Trigger Warning: This blog goes into detail about my experience with depression and anxiety. The contents may cause discomfort or stress to those dealing with mental health issue.
I would like to start this blog by giving you a little bit more information about myself.
I graduated within the top ten highest graduates from my high school. I completed my A-levels with similarly high marks and was granted conditional acceptance to every university I applied to. I have completed four consecutive summer internships with one of my countries largest broadcast news programmers. I graduated from University of Chester with a first-class degree in Journalism with Creative Writing. Two, weeks after returning home, I was working at my first job.
I am also clinically depressed.
While you might take one look at my resume and find ‘reason’ for me to have been diagnosed as having a mental illness, the simple truth is this: there is no check box of reasons for having a mental illness.
No matter income, no matter family status, no matter number of degrees, where your home is or what skin colour or gender you are, mental illness doesn’t care.
I couldn’t tell you why I don’t feel like I deserve to be here. Around the age of 14 I just started feeling like I was a background character in my own life-movie. Days were spent feeling like I was watching everyone else moving forward, reaching milestones and making memories, while I was just stuck on pause. I couldn’t figure it out. I was too stupid to figure it out. I didn’t deserve to figure it out.
Little setbacks felt like being pushed down a mountain. Self-imposed isolation, inconsistent eating habits and sleep-less nights became my revolving cast of roommates.
When I was younger, I thought it could run away from my depression. I worked hard and pushed myself to get the grades I needed to get to university, believing that I had just outgrown my little island home and a change of location was all I needed to cure myself.
I didn’t adjust well. Making friends with my classmates who I saw on average three times a week, felt impossible. As someone who made the choice not to drink, I found myself not knowing how to interact and socialize with those around me. Even in my dance society, where I was voted in by my fellow members as a part of the committee, I felt like the odd man out because I could not share in their stories of late nights on the town together. Like no one would notice if I wasn’t there.
I did not want to come home when I finished university. I left with so many regrets.
I had frequent anxiety attacks throughout the first year at my job. There were days that I spent more time in the bathroom, trying to calm myself down, then behind my desk doing work. I felt as though my coworkers resented me because they were constantly having to pick up the pieces of things I had failed to do. I was sure I was going to be fired. The fear of disappointing my mother lead to nights when I cried myself asleep.
Not because she would be mad at me for losing my job. Rather because I would be mad at myself for letting her down. The women who drove me to every therapy appointment. The women who held me until I stopped crying. The women who would wait until I feel asleep just so she could cry herself.
I’ve always tried to be open and honest with those around me about my diagnoses. I felt my depression is as much a part of me as my brown eyes or my dream to eat pizza for every meal of the day. However, I’ve also always been fearful to go into detail.
I think about the unwarranted stress it can and has caused my family. The nights they stayed awake hoping that they would still be able to see me come sunrise. I think about all the fights we have had when we were trying to battle my depression together but only ended up fighting each other. I think about the fear they had when I every time I’ve told them that I’m was sure how to control my suicidal thoughts.
I think about how my mother said she blamed herself for my mental illness.
At different stages in my life, I’ve seen different therapist. For me, my very first appointment was like emptying a box of two thousand puzzle pieces. After that, for an hour each week, I worked with them to put the picture together. There have been many sessions where I just stared at the puzzle, too paralyzed by my own mind to move a single piece. Other sessions, I walk away, filled with hope, as I managed to shift a few pieces around.
While I was at university, I refused to see a therapist. I didn’t want to be that girl. The girl who wasn’t mature enough to live away from her parents. The girl who just couldn’t do anything. The crybaby. The child.
I just wanted to be an adult. To be independent.
When I came back home, things were no different. I fought with my sister. I fought with my mum. I fought with myself. I was never enough, just how I was.
How I ended up back in therapy and on medication, isn’t my favorite story. At the time, I thought I was going to lose my job. In my mind, I was presented with two options, either get help or get out. This good kick in the butt is what I needed to get me back towards a better relationship with my mental health.
Going back to therapy was easy. Going on medications was not.
Again, I didn’t want to be that person. The person so messed up that they had to take a daily happy pill just to function. It is something I said I would never do. It is something I didn’t feel fully supported in doing. But it was something that I had to do.
Success stories and support from my friends, both in Cayman and back in the UK, helped me to make that choice. My therapist explained the science behind it: the chemicals in my brain that the medication was helping to adjust. I was not crazy anymore. I was a girl who had a part of her brain that didn’t function properly. I was human: flawed and broken but not a write off.
Even as I write this, I feel like I need to leave you with a happily ever. To let you know that some strong knight on a white horse has saved me. To share with you exactly what type of Band-Aid that fixed the boo-boo. To tell you that the monsters under my bed moved away. But I’m not 14 years old anymore and honestly, I know better.
A single knight can’t save a kingdom. A Band-Aid can’t mend a broken leg. And monsters will happily pay the rent so that they can stay exactly where they are.
So, why am I writing this?
I am writing this because I’m proof that bad days, month and even years don’t equal bad lives. I’m writing this because I am proof that because even though a child, teenager or young adult has a mental illness it doesn’t mean that they were not loved or didn’t have people who cared about them. I’m writing this because I am proof that a living with a mental illness doesn’t mean I can’t be a constructive member of society. I am proof that we do have the tools to help those who need it. I am proof that there are treatments and tools out there that make the symptoms of mental illness more manageable. I am proof that you can make your tomorrow.