows me to extract bad thoughts from festering in my mind. I have a trampoline in my living room that I use a few times a day as I can’t help but smile when bouncing. I like to clean and work on my future, being productive and checking off a list feels so rewarding and eliminates time that would otherwise be spent dwelling in my bad thoughts. I have found, as I have insomnia, lavender oil, an eye mask and calming music helps me, or if I am feeling anxious, being read to or an audio book is great.