'I've been terrified of my mind since I was a small child' - Blogger mum (28) on her life long battle with mental health
For mum-of-one Grace Rattigan, anxiety has been a constant companion in her life
Having battled depression and chronic anxiety, Grace, who is expecting her second child in September, refuses to let her illness rule her life.
Determined to share her journey, the sales administrator who lives in Citywest with her husband Stephen and daughter, Rebecca, set up her blog Frilly Flossy to remind people to 'count their rainbows, not their rainstorms'.
"I have been terrified of my mind since I was a small child. One of my biggest fears was someone I loved being involved in a car crash. Then I got knocked down by a car. I was terrified of losing one of my parents. Then my mam died at the age of 48.
"I will give you an example of my anxiety. I know almost every symptom of nearly all cancers. I may offer you my sympathy and smile politely at you when you tell me you're sick, but secretly, I'm wondering have you considered you might have the rarest cancer possible?
Or if you casually mention that you haven't been able to reach your loved one for a few hours, I'll reassure you that they're okay. While in my head, I'm screaming, 'Christ have you tried every means of contacting them? Have you checked the news for workplace accidents? or AA Roadwatch for car accidents?' That's what it's like living in my head.
In the weeks and months after my mam passed, I had diagnosed myself and others with so many forms of cancer.
When Stephen developed a cough - a cough that came out of nowhere and to me was unusual and prolonged, I panicked.
His cough, however, was simply a side effect from the blood pressure medication he was taking. But until I knew that, I spent hours and hours online, always coming to the same conclusion. I had enough, so I took the extreme option and I turned up at his routine doctor appointment totally unknown to him and asked the doctor if he thought Stephen had lung cancer. Stephen was 27 years old, and a non-smoker - of course he didn't have lung cancer. But to me, he could have been part of that very small 2pc who I had read about.
Another time, I looked in the mirror and seen a small dent on my breast. I went straight into the doctor the next morning. My own GP wasn't available, so I went to another doctor. He gave me a quick check and fobbed me off. For the next week, I was engulfed with fear, I spent more time on Google than I did sleeping or eating. By the Friday, I became a shell of a person so I booked in with my own GP.
I don't even remember the drive down, or how I managed to get there safely, but I made it and sat crying in the waiting room for a half hour. By the time I got into his office, I was uncontrollably shaking and sobbing. He went so far as to put his career on the fact that I didn't have breast cancer.
I came away from that GP appointment with a new prescription for antidepressants. Since the age of 17, after I was knocked down, I had been on and off antidepressants. I have seen so many psychologists and counsellors, some helpful, some not. Nothing has ever 'fixed me', I always just felt it was being masked by medication.
I think antidepressants are a wonderful thing, and not for one second will I ever discredit their use. However, three years ago, I decided I was packing in my contraceptive pill which I had also been on since I was 17. I just didn't feel it was agreeing with me anymore. So, I decided the antidepressants were going with it.
My biggest fear now is that the adorable, impressionable little mind of my daughter will be affected by my behaviour and that she will turn out just like me. I am so adamant not to let this happen that I am learning every day how to control this and my mind. I'm teaching myself to react differently and to try not always jump to Google and/or the worst case scenario.
Rebecca is heading for five years of age, and the first time she seen a doctor, she was two and a half. She's only been a handful of times since then, and only ever for the normal illnesses she picked up in school.
For now, in general, am I still worrying? Of course - I worry more than the norm every day and I don't think that will ever change. I still suffer from extreme anxiety and I believe I always will, but I'm getting there and I'm still medicine free.
One piece of advice I would offer is 'never be afraid to accept help, and never be ashamed to admit that you aren't well."
• Follow Grace's journey on Facebook (FrillyFlossy), Instagram (@frillyflossy) or Snapchat (@frillyflossy)