First of all I want to apologise for the length of this post. I am also including trigger warnings : Discussion of self harm/depression & suicide. For a very long time I’ve been debating about whether I should talk about this on the blog in more detail or not. It’s an extremely personal post but I am not ashamed. It’s me.
Mental health has a lot of stigma attached to it. Taking antidepressants is frowned up but most of us don’t think twice about taking paracetamol for a headache. People still don’t really understand it. Just the other day I saw the hashtag #justgoforawalk on Twitter where someone was suggesting that people suffering from a mental illness aren’t really ill. That they just need to go for a good walk. You wouldn’t say that to someone with a broken leg or cancer, so why say it to someone with an invisible illness. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Depression is very real. Anxiety is real, and it can ruin lives.
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
― J.K. Rowling
My first wave of depression started when I was 15 and continued until around the age of 21. You go through a lot of different emotions, feelings and experiences during that period of your life. Exams, leaving school, starting college, more exams, more leaving, possibly going to Uni, entering the big world of employment, moving away from home, family, relationships.
I struggled to cope with a lot of those changes and pressure so I turned to self harm. At first I didn’t even know what I was doing was classed as self harm. It was just scratching and picking my skin. But it was, and I quickly become obsessed. It was addictive, and I started to take more risks. Taking it slightly further to see just how far I could push it.
By this point I was failing college, I’d lost most of my friends because they didn’t understand and I shut myself away from them. I didn’t tell people, I once made the mistake of taking off my hoodie in the college cafeteria, forgetting I’d worn a t-shirt which meant my arms were out. As I rushed to put my hoodie back on, thinking no one saw, I could tell by the looks on their faces they did. No one said anything.
I thought I did a pretty good job at hiding it and looking back I did to some people. I hid it from my mum for quite some time. Instead of talking to people I knew I actually spent my nights online talking to others going through similar things to me. It was good to know I wasn’t alone. I was in various MSN chat groups, anyone else remember those? They weren’t places that encouraged it, more the sort of place you could discuss how you were feeling. A bit like an online therapy group. I’m actually still in contact with someone I met in one of those groups.
When my mum eventually found out, she forced me to go and get help. I was put on antidepressants and sent to CAHMs. However they only deal with you until you are 18 and I was almost that. But I didn’t want to get better, I didn’t seek out any other form of counselling. However I carried on taking the tablets, I found they helped for a while, but I was still self harming and getting more self-destructive. I was still at college, there were parties and night outs. I would get stupidly drunk, binge drinking was the norm. Everyone drank way too much, it’s part of the reason I don’t drink now.
Yes, I am made of scars – Stone Sour
Alcohol was another just another way to self harm. I would drink so much I couldn’t walk, I’d be sick, the room spinning. I didn’t even like the taste, it was just a way of trying to fit in with everyone else. A way to feel like I was normal. Drinking made me feel great and terrible at the same time, it definitely wasn’t a good state to be in. I will admit I did have thoughts of ending it all. I was about to drop out of college, my life was a mess. What was the point in it all. No one would miss me, I didn’t have any friends.
Luckily after speaking to my online friends they talked me out of it. But those thoughts were still there. Today is #WorldSuicidePreventationDay which you can find out more about here. The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The theme for this years day is connect, communicate and care. By writing this post I hope that it shows that you can get through this. Talk to others, seek help, you are not alone, people do care about you even if you think they don’t.
Since then I’ve been to see another counsellor and I did feel better for a while. I still have scars on my arms and legs, little reminders of my past. I used to hate them, hide them under long sleeves, cardigans, trousers. But not any more. I’m proud of them, they remind me I can get through anything. Lately my anxiety has been getting worse, I’ve been picking up on little signs that my depression is slowly creeping back in. I’ve not been going out as much, I’ve lost interest in pretty much everything I liked doing, blogging included. So this is why I have a doctor’s appointment booked for next week. I’m terrified of what they are going to say but I need to do it. I’m not on my own this time. I have a loving partner and a daughter who I didn’t have last time. I need to get better, for them.
This is a fantastic post. I have found a wealth of information like this from another blogger who writes about her mental health issues and I found it made me a much better support person when a family member was depressed. It came out of no where but I knew not to say all the ‘helpful’ things that would have been my nature reaction. I also knew what to look for. Those well hidden signs. So thank you for sharing a difficult post, and know that there will be people out there who read this and down the track get something from it. As for you, don’t be scared of the dr, they are paid to help you. They work for you. And look, by your own words, in your youth you didn’t want to get better, but this time you don’t want to even go back there! You’re doing everything to get better. So high five yourself because look how far you’ve come!!! #KCACOLS
Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m glad you have been able to help your family member out by spotting the
signs. I hope they are ok now.x
I have battled with my own issues over the years so I am so proud of you for having the courage to share, and in doing so, make mental health an issue that should be talked about, not hidden. I pray that your appointment will go well and you will be able to get yourself back to a happy place again soon. Your recognition of the signs and also your courage to take decisive action and do something is a really encouraging sign that you are determined to beat this! I am glad you have a supportive family too, who care about you.
