I am Rachel and I am 19. I have depression and anxiety. I have had both officially for two years now but have had sad feelings for most of my life.
I was ill at first with glandular fever but afterwards, I was sad all the time. I was lonely, closed up in my head and my thoughts would not stop talking. There was nothing I could do with my the voices that would tell me I am worthless and I do not deserve to be alive. I would doubt my school career, my life choices for the future and worry constantly about disappointing my parents. The thoughts would overwhelm me; the tears would never end and I always had a headache. There was nothing in the world that stopped these feelings. Then I felt numb. There was no emotion inside me. I could not emphasise with someone or even communicate rationally with someone. My mum would think I was rude or going through a teenage phase. All of this accumulated in my mind as meaning that I was abnormal, that there was something innately wrong with me. People would ask me, “why are you not happy?”, and they could not understand the thundercloud of desolation surrounding me.
I would self-isolate. I would be too scared to go to the cinema with my friends. I was self-conscious about everything, I could not complete a presentation in class. And I would spend days curled up in bed with no one talking to me; I would look into space. There were moments when tears would stream down my face for no reason. I could not eat proper meals. I would not eat for days. I would smoke too much to calm myself. I would faint every time during a night out due to the combination of alcohol and sleep deprivation. I would sleep sporadically or too much. And I could not contain my rage and would argue with my mother all the time. There were so many things that left me alone. I just could not tell anyone. I was not normal. And eventually, this led to self-harm; just little regular cuts to my left arm.
This all led to a breakdown before AS exams. I was stood in the queue for a public exam and I had a panic attack, the school had to notify my parents. Then, I was taken, rather forcefully, to the GP. I was assessed every month and eventually was put onto Fluoxetine, which kept under control the innate sadness but never fully removed the feeling of low self-worth and isolation. I was recommended counselling but in the end I decided that therapy was not for me. That being said, if you are living with depression and anxiety, there is a good chance that counselling could be really good for you. Just a few days ago I read this upskilled counselling guide and I learnt that online counselling is now growing in popularity. I think this is so much better than having counselling sessions in person and it if was available for me when I needed it, I definitely would have given it a go. I think that if you are going through a similar situation to what I went through, it may be worth trying. For example, a friend of mine who lives in Canada has been doing some research into ARC Counselling Vancouver as a way of treating her anxiety. Ultimately, I suppose it is all about doing what feels right for you.
My best friend through all of this was my doctor. He was supportive, patient and understanding. I was lucky; not all doctors are patient or caring. He had my best interests at heart and he saved me; I would feel comfortable telling him about my past month and that is what everyone with a mental illness needs.
My boyfriend accepted me. He never questioned anything but would accept every day as they came because he loved me. I needed him daily; he was my whole support system. I never knew it but I took advantage of that. Everyone who has a mental illness needs someone like him; he was amazing because he was so open minded and calming.
I still struggle nowadays. At uni, I am alone. I do not have my boyfriend or my parents looking over my shoulder. However, it is making me stronger because I know that I need to look after my mind. My brain cannot always be in control because then I am not happy; I need to be proactive and keep healthy. It is not something I would wish on anyone but I have learnt that I need to take my life into my hands and do what makes me happy every day, even if it is just reading a chapter of my favourite book or making pancakes.