Meet Jodie Hoskin, Fundraising, Training and Volunteer Coordinator at Bath Mind. In this post, Jodie will take you through her mental health journey, reiterating the importance of speaking out to break the stigma surrounding mental health.
Jodie was made aware of her drastic mood changes from a young age, despite a happy childhood. Her teenage years were challenging as she battled to regulate when she was high and when she was low.”
“I don’t necessarily come from a background that particularly understands what mental health really means and what mental illness actually looks like. My family, as supportive as they are now, weren’t sure how to support me with this invisible illness. They found my moods challenging and I can imagine it’s hard, as a parent, to see your child go through such highs and lows for no apparent reason. My family, GP and I put it down to hormones until I was about 18.”
Although university can be beneficial for many, helping them to find their way and establish themselves a bit better, adapting to a big change whilst battling inner demons proved difficult for Jodie.
Her first year was a struggle as she avoided classes and distracted herself with the typical pressures that can occur at university. In her third year, she found herself in a difficult situation with housemates and her relationship at the time.
“I got so low that I couldn’t really see a way out of it. I did ask for help and I accessed student wellbeing services… My mood got so low that I had to go to the GP, I had to start accessing some self-help classes and then eventually got referred to the mental health community team in Exeter.”
Waiting lists for mental health-related support, such as accessing counselling or seeing a psychiatrist, are a growing issue in the UK and can often mean that those struggling are in a worse position than they should have been if they’d received help earlier.
“I explained that I was feeling really high sometimes, productive like the world couldn’t keep up with me and then suddenly so low that I would be unbearable to be around. Even for my closest friends, they found it really challenging to know how to help me. During my mental health assessment, I was told I was experiencing symptoms of “depression”, and “emotional instability” – I didn’t really have a clue what most of these terms meant. I only knew that I wanted something definite, and some assurance. I remember thinking during my assessment, well I suppose I could be quite few of these things. I’ve learnt since then that it’s rare to get such clarity, and true acceptance of mental illness is embracing the complexities that come with it.
Jodie was put on medication after her mixed diagnosis but didn’t get on with the particular prescribed drug. For a while, her mental health deteriorated significantly as it made both the lows and the highs more extreme.
She found herself in numerous difficult environmental situations, alongside the pressure of passing her final year at university. In the end things got too much for her.
“I don’t think the diagnosis team really understood where I was at, and neither did I…I ended up overdosing on my medication and ending up in hospital for a bit. It was a wake-up call for me. I remember waking in A&E and feeling this overwhelming sense of fear, potentially for the first time understanding the power of my lows, and a complete loss of control. You find yourself in this situation and whether you’re feeling yourself or not you realise something has to change.
That moment has very much shaped how I approach mental health. It gave me permission to realise that this had gone further than I realised it could and that I needed to start taking my moods, how I was treating myself and others seriously. Before that, I’d been lying to myself that I was fine or simply hormonal. That was a true turning point for me.”
Although it was a dark time for Jodie, she reflects on the experience as a huge turning point in her life. It was a wake-up call for her to take a look at her life and those she was surrounding herself with. She began putting herself first and learnt that those who could classify as true friends would stick by her no matter what.
She begun to change her mentality and attitudes towards certain notions such as having it all. And, she began to accept help from the university without seeing it as something to be ashamed of.
“I slowly learnt to be okay with asking for help. It’s been an up and down journey. A lot of it was being honest with myself, but it’s all learning curves. The biggest change for me once I came out of hospital was that I had to be a lot more honest and genuine with the people in my life and accept their help.”
Jodie went on to graduate and complete a masters degree, but then came another adjustment for her to go through. She was feeling lost and unsure on the career path she wanted to be taking.
This was tackled through trying out numerous jobs that eventually led her to working at Bath Mind, which she describes as an “amazing mental health charity, [which] has given me a lot of permission to be honest, and open with myself and my colleagues.”
A change of medication that works better than what Jodie was previously on has made the world of difference to her, giving her the space to see a therapist. “A combination of the right medication and therapy has allowed me to hold down a job that I love, grow in a relationship with a supportive partner, and ultimately, I have that emotional clarity that I just didn’t have before.
Until starting here (at Bath Mind), I’d dismiss medication altogether due to past experiences. It just means I can have conversations like this and not find myself instantly in tears. It’s given me such a great headspace to think, and work through my emotions with a professional.”
Jodie offers some advice for anybody struggling or caring for somebody who’s having a hard time.
”My biggest advice for anyone struggling with their mental health is take that brave step, and book an appointment with your GP. If you’re lucky enough to have a local Mind in your area, we are all here to help you the best we can with support, activities and advice.
Try to be as genuine as you can with friends and family, and ultimately, try to step away from judging yourself. For me, it was incredible how much I was able to learn about myself once I reasoned with and quietened the dark thoughts that had previously controlled my life for so many years.”
Thank you once again to Jodie, for sharing her story. You can find out more about Bath Mind and the incredible work they do here.
Ciao for now x