I hope you turn a corner soon. Thinking of you. Jane #KCACOLS
Jane recently posted…The ‘real’ Jane Taylor revealed: 25 shocking facts about me
Thank you so much for the lovely comment. I’m sorry to hear that you have also battled with your own issues. It seems most people have these days. My appointment went well and fingers crossed I’ll be feeling better soon. x
A really brave and honest post! I’m so sorry to read what you have been going through. However, I think that it is great that you now recognise the signs and that you are going to get help for it. Big hugs #KCACOLS
Thank you. I really did debate for a while about posting it, but I’m glad I did.x
It’s good that you are being proactive and noticing the signs. I hope you feel better soon lovely xxx #KCACOLS
You’re amazing for sharing this – thank you. Mental health has a massive stigma attached and you’re right – no one would say those things about physical illness, so who knows why it’s ok to say it about mental illness. I developed PTSD, depression and anxiety after a sexual assault a number of years back and I will never forget having a panic attack at work and my manager telling me “pull yourself together and get back out there because those people need you” (I was a 999 call handler). I left that job because of the lack of understanding of what was a very real illness, which makes me sad because I really did enjoy it.
Anyhow, thankyou for sharing and I really hope your dr appointment goes well. It’s great that you know and recognise your own triggers and have the courage to action what you need. You’re doing a great job xxx
Thank you. Wow that’s terrible that your manager said that to you. It’s such a shame that people don’t see mental health as a real illness. I really wish it was different. x
A very powerful and important post. I wish there was a way to diminish the stigma and increase understanding of all mental illnesses. The fact that you recognise your symptoms and are reaching out to your doctor is good to hear, I hope you manage to ease your symptoms very soon. x #KCAKOLS
Thank you. I really wish there was too, I guess if people talk about it and share their experiences it helps. x
I have never experienced depression myself (with the exception of a few bad days here and there), but one of my best friends is depressed so I can totally relate to this post knowing her struggles.
I am so sorry you go through this and I hope you feel better soon. My friend felt a bit better after getting two cats, maybe having a pet helps? 🙂
Such a brave post and I’m glad you’re able to talk about it. I hope others find the courage to open up and seek help. #KCACOLS
This is a great post, thank you for sharing your story. I am sure with the support of your partner and the love of your daughter you can beat this again.
What a brave and honest post. The fact that you can recognise the signs of it creeping back in and take a proactive approach just shows you have the strength to get through it. I hope reading this will help give others the courage to open up and get help if they need it too. Thanks for sharing this 🙂 #KCACOLS
Thank you for sharing such a difficult post. Our eldest struggles with anxiety, it can be all consuming for him. Xxx #marvmondays
It really can. It’s also very tiring, which seems a strange thing to say. I hope he is doing ok. x
You are really brave and courageous for sharing such a difficult and personal post. Thank you for doing it though. I really appreciate your insights into what depression feels like and how you notice the signs. I am proud of you (which sounds patronising given that I don’t know you at all – sorry!) for spotting the signs of early depression this time and for taking proactive steps to do something about it. Good luck. I will be reading your updates and willing you on. Pen x #KCACOLS
Thank you so much for the lovely comment. My doctors appointment went well so *fingers crossed* things start to improve soon.x
Well done writing that and booking an appt for next week. I don’t hide my scars anymore either they remind me how frickin awesome I am and that even though I thought I was shit, I never was. Keep talking Ky. #KCACOLS
Aww thank you so much. That’s exactly how I feel about my scars too.x
What a beautiful post. The emotion of you experience is felt throughout and I’m glad you can detect the symptoms as they creep in.
These are the real deep stories that shape us into who we are.
My cousin ended it because of depression and I wish he would have found the groups and support you had in your dark days.
We need more posts like yours to make people aware at how traumatising this illness can be for the individual and the family if it’s left and ignored #KCACOLS
Thank you, and I’m sorry to hear about your cousin. Sadly it’s quite hard these days to find the sort of groups I found as most of them have been closed down. People seemed to think they did more harm than good which is a shame. As they really helped me. x
Such a beautifully honest post, thanks for sharing it – so glad you’ve been able to pick up the signs in the earlier stages and hope you’re feeling better very soon xx #KCACOLS
Thank you, I had my doctors appointment this week so fingers crossed I feel a bit better soon.x
Oh I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this lovely, it must be really difficult to cope with. I’m really glad that you are getting some help and also recognise the signs. Lots of love to you xxx #KCACOLS
Thank you xx