Sharing is caring. For #timetotalk world mental health awareness day here’s my story…

I recently posted on my Facebook page that I found it inspiring so many people sharing their stories/journeys about their mental health. The more people speak out the more people feel less alone.

This is particularly sensitive to me right now as I have my almost 5 month old daughter. One of my recent concerns was passing on my problems with mental health to my little girl. Now I have come to terms that I don’t need to hide them from her, just educate her and show her how I manage them.

Little did I know that at the tender young age of 8 I was already affected by mental health issues. I thought nothing of the fact that I deemed myself ugly, because that was a fact in my world. I had already told all my school friends that I was going to have plastic surgery on my face when I grew up, so I could be beautiful. I had got it into my head that you just had your face wrapped in bandages, kept them on for a while and then when you took them off you were beautiful. This is testament to my young age.

I realise this disturbingly is quite common now, however 35 years ago before the celeb culture, gossip magazines and reality T.V. plastic surgery was definitely not the norm and I didn’t know anyone who had had any surgery. My mum was a very naturally beautiful woman, who didn’t wear a lot of make up and wasn’t obsessed by how she looked. In fact I never heard her say one negative thing about herself. She was always very body positive, and she never ever dieted.

Affected by low self esteem a sense of not being good enough propelled what I now know to be BDD Body Dysmorphia Disorder. A distorted view on how one looks and an obsessiveness with appearance, often leading to in severe cases people not leaving the house so as not to impose their ‘ugliness’ on the world, to continually seeking surgery to ‘perfect’ their look. There are many celebrities that fall into this latter category, sadly many are unaware or choose not to speak out about BDD.

I also fall into the latter category. This is the first time I have ever shared this information, however I have had 10 cosmetic surgeries, including 3 breast enhancements, and most recently 2 nose jobs. I’ve also had many botox and threads treatments. My obsession with surgery came when I could afford it, once I started working as an escort. I’d ‘fix’ one thing and then look for the next.

BDD is a type of OCD (obsessive character compulsive disorder) and is often combined with other obsessive disorders, for me this has been skin picking. Both of these conditions cause a huge amount of distress and anxiety. I have also been affected by depression and panic attacks.

It’s the accumulation and recognition of these things that sent me down the path of self development and then learning skills to help others with similar problems. It is only through battling with my own mental health issues that I believe I have found the strength to help others. These types of mental illness, like many, are not curable, however one learns coping strategies and how to manage them.

The skill set that helped me that I now use for my work is my training in NLP and hypnotherapy. I’ve come a long way since that little lost girl, some days I do pretty well and others not so, but that’s life and I’m forever grateful for the good and bad, as you can’t have darkness without light. The biggest lesson I have learnt is self acceptance, and self love and through this I have learnt to love and embrace these challenging parts of my life.

Please share this story if you know someone who it might help feel less alone.

Me at 8 years old with my siblings