This is my first experience of writing about my experience of depression and anxiety so I’m going to apologise in advance if I begin to ramble. I’ve always had quite low self esteem which probably stems from childhood when I was diagnosed with ADHD and had to take medication to help me concentrate in school. In hindsight I know this made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and that I needed medication in order to be a better person. The constant feelings of inadequacy made me fiercely independent and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t ask for help even when I need it most, as it makes me feel like I have failed when I should be able to deal with the situation on my own.
The first symptoms of a deeper problem began when I was about 11, when I began self harming as a way of punishing myself for my perceived slight for not being good enough and being a disappointment to my friends and family. I was too young to fully understand what I was feeling at the time and although the feelings and behaviour continued, they didn’t intensify until I changed schools and went into a new Sixth Form. One of my relatives passed away just before I changed schools, and coupled with the stress of a new school and a few negative experiences early in the first term, my spirit was crushed and I lost control of my own thoughts.
I struggled with my grades throughout the rest of sixth form, with my mental health suffering as a result, never once asking for help even from my closest friends and family. I was pressured into University by my school but after the first term I dropped out. My anxiety had got so bad that I wouldn’t leave my room or eat for 2 days straight, and I couldn’t face going back to lectures. Needless to say, dropping out of uni didn’t do wonders for my self confidence.
I fought a running battle with my condition over the next few years, which I have no shame in saying I lost at the beginning of 2015. I hadn’t realised the sinking feeling that was creeping up on me, and before I knew it I was in the worst bout of depression I have ever experienced. For over five months almost every waking moment was shadowed by this inescapable feeling of failure and worthlessness; that I was too weak to deal with problems that a lot of other people face every day, and that I deserved to feel like this.
Eventually, I opened up to some of my closest friends and I’m glad I did. I’m lucky that I’ve managed to surround myself with some truly excellent friends who reassured me that even though I might hate myself for how I feel, they didn’t think any less of me for admitting it. At points I felt like I didn’t deserve to have anyone there to talk to, but I was always grateful that when I needed to talk to someone I had that opportunity. Facing these feelings alone gives the beast that is depression more control and power over you and although it’s hard to accept at the time, how you see or think of yourself isn’t indicative of how other people see you.
I’m now at the point where my immediate family and majority of my close friends now know about what I thought was my greatest flaw, and whilst there are still days where I struggle, I have the support around me to push through. I’m looking to go into therapy as well and although the prospect can be intimidating to think about, I’m looking forward to tackling the problem head on and taking back control of my life. I urge everyone who feels the same to reach out for help – whether it’s to friends, family or to CALM. There are services out there. You don’t owe it to anyone, including yourself, to suffer in silence.
If you have experienced any of the issues mentioned in this article, you can call the CALM helpline or contact CALM webchat to talk to our specially trained staff about anything that might be getting you down. Calls and webchats are free, confidential and anonymous, open 5pm – midnight, every day of the year.
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