Not many people know about this but now I am ready to talk openly about my mental health. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder at the age of 17 and I have been self-harming since the age of 13. When I started self-harming, I didn’t know what depression was or what it meant. In school, no one taught us about mental health issues and how to deal with them. I had seen some articles online about people sharing their experiences with depression and anxiety and I related strongly to them. I did some more research and found ways to cope and advice from people who have it too.
First, I talked to my mum. This was one of the hardest things for me and I know to many people the thought of telling your parents you have depression is terrifying. I was one of those people but when I told someone, it felt like a weight had been lifted. My mum was so supporting, understanding and she suggested I should go to the doctors.
The first doctor dismissed my feelings as stress from school and they told me to talk to my parents and that there was nothing they could do. This experience really upset me because it felt like my feelings and thoughts were not being taken seriously. I was determined for someone to listen to me properly, so I booked another appointment and the second doctor was fully understanding and told me it was depression. She referred me to a mental health clinic and I was given anti-depressants along with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
Not many people realise how much depression and anxiety can affect your daily life. For me, I couldn’t face going to school. I stayed home a lot and missed many classes. It made me fall behind everyone else and struggle with exams. It was hard for me to even leave my bedroom most of the time. I just stayed inside, and this affected my relationships with other people too. I stopped socialising with my friends, I became worse at replying to messages because I didn’t want to talk to people and ultimately it strained our friendships. Depression made me more irritable and I would get annoyed at the smallest things which ended in arguments with my mum.
I started to get paranoid that people were looking at me and talking behind my back, it felt like everyone hated me and, in my head, they were making fun of me. I though my friends had a secret group chat without me and that they were excluding me in their plans. I became a lot more paranoid and when I talked about it with my mum and the doctor it was relieving to know that It was a common experience for people who suffer with depression and anxiety.
Talking about my depression and anxiety has really helped me learn more about mental illnesses, myself and my friends and family. My friends were understanding, and some suffered with it too. My mum educated herself and so did my friends. They asked me how I was and if there was anything they could do to help. They felt bad that they didn’t know but hiding it was a coping mechanism. We talked about it and it felt good to have someone relate to and understand my problems.
I learned more about mental illness and it is much more common than I first thought. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. (mind.org.uk)
I still have depression and anxiety disorder but now I am learning to cope and live with it. I am still taking anti-depressants, but my life has changed a lot in the space of 3 years. I passed my A-levels and I am now studying at university. I feel happier with myself and my friends are still supporting me. I haven’t self-harmed in over a year. Everyone should know that depression and anxiety do not define who you are as a person. You should never be ashamed of your mental health.