I am a naive person. A very naive person. Because I, with my psychology degree behind me, thought that I'd finally hit the nail on the head when it came to my mental health.

It's embarrassing how wrong I was.

Last year, when I finished my second round of CBT, I thought everything had finally clicked into place, and my mental illness was on its way to being 'cured' (don't worry, I know that's not necessarily possible). If not cured, 'manageable'. My therapist and I had worked together over about 3 months to kick depression up the arse and get my brain to think more positively.

And for a while, it worked. It really, really, worked. I actually started to give a damn about myself. I wanted to get fit and eat healthily, I wanted to get out and do more things, I wanted to push myself to work hard at my degree.

And then, the second half of my diagnosis kicked in, and let me tell you, anxiety is just as bad as depression.

In my 24 years of life, I don't think I've had as much trouble as I've had with anxiety, with anything else. For as long as I can remember, it's been there with me: at school, when I was afraid to raise my hand in class (teachers picked up on this, which was mortifying); at home, when I cried so much out of nervousness before having my picture taken, and from the ages of 5-10 having to have a passport photo of a sobbing, red-faced child which got lots of 'awwws' at the airport - mortifying; and in my own self, every time I thought 'I could do that' and then didn't, out of fear.

Over the last 18 or so months, anxiety has become my biggest problem, and even more annoyingly, it triggers depressive episodes for me. I did something beneficial, and it just got spoilt anyways. It's the mental health equivalent of getting up early to beat the traffic and then being late for work.

And over the last 3 months or so, especially, it's been right on the surface. Honestly, I get anxious over things I never used to before. This weekend, for example, I was anxious at a fireworks display, and I bloody love fireworks!

I guess what I needed to realise is that my mental health 'stuff' is never going to be finished. Coming to terms with the fact my recovery isn't over, and it's probably always going to be ongoing, has been, well, crap. On the worst days, it feels impossible and like I'll never have a normal life, and on the best days, it's just irritating. I feel like because I got lucky getting treatment, I should be 'fixed'. The fact I got any treatment at all means I should be normal, right? And I feel like society, as it does for so many other issues, assumes a 'you got help, you're fine now' mentality, which kinda explains my naivety I guess. But, I'm determined to not let my mental illness(es) ruin my life.

As I'm writing this, I'm a few days into recovery from the worst night of panic attacks I've ever had. And I know this, because I'm calling them 'panic attacks' instead of 'anxiety attacks'; I feel like now I know the difference!

The irony is, having these panic attacks shaking me up and unsettling me, has made me more motivated to settle myself. I want to get better, and I want to accept my mental illness like an acquaintance who occasionally irritates me, who I can just tell to bugger off and then deal with them the next time they pop up.

It's going to be with me for the rest of my life, and while that sounds scary and upsetting, it doesn't have to be. I'll manage, just like everyone else.

M x