Dealing with mental health issues can feel like your mind is at war with your body. Maddy Dixon struggled with depression and anxiety, which manifested as destructive behaviors like self-harm and disordered eating. It wasn’t until she finally gained the courage to reach out to her mom and admit that she needed help that she finally got the reprieve she needed.
You can learn more about Maddy’s journey toward happiness and fulfillment by checking out her Instagram here:
I’m Maddy, I’m 23, and I’ve been struggling with mental health for just over a decade now. I started off being ashamed of how I felt and hid it away. When I was nineteen years old, I reached my lowest point and attempted my life. A few months after, I made my Instagram account and started sharing my life, my mental health journey, tips and advice, and just candid posts that I saw as lacking from social media. Fast-forward four years, and I’m much happier and healthier, and I can say that opening up about my mental health has saved my life.
How it all started:
I first started feeling low when I was around twelve. I had always been a worrier and an anxious child, but the start of my teens unleashed a new load of anxieties. I worried about my weight, about boys, my grades, and my social circles. I started skipping meals and staying up late at night listening to sad music because I couldn’t sleep. Things started getting worse at fourteen, and I struggled with self-harming and disordered eating, as well as incredibly low moods and increased irritability. I didn’t reach out to anybody until I was fifteen when I eventually told my mum. We went to my GP, and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was fifteen.
The biggest challenges:
The main challenge I faced in my healing journey was admitting that I needed help and facing my issues head-on. I’ve always preferred to avoid my problems and have also never liked to be a ‘hassle’. Learning that I wasn’t a hassle or nuisance for sharing my problems and asking for help was a big part of my healing journey that has helped me massively, so overcoming this challenge was greatly beneficial.
When it was time to seek help:
I’ve sought help at multiple different times in my life. In the eleven years I’ve experienced mental health issues, it’s become easier and easier each time to get help. I first reached out to my mother when I was fifteen, got help from my GP and a psychiatrist, and started taking medication when I was sixteen. Between then and now, I’ve been on differing medication dosages, and when I was twenty, I started therapy. I was in therapy for around a year, and I am still on medication.
How Maddy reached out:
The first person I reached out to was my mother. She was and still is my biggest support in all areas of life, and she never shies away from a conversation about mental health. I first opened up to her when I was fifteen, and she helped me get help. Since then, I’ve reached out to partners and friends and have become a lot more open in my discussions about my mental well-being.
The main source of her healing:
Medication, therapy, and a great support system have been key in my healing journey. The medication gave me the energy and motivation to then go into therapy, and therapy then helped me speak more openly with those around me. I believe in a rounded approach to healing and that everything connects and aids effectiveness.
Maddy’s favorite way to heal:
My favorite modality for healing is a holistic approach: medication, therapy, CBT, exercise, a great support system, and anything that makes me happy. No one thing has helped me by itself. Medication has made the biggest difference in the energy it’s given me to turn my life around, but it hasn’t been a cure. It’s just allowed me to get into therapy, to get out of bed, to exercise, to see my friends. Without it, I’m sure I would have also found a way out of the dark pit, but it’s what worked for me at the time and still works for me now.
Maddy’s thoughts on those who are skeptical:
If someone is skeptical about my approach, then that’s fine! I know many people think medication is useless for mental health, others think talking is useless, and others think one is good, but the other is bad, or both are good, or both are bad, or whatever! Essentially, you have to find what works for you. I’ve personally never clicked with mindfulness, but I know so many people who have, and it works for them. Whatever makes you feel better is the best approach for you. So, if people are skeptical about my methods, that’s okay. I know it works for me, and I’m sure there’s more I could be doing I’m always happy for advice, but I won’t let anyone’s opinion stop me from doing what I know works for me.
How Maddy handles current struggles:
Low moods, anxiety, dissociation, disordered eating, and horrible, intrusive thoughts are still things I struggle with. Some days are great, and some days are still quite dark. I’m in a much better place than I was when I was nineteen, but mental health, and life, are not linear. Things change, and I have to learn to adapt and keep myself in a healthy place, and that’s not always what happens. I have the tools and resources now, but sometimes all I can do is sit and wait out the storm.
Maddy’s most beneficial tools during her healing:
My friends, family, and the Instagram community have been the most valuable part of my healing journey. Having that support network has become so vital, and I know if I feel myself slipping, I have someone I can turn to. I have loving people who will check in on me, help me, and support me in my decisions. They’re also good at calling me out on the bad behaviors that we all know will make me feel worse. I’m incredibly fortunate for the group I have around me, and being able to talk openly with them has made all the difference. When I was nineteen and struggling, I barely spoke to anyone. But now, I have people who can help because I let them help me.
Maddy’s advice to those who are struggling:
Don’t be off-put by relapses, dips in your journey, or a spanner thrown in the works. Life is never as simple as we’d hope, but you’re doing amazingly. It can feel so hard to get better, but there is so much proof out there that you can and will get better. Healing isn’t a linear journey, unfortunately, but you can get to a much better place. Be patient and kind to yourself.
Why holistic healing:
Simply because it’s what works for me. I’ve tried so many paths, and this is the one that has stuck. I tried medication alone, which helped a bit, and I’ve tried therapy alone, which also helped a bit, but then when I combined them, it helped massively. Then adding on a support group, fresh air, exercise, some self-care here and there, and just being kinder to myself has made the path that I’m on now. It’s not perfect, and I still have so much to learn, and so much more I can do, but it’s so much better than any other approach I’ve taken before.
Maddy’s helpful resources:
The Instagram community has been a huge help in my healing journey. Meeting people and seeing them express their journeys and be so candid has been so beneficial. Social media can be a tricky one, but when you fill your social feeds with good people and good content, it leads to a lot of good in yourself.
Best Friend Therapy is a podcast I listen to a lot, as well as How to Fail (Can you tell Elizabeth Day is my favorite podcaster?!). They’re not strictly healing-focused, but they do look at real people and real life and shed direct light on their problems. Best Friend Therapy is an excellent introduction to therapeutic terms and practices, and there is a lot to learn from it.
Websites that I constantly look at for information and advice are: Mind.org.uk, rethink.org, beateatingdisorders.co.uk, and youngminds.org.uk
Regarding books, anyone who knows me knows how much I love to read. So books that focus on mental health are my final cup of tea.
- Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
- Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
- The Stranger on the Bridge – Jonny Benjamin
- It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue (and other lies) – Scarlett Curtis
- This Book Could Save Your Life – Ben West
- Healing Through Words – Rupi Kaur
Fiction: (some are jollier than others…but all made me feel less alone)
- The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
- Sorrow and Bliss – Meg Mason
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Taking a holistic approach to mental health requires an open mind. Experimenting with a multitude of modalities and finding what works for you will be the key to your success when tackling the issues holding you back.
Maddy found the solution to her mental health issues through medication, therapy, CBT, and exercise. But when it comes to your mental health journey, it’s essential to talk to professionals and practitioners and find what works for you! Learn more about Maddy’s journey by following her on Instagram:
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