Mental Health and Me Awards

Huge congratulations to Ellie Smith from Tier 4 CAMHS, who won an award at the Mental Health and Me Awards in Liverpool as part of the World Mental Health Day celebrations in October.

The competition was run by Writing on the Wall, a dynamic Liverpool based community organisation that co-ordinates projects and events that celebrate writing in all its forms.

The ceremony was attended by Professor Green…..not an eminent psychiatrist as some people (not YP) thought, but the rapper singer/songwriter, who is patron of a male prevention suicide charity following the death of his father in 2010, who has depression and anxiety himself.

Ellie won the Journalism category and her piece has been published , along with other entries from the competition in a book entitled Mental Health and Me.

Below is her winning entry

When I first saw this competition, I was stuck on what to write, my mum told me to just write from the heart so I guess that’s what I’m going to try and do.

 Well, unfortunately, mental health plays a big part in my life; I say it’s unfortunate, but I’ve met the most amazing people through my journey. Especially when I was in hospital; friends, support workers, nurses, just all of my team.  I’ve realised just how many people do care about me and I guess that’s a good thing that’s come out of everything. I believe everything happens for a reason and that we just need to make the most out of whatever life throws at us, no matter how hard it may be.

 My thoughts haunt me every single day. Poisonous lies intoxicating my brain, and, that’s the trouble, I know my thoughts aren’t true but I can’t help but act on them. That’s the thing with mental health, it’s like touching a hot stove, you know it’s wrong but you can’t help but keep going back to touch it, just to feel some sort of sensation I guess.

Mental health is scary; hard to understand and impossible to explain. Only those going through it have an idea of what it’s like. Right now, I am a mixture of very happy and very sad. And I’m trying to figure it all out, all these feelings and emotions and words and thoughts, and what they all mean. Everything I feel is a contradiction of itself, and I do not understand any of it.

 The stigma around mental health is awful. People don’t realise that mental illnesses are serious illnesses that take lives. People think of it / talk of it lightly, as if it’s not a big deal. Well, it is.

Depression isn’t a mysterious girl with running mascara staring into the sunset, its staring at the ceiling at 4am unable to function. Anxiety/panic attacks aren’t a cute girl getting nervous when talking in class, or girls burying their heads into their lover’s chests, it’s wailing uncontrollably as if all oxygen has been taken away from you, not being able to breathe or think straight. It’s not being able to do the smallest of things like without feeling like you’re going to cry and be sick. Bulimia isn’t a long haired girl, gracefully bending over a toilet with a tragic yet beautiful face. It’s a red, puffy and distraught face with vomit all over it and a nose bleed. Anorexia isn’t a slim model, politely refusing their favourite food, it’s a life of misery, hospital appointments, and your poor little body and its organs slowly shutting down. Self-harm isn’t a boy, kissing your scars and telling you it’s going to be okay. Its nasty scars will be there forever to haunt you and showers that sting. Mental illnesses are not beautiful or anything to aspire to, they’re deadly and ruin lives. They don’t make you special and don’t make people like you more, in fact, quite the opposite. Stop glamourizing it.

 Right now, I’m glad to say I’m doing quite well with managing my mental health, I never thought I would be able to say it, but it’s true. I spent months and months in a psychiatric ward, in order to help me recover from anorexia nervosa and other mental illnesses; during those months I was convinced I was never going to ever get better. I saw no way out. It was as if I was stuck in this black hole, heading deeper and deeper. But now, I’ve decided enough is enough! I think I can finally see a way out of this hell. It’s taken away years of my life and I’ve finally realised it can’t take it anymore. I want to move on with my life. There comes a time when you realise turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because there’s so much more to life than the page you were stuck on.

What if you’re in your thirties, and your lying in bed with the love of your life? It’s a Saturday morning, but you don’t have to be up for a while. You can just lounge in bed. But then you hear the beautiful sound of a baby crying, and you remember, it’s yours. You beat your demons. You moved on with your life, you created your perfect world, surrounded by perfect people. We all have that to look forward to, knowing we made it.

Embrace life. Grab it with both hands and never let go, charge into new experiences and don’t ever look back. Move on with your life; and don’t you dare give your illness the satisfaction of beating you. You’re stronger than that. You can and you will have a life, don’t forget the times when you were 10, and going over to your best friend’s house and drinking hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows was the best thing in the world. Don’t forget how happy it used to make you when you made your parents proud. Don’t forget how you used to love performing a song or dance in front of your family at Christmas. Don’t forget all of the memories. Don’t ever let your illness deceive you and tell you your life is better now. Just think how happy you can be.

 Close your eyes and imagine a life without your mental health. And, as Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it”.


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