Leslie’s story

Leslie’s mental health deteriorated since leaving high school, but after a period of severe lows she decided to take action and talk to her family, whilst using exercise and the SAMH Stomp to help her recovery. 

I have struggled with my mental health since primary school. I was bullied at school and constantly told my work was not good enough which made me feel completely useless. 

At the same time I was being bullied by a group I thought were my friends; they would shout at me and threaten to assault me. 

I struggled throughout primary school and high school, and to everyone’s shock I left at the beginning of fifth year. 

Over time I developed strategies to hide all of my feelings and fears. I always put on a brave face. Yet over the years this took over me, and I felt I lost myself hiding behind this ‘I’m ok’ mask.

I then went into a career where the pressure to get things right was constant, with deadlines and targets always looming. I was quickly made to feel inadequate and useless if I got something wrong.

Over time I developed strategies to hide all of my feelings and fears. I always put on a brave face. Yet over the years this took over me, and I felt I lost myself hiding behind this ‘I’m ok’ mask.

I have a wonderful family and support network, but when my mental health was at it’s worst I did not see this, and still felt very lonely. My anxiety often led to extremely debilitating panic attacks, which were exhausting after each episode. 

It all got all too much and I needed a release, which I found in self harm – the pressure and pain distracted me from the voices in my head. It was addictive as it gave me a small silence from everything going on. This only worked for a while, until thoughts of suicide started to creep in. 

At my lowest point, I realised I needed to do something. 

I started to talk to my family. Saying out loud that I was suicidal and self-harming was a really difficult thing to do, but I wasn’t lying to myself or my family anymore. It was horrible and petrifying for my loved ones to hear, but they had to know the truth. I have support from a psychologist, and I am on medication to help with my anxiety and depression. It is a constant balancing act that I have to learn to manage each day.

Last year I took part in the SAMH Stomp around Murrayfield in aid of SAMH. For me exercise helps my mood, even if it is just for a little while. I would encourage anyone to sign up to the SAMH Stomp and support Scotland’s mental health.