Charlotte, 28, reveals how depression almost claimed her life as she waited for help

A 28-year-old woman has revealed how promotion at work sparked a deep depression which damaged her health and caused her to attempt suicide several times – and how it took more than a year to get the help she needed.

Charlotte Philips went from being a hugely succesful sales associate with a loving family and a great social life to depression and anxiety so deep they caused physical ill health.

Charlotte has decided to share her story to help others, and also to reveal how hard it is to get help for mental health problems in Devon.

She wants to change the perceptions of mental health and call for improvements in local services.

Charlotte had to wait more than a year for treatment – despite telling doctors that she was self-harming and had attempted suicide several times, reports plymouthherald .

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
Today Charlotte, who lives with Lee in Plymouth, is nervous, soft-spoken and finds it hard to maintain eye contact. But she wasn’t always like this. She said she had been a bright, bubbly and confident young woman.

She loved singing and she had a great job. Charlotte said: “It was like someone had taken over my body and I couldn’t fight what was going on in my head.”

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
Charlotte has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and PTSD. But she has been forced to wait a year for treatment.

Though Charlotte had a difficult childhood, she grew up to become a confident young woman, and worked as a successful sales executive at a store in Plymouth.

The 28-year-old was one of the best sales associates in the South West and even won trips abroad. Charlotte’s hard work paid off and she promoted to assistant manager at a store in Exeter.

She was excited to take on new responsibilities, but things soon became difficult. Shortly after Charlotte was promoted, the store manager left the business, and she was left with a huge weight on her shoulders.

Charlotte and Lee talk about mental health stigma and helping others
She said: “Where I was working I was struggling and not getting the support I needed.”

As well as the pressure of managing the whole store, Charlotte was becoming more and more isolated.

She explained: “I was getting up early and travelling into Exeter and then getting back late and not seeing family or friends.”

She began feeling worse and worse, and eventually she was signed off sick from work.

Charlotte said: “When I was first signed off with depression I didn’t understand what it meant or what was going to happen.

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
“It was so hard to explain to anyone how I was feeling. I was just so emotional and scared of how I was starting to feel.”

She explained: “I started to feel that I was not in control of my own mind. I was feeling so disappointed in myself and so alone.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere on my own as I was too scared to, I went into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house.”

Despite going to the doctors, Charlotte said it took a year to get the help and advice she needed. Things got worse as she went on without support and she started self-harming and attempted suicide.

Eventually she was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and PTSD.

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
She also said that constant self-harming meant that her cholesterol levels rocketed. She believes that this led to her having a Cerebrovascular accident (CVA).

A CVA is caused by the sudden death of some cells in the brain due to lack of oxygen caused by a reduced blood flow to the brain, and is also known as a stroke.

She explained: “It was like my brain telling me that we had enough, and it went on a shut down.

“The oxygen stopped flowing into the brain. Which then brought on the CVA.”

But she still couldn’t get an appointment with a psychiatrist.

Charlotte said: “Plymouth does not have enough funding for the amount of people who are in the same situation as me.

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
“I have been waiting for more than a year to see a psychologist.”

Charlotte said that she never had a problem with her mental health before. She didn’t know anyone who had been depressed either.

Now she wants to raise awareness of mental health and fight the stigma surrounding it. She said: “People don’t realise how debilitating depression can be and how it can affect people.”

Lee said that he had always underestimated the illness, and suggested people just needed to “man up” or “get on with it” when they spoke about it openly.

(Image: Charlotte Phillips)
He said: “I had never, ever dealt with it. I’ve always been ignorant. You think get up, get on with it. But with everything Charlotte has had to go through, it has been a real learning curve all the way through.”

Charlotte said: “People can have it from such a young age and not realise or understand it. I had a friend who suffered with depression from a young age but had no idea.

“She would say things like ‘I’m not all up there’, ‘I’ve got a few screws loose’, or ‘I don’t feel normal’. We shouldn’t be talking like that.”

Her aim is to get better and help other people who are going through the same thing. She admits that she still has a long way to go.

Where to find help

These local organisations offer help and support to those suffering with mental illness

Livewell Southwest
The Samaritans
Blurt it Out


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