Hannah’s story

Hannah Bilverstone is 19 and is a student from Hertfordshire. She has used online advice for help with her problems including bullying, depression,bereavement, anorexia and self-harm. 

When I think about my school days, I think about being unhappy. I went to a high-achieving girls’ primary school where I was made to feel that I wasn’t good enough. At secondary school, things got worse. The girls made snide remarks about my appearance, so I became more withdrawn and unhappy. My self-esteem was non-existent. To be honest, I despised myself.

While all this was going on, my grandmother died suddenly. It was a big shock, because we were really close and I wasn’t expecting it. My whole family were finding it hard to deal with, and I didn’t feel like I could talk to them about how devastated I felt. I started to self-harm, out of frustration. I developed less helpful ways of coping – I had stopped eating and also started to think of more drastic ways to deal with my depression.

I’d become anaemic as a result of my anorexia and the doctor prescribed me iron tablets. Not long after that, I took an overdose. My brain was so packed with problems I thought dying might be a way of stopping the pain. So after a few months I did it again and took a few more. Again, nothing happened.

A few weeks after my fourteenth birthday, I took another overdose in the morning before my mum drove me to school. The next day I was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

I was well enough to go back to school that autumn, but I had a bad reception. None of the other girls would talk to me – they seemed to resent me for being ill and ignored me. I only lasted a week. Instead of going to school, I wrote a suicide note, took the biggest overdose of iron tablets I could, and ran away to central London. I wasn’t planning to come back this time, but my little brother found the note and told my parents. They called the police, who tracked me down, and I was rushed to a nearby A&E. This time I was there for six moths, and after that, I spent another six weeks in a secure hospital.

Although I hated being in hospital, it did make me better. I was 15 when I discharged myself. I’d been in therapy and been on an eating plan, my weight had gone up and I finally recognised that I was ill – which was the most important step. I wanted to get better. When I came out of hospital, I used online help a lot more. Now that I understood I needed help I could accept what I was reading and put advice into practice.

Now I am at University. I’m more confident and can talk about my problems because I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I really believe that the support I had online is what helped me make the first steps, it built up my inner strength and helped to knock down the barriers I had put up. I still go back to TheSite.org whenever I’m having a bad patch, because I know I can rely on it. TheSite.org keeps me going.

Video: Interview with Hannah

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