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YOUR VOICE: Diagnosis

Diagnosis.

Wow. That sounds really serious, doesn’t it? This story isn’t going to be, don’t worry. Not really anyway.

I suppose it is serious though, isn’t it; being diagnosed with depression is a pretty monumental event in life, no matter how many times it happens, or whatever else happens to you. But hopefully this will show that event can be a marker, to show how far you’ve come, or how well you’re doing to just keep going.

I was sixteen(ish) when my doctor told me that I had depression. I’d gone in to see her talking about rapid mood shifts, moments of severe anger and questions regarding my relevance to the world and to the lives of people around me.

Around this time, quite a lot was going on in my life; exams, being a teenager, the breakdown of my first ‘proper’ relationship and, worst of all, my nan passing away. So I was a bit of a mess to be honest. This manifested in quite a few different ways:

I’d drink, quite often sneaking horrible spirits from my parents’ drinks cupboard. This was my first experience of gin, and also of port. They had a lot of port; thick, gloopy, horrid port, but I’d chuck some in a glass and neck it back anyway, before school, lunchtimes, before going to see my then girlfriend and sometimes in the middle of the night. I (kind of) remember one occasion where I’d got home from school and gone straight into the cupboard, then, swaying my way round to her house, laughing I thought, ‘this isn’t bad really, maybe this is the way to do things.’ Needless to say, it wasn’t the way to do things. I got inside and sat down in her living room, and it immediately turned on its head. Then it started to spin around and I rushed upstairs and vomited all over the bathroom. By this point I’d realised that I’d made quite a mistake. I hurriedly tried to clear up the mess before rushing out the door and heading home.

Sometimes when my girlfriend was at my parents’ house I’d leave her downstairs or in my bedroom, lock myself in the bathroom and fill the sink with cold water, then thrust my head under and hold it there until everything went silent. Then I’d snap back upright and have a word with myself for being so melodramatic.

Oh and my ‘MySpace’… Genuinely, I don’t think anyone can have been more pleased than I was when MySpace deleted all of our profiles. In fact, I want to go on record and say thanks Tom; for removing all evidence of my heightened teenage angst-ridden breakdowns. I’d change song lyrics to blame my parents for how I felt, I’d bang on relentlessly about how awful my life was and then share some, frankly, bloody awful screamo songs that really spoke about how I felt.

The doctor didn’t give me any advice: ‘Stop posting that rubbish’, ‘you really want to drown yourself in your parents’ sink?’ or even just, ‘it’ll be okay.’ She just clammed up and handed me a box of antidepressants. I walked home with a cloud hanging over me, then my parents drove past and picked me up. They asked me where I’d been and, then, what the doctor had said to me. They attempted to give me some advice. Basically it was ‘don’t take them.’ My mother is famously unsympathetic and has on countless occasions told me that I ‘have another one’ if I’ve hurt my leg, arm, foot etc. But she tried (notice I said tried) to be sympathetic that day, telling me that I was probably just being like any other teenager: Moody, melancholic and hormonal.

After that chat, I read the side-effects of the tablets and decided that I’d take my chances with being moody and hormonal. That box sat in the top of my wardrobe until the day I moved out of my parents’ house around eight years later. But I’ve been diagnosed on more than one occasion since. Those side-effects still scare me into carrying on, battling my way through. And if that skinny, melodramatic teenager managed to make it, then I’m pretty sure that this skinny, melodramatic twenty-something can aswell.

@DavidHandley

Medication isn’t for everyone! But it can be incredibly helpful for some people. If you need to talk to someone, click here; if you’re worried about someone, click here.

photo credit: Morning Routine via photopin (license)

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