Today is an example of a bad day with depression. I have shut the door, turned the lights off, closed the curtains and isolated myself from everyone. I have had numerous hours of sleep today because I cannot face the world, not even my family. This happens all the time. I lay here thinking horrible things, and it wasn't until I picked my phone and saw an article on depression, I thought, you know what, people need to understand more, and the only way they might be able to is if normal people tell their story.
It started when I was 11 and first started secondary school. I was just an average kid, not clever or dumb, fat rather than skinny. But I was always criticized for something, either by my parents, my friends or teachers. I was always put down. After being told you are bad at everything and made to feel like a failure constantly, you begin to believe it. The words felt so strong, I felt like I was horrible, disgusting, selfish human that needed to be punished for letting the world down. That is when I began self-harming, as a way to make it better.
This habit continued throughout my teens and into my adulthood. I never ever felt good enough for anyone. I just about got through school and college. My IQ is not very high at all, yet I pushed myself and put so much time into getting high grades to make my parents proud. I did good, in my own standards, probably a bit mediocre to everyone else, an A*, a few As, mostly Bs and two Cs throughout school and sixth form. Though I felt like I scraped my place, I got into a decent university, which is the best thing I have done. I'm currently at Cardiff University, in my third year, studying history.
My depression has, however, been a large problem here. In my first year, I had to go home for a month because I was so depressed and lonely. My self-harm had become a real problem. Every time I got drunk I came home and harmed myself where no one could see, and it got to the point where I needed to feel safe, which was home. I went home and saw a doctor who put me on some medication and signed me off for four weeks. I spent some time at home and started feel a bit better in myself, so I decide to go back for Christmas, as I knew people would start asking questions.
This is the thing with depression -- it makes you a liar. You don't realize it, but it does. People ask you every day, "Are you okay?" and you always reply with, "Yeah I'm fine," even if you're really not. I disappeared from university for four weeks and told numerous lies, which even the people I told them to don't know. I completely panicked at the time and told some bullsh*t pile of lies. I said I had tummy problems, relatives were ill, basically anything I could think of, so I wouldn't have to say I was falling apart. I know it's horrible and I regret it, but I had to leave, and I couldn't think of anything else to say without sparking too many questions. But for me, it really does highlight how ashamed you can feel about telling people the truth about mental illness.
I got through my first year, but my second year was harder. My friends I lived with let me down. I opened up to both of them about my depression, but neither cared. They were so wrapped up in themselves neither would notice if I'd spent days in my room. A few times I'd try to talk to them about it, but they didn't really care. Whether it was because they didn't know how to deal with it or didn't want to deal with it, I don't know. Either way, I was left alone while they were best friends and living life. It was a Monday night, and I was on my own and just thought I'd had enough. I wanted to end it. I cried myself to sleep, and in the morning I knew I wasn't safe from myself in Cardiff. I needed to go home and be with people who cared if I lived or died. So I packed my car up and drove home. I told two different friends the truth, who were really great about it. But I couldn't expect them to fix the completely broken Emma that was in Cardiff -- I knew I needed help.
When I got home, I saw the doctor who changed my medication to another type, which also helped me sleep, as insomnia was a big problem. She then signed me off for three months with depression. I spent time at home, in bed and just tried to surround myself with people who could make me happy. However, it wasn't enough. Things got really bad one day, and I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed for hours. I can honestly say the only thing that stopped me from ending my life is the fact that my 15-year-old brother would find me, and I could not do that to him.
How close I'd come to ending my life scared my very much. I went back to see the GP and she referred me to the Community Mental Health Team. They specialize in mental health issues, such as addiction, depression and all sorts. I did feel completely crazy when I first went. I had psychiatry and psychological assessments and I have now been diagnosed with severe depression and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. This was only diagnosed two weeks ago, so this battle with depression is only really starting now, which is very sad.
Only now am I being treated. They are figuring out my meds and offering therapy, which could last up to two years, to try and fix my broken mind. No one knows about my mental health issues, and I am very good at hiding it. Faking smiles, fake laughs, concealer under my dark circles and cuts in unknown places. On the surface, I'm bubbly, confident and fun, there for everyone else. But on my own, I fall apart. It has gotten to a point where I've realized that I cannot play this game anymore. I need to be who I really am behind closed doors for people to understand and help me get better. It has taken me nine years to realize this, which is too long.
Robin William's tragic death has given many people the opportunity to speak out if they want to, as depression can affect anybody, famous or not. People feel like they can't speak out because of others judging them, yet when someone is tragically beaten by their depression, people ask why they didn't ask for help. It takes a lot of balls to write something like this, or speak out, so let's try and make depression less of a taboo and allow those suffering to feel confident enough to confide in those close to them without consequence or rejection, please! Sometimes by offering a cup of tea, or some company, you could be saving a life. People need people, whether we like it or not.
Have a story about depression that you'd like to share? Email email@example.com, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.