I think I started feeling depressed quite young.
My parents didn't believe in depression. Seriously.
They didn't believe it is a real thing. So obviously, they didn't help me when I said I was depressed.
To them, it's just feeling a bit sad and anyone unable to pull themselves together was pathetic. I'm not sure what my mother thinks today, all these years later. I know that my father finally experienced it in his final year of life after being diagnosed with cancer but we didn