• Tara Vaughan

A Brief History Of My Past Year.

​This journey started in the spring of 2017 when I decided to make major lifestyle changes to achieve a healthier, and happier me. I slowly began to change my eating habits, began working out more regularly, and began learning more and more about health and nutrition. Prior to this, I was constantly frustrated with how I was feeling physically and mentally.​​ I was constantly tired, lacking energy and I could get stabbing pains in my stomach.

I knew something I was doing was causing damage to my gut in spite of eating a healthy(ish) diet and exercising, I was still permanently tired, depressed, and generally had a negative outlook on life. Towards the end of July I booked in to see my acupuncturist, Adrian - who is fabulous, and he diagnosed me with an Ileo-Cecal Valve leak. Adrian told me to come in once a week to have acupuncture and to get my IC Valve re-trained and I was put on a special diet. No raw foods. No sugar. No alcohol. I was told that I would notice a difference in my energy levels within two weeks.​​

On the evening of day four of my diet, I had a horse fall on top of me. I got away lightly with whiplash, a dislocated rib, a concussion and I was also winded. I was put to bed and wasn't allowed any chocolate to make me feel better - on my birthday my lovely boyfriend, Hugo, gave me a few pieces when my mother wasn't looking!

On day eleven Hugo, who I was moving in with, broke-up with me. So much for me feeling more energised in two weeks. Instead, I was lying in bed suffering with a concussion and a broken heart.

I stuck to my diet, however difficult it was. All I wanted to do at times was drown my sorrows and eat copious amounts of comfort food. Instead I found that I didn't eat and barely drank any water for four days straight. I slowly started to drink more water but still wasn't really eating - picking at this and that but never a full meal.

In September, I turned to my mother and told her that I needed more professional help. I asked her to help me to start looking into clinics - The Priory, The Nightingale, Trauma Clinics, any place, any where, you name it I wanted to go, I needed help. About an hour later my Godmother Karen, arrived for dinner. She asked if I wanted to go on a business trip with her and her daughter Cheskie - earlier that year Cheskie had just started her own company www.cheskie.co.uk which specialise in accessories and luxury interior made by skilled artisans around the world. I didn't know what to do. I'd heard that travelling helps to heal a broken heart but I didn't know if I'd be able to manage it.

I could barely make the decision for myself but with a lot of toing and froing I decided to go. My godmother scooped me up and even on the plane I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing. I spent three weeks travelling around Vietnam and India. My head became slightly clearer and I started to look for some sort of therapy clinic to go to for when I was back. When I got home I had the option of staying at home and trying to find a clinic somewhere or going on the family holiday. I decided to go on the family holiday to Oman. This was a mistake and I fluctuated between anxiety attacks and sever lows, becoming suicidal again. I survived the trip and when I got home, Ziggy, my dog, greeted me at the airport and after a day of being reunited with her I finally found a reason to want to live again. I didn’t realise it when I was away but now there is a teeny tiny part of me wanting to live, for her.

I was struggling to find a clinic that didn’t label you and give you drugs to ‘fix’ the problem. The places in America are the most advance in dealing with mental health but they are strong on the labels and the drugs. Every place I looked at focused more on addiction and then on mental health. I finally found a place and it happened to be in the UK. I spent 60 days there but should have really spent 90. There were people from all walks of life in there with me. A couple of people were younger than me but most were older and what they had to say was at least in all the darkness I am going through this in my twenties and not my forties or fifties.

Even when I came out of the clinic I was still afraid of telling people about my mental health. It’s sad really, that I’ve felt that I’ve had to hide it from the world. That I felt scared telling anyone about me, but also that I’m scared of my own illness. That’s really sad. It was one of the first things that I told Hugo, he was good with it or so I thought. At seven months he witnessed me spiral into a dark low and I realised that he didn’t have a clue. He even suggested that I came off my meds. The thing is, I never prepared him, I didn’t really talk to him about the lows. Regardless of how long it’s been in my life (depression 14 years, suicidality 10 years and anxiety about 2 years now), it still scares me when I go into a mood, I didn’t tell him this. I never said that I’m scared of what I’ll do, I’m scared of what I’ll say, I’m scared of how low I’ll get, I’m scared of whether I’d be able to handle it, I’m scared of hurting those around me, and most of all, I’m scared of the fact I lose all sense of rationality and control in those moods. Hugo saw a dark side to me that I had never shown anyone before. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter who you are or how close you think you are to me unless you have come across it before it’s difficult to understand. Even if you have come across mental illnesses before, whether you, a family member or close friend has it, it’s different with every person. And every person deals with it in a different way. I like to hibernate. It’s not the best thing for me to do. The idea of going out and seeing people terrifies me and exhausts me. I can be bed ridden from it. Hugo really helped me to deal with it, he helped to regulate me.

It's weird now to think that, almost a year ago Hugo suggested that I come off my drugs, I thought he was mad but perhaps he was thinking ahead. My parents have now suggested it. They came back from a six week holiday and they had done a lot of research on my mental health. I, for once in my life, finally felt heard. I wasn't screaming under water anymore with no one able to hear me. My parents came up with a plan to take me off my meds. I had to move home. Set up a schedule. Gradually ween myself off the drugs. I'll go from one whole pill a day to three-quarters of a pill, then half a pill and then a quarter and eventually I will be able to stop taking them.

So, that's it. That's what I'm willing to share right now about the last year in my life. I will probably go into more detail in future blogs. But for now, this is enough.

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