*Disclaimer: This post discusses crisis, self-neglect and health conditions that may trigger OCD, health anxiety or other mental health problems and their symptoms. If you are affected by anything in this post, please seek professional support and advice. I also want to point out that I am not judging or stigmatising anyone in this post - it is my personal experience.*
It's been over two years since I hit crisis point.
It all started in November 2013, as far as I can remember and it spiralled out of control in a few weeks, leading me to crisis point.
Back when I was in college, when I was studying health and social care, was had a lesson that was all about research - we were asked to research a topic.
The lecturer assigned me and my table with HIV.
I didn't mind looking at first, but then it got into signs and symptoms.
And that was it.
The panic started. What if? Have I? I want to point out at this point that I am not a judgemental person and am not stigmatising people who have HIV. It was my bodies reaction to hearing it said and reading about it - that was the judgemental thing.
I didn't feel like I had control over my mind from that point. I'd lost control.
I went to get tested and I broke down in the clinic. I remember the nurse having to speak to the consultant and then deciding I could get a fast response test and then an actual test done to put my mind at ease.
I told her that I wasn't eating or sleeping well over the worrying.
She told me I had anxiety, but it went to the back of my mind as everything was okay.
But the worry didn't go away and soon I was scared of going outside for fear of contamination. Public transport became a nightmare so my college attendance dropped. I wasn't feeling well physically or mentally. Coming into contact with people and their bodily fluids frightened me. I couldn't bare it.
You may be thinking, how did that cause a crisis? Well, It changed me - my thoughts, my behaviours. It also gave me the label of having mental health problems. It's not an easy thing to accept.
I started calling helplines multiple times a day asking this and that. Am I? Should I? What if? Multiple questions with answers that didn't help me.
I started and finished a placement in a few weeks because it was so difficult for me. I didn't fail the placement but there were significant weaknesses that didn't sound like me at all.
Over the next few weeks, I gradually became scared of leaving my room. I would spend days in my room. I was frightened of the place I'd grown up in for nearly 20 years.
I felt like I would be contaminated by the people that I loved. It was all a blur and still is because it wasn't like me at all.
I became a recluse and found it impossible to leave my loft. I remember crying having to go down my loft ladders to tend to my personal care. I found it hard to eat and drink and sleep.
Things did start to get better - but then they got worse again. I'd watch my every move meticulously using hand sanitiser. I'd go through a bottle or so every few days. I couldn't even stroke my dog because I was paralysed with fear.
A few weeks passed like this and then I couldn't take it anymore.
I rang a helpline and said I needed help and that was my first acceptance. I realised I was in crisis. I'd gotten over the barrier - the first one at least.
After my final phone call to a helpline, I self-referred myself to my GP.
It was a big step, but my rational mind told me I needed to take it. So I did.
That's what started my journey onto my recovery and my informal diagnosis and eventually my formal diagnosis that I received last year.
I've come far from those few weeks of crisis. I'm in recovery now though and that's the most important thing.
I still have some of my original symptoms, some have gone completely and new ones have sprung up. There are bends in the road. It happens.
And that's it - a lesson in which I had to research HIV started my mental health problems.
I'm not blaming anyone, it's my fault - it's my brain's fault for being affected by it.
This is my mental health story and I'm not ashamed anymore.
You can read the full story on my blog: http://socialworkjourney2013.wordpress.com.
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