My name is Caitlin. I'm 24 and I live with diagnosed depression, anxiety and OCD - which I call: the 'triple threat' since I turned 18.
Mental health has affected my life a great deal. When I first got diagnosed with depression, I was studying for my degree at University. I was unable to cope meeting deadlines, and it was a real struggle to get through even with extensions I received. Day-to-day, even getting out of bed can feel impossible. It feels like I am constantly in the midst of an invisible storm. No one else can see it, but my energy levels and enthusiasm for life are just drained.
I feel like a puppet with its strings cut.
I never know when a bout of anxiety, depression or OCD is going to hit me - but when it does, it feels like everything positive and good about my life is squashed and sabotaged; including relationships and job opportunities.
I find Christmas a particular anxious time. The same as my birthday. Every year, there is extra pressure to be happy, to have love surround you - and for me, it feels the loneliest because of this. I feel myself weighed down, low and unable to enjoy any of the festivities and joy.
The media create this perfect vision of a family Christmas - and it's an ideal that has hung over me and made me very miserable in response. My depression and anxiety always get worse in December.
I turned to Mind at Christmas. Feeling lost and at breaking point, I found Mind's info line on their website and reached out. I needed to hear another human voice to talk sense to me, and just listen...
The lady who answered my call was incredibly friendly and informative. She was able to relate instantly and emphasise with my seemingly unique thoughts and feelings of self-harm. We talked through what help I could get, and where I could go. She provided me with all the numbers and addresses I would need. We then discussed methods of distraction. She asked me what I enjoyed doing - my depression spoke for me. But then we got onto the conversation of Art Therapy and how drawing can help calm and express feelings in a more creative way. I picked up my pen and began several weeks of illustration - making a series of Christmas cards for my family members. I felt so much calmer and grounded when I drew.
Now, I try to keep mindful and creative when my mental health is suffering. I remember that expressing myself through art actually can have the power to radically shift my mindset, and take me out of a diffident period like Christmas. I am self-employed as a PR Freelance, Writer and Blogger - and find myself able to keep a handle more on my mental health now I have a creative outlet that earns a living. I can't thank Mind Info-line enough for their direction.
For information on how to look after your mental health over Christmas see www.mind.org.uk/ourchristmas