I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was 13. I don’t remember most of my younger years; from 13 to 16 I basically can’t remember much at all, it was all grey—that’s kind of the only way to explain it. When I was 16, my parents found out I was self-harming and made me see a counsellor. From there I went through lots of cognitive behavioural therapy and talk therapy—I still carry on with that now. I see someone every week and I’ve been through practically every type of therapy in the book. My story is more about surviving, rather than being a survivor, because I spend every day trying to fight my own mind. There are times when I’ve felt like I’ve gotten through the worst of it. I feel great and sometimes I think it’s finally over, I can finally be happy, and other times I don’t know if tomorrow I’ll wake up and be done with it all. I have a lot of problems with suicidal thoughts; things get too much for me. It affects my friendships badly. I used to hide behind my friendships. I would have really loud friends that could take the stage from me; I would just hide behind them and no one had to know me. It was great at the time because I couldn’t deal with the limelight, I couldn’t deal with people paying attention to me, but it’s meant that I’ve never had many friends.
I find that my depression and anxiety flow in and out of each other. When I’m really depressed I don’t care about anything, I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want to do anything, I don’t eat and I can’t sleep. Then, when my anxiety is high, it’s the opposite; I care too much about everything. Suddenly I’m terrified of dying and I become incredibly anxious about what people think of me,
I workout excessively, I’m obsessive about my diet and how much sleep I get, I judge myself on every action I make. It gets to the point where I can’t leave the house because my anxiety is telling me that the world hates me, that I’m a terrible person who doesn’t deserve to live but is too scared to die. Trying to explain what is happening in my mind during these times is almost impossible because there is simply no logic to it. It’s a constant intertwining of these two completely separate worlds. It’s exhausting. It’s a real strain on my friendships and relationships because my moods can change so drastically.
I get very wrapped up with feelings of guilt. I feel guilty about practically everything that goes on in the world to the point where I don’t know if I can deal with that guilt on top of me. Even though I’m very much aware it’s not my own fault, the depression and anxiety won’t let me see that logic. At the moment, I spend every day not knowing if tomorrow’s the day I will kill myself. It’s a continual struggle. When I look back at all the counselling and medications I’ve tried, I don’t know if I will ever be better, or if I will ever feel normal, and that thought terrifies me. That’s when I think that there is no way I can carry on like this. That’s when the suicidal thoughts are the worst.
When people see me, sometimes they comment saying, “Oh, you’re so happy, you do lots of things, you handle things well and you’re really organised”, and inside I just think that’s hilarious because last night I was crying, having horrible thoughts and not able to do anything. I don’t want to tell people; I don’t want people to know how weak I feel inside. I also don’t want to put my problems on other people, so when I have this exterior that looks fine and acts like everything is ok, it’s because I would feel too guilty to put my issues on other people. It’s the same guilt that I talked about previously that makes me want to hide what I’m feeling so that I don’t affect others.
It is easy to assume that a person suffering from depression should look sad and just do nothing all day. This is often the image depicted by the media, but myself and many other sufferers use what is called a distraction technique. I make my life busy so that I don’t have to think about what’s making me depressed. I don’t have time to stop and let my thoughts get carried away because each time I let myself get caught up in those thoughts, it becomes harder to escape that darkness.
Now I’m on medication and I have someone I see every week, which great. It’s taken a long time to find someone that I feel so comfortable talking to and that, along with the medication, has changed my life. It doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time but I can think far more logically and have better control over unhealthy thoughts.
All you can do is keep trying. Each day is a new day and you have to remember that what you’re feeling now won’t be what you feel tomorrow. It is a never-ending battle, quite frankly. It can be a small thing that pushes you into having a bad day, but the only thing you can really do is try to stay healthy and remember what you have to live for. Every day I get through is another day that I’ve been a survivor of my own mind and that, for the meantime, is something to celebrate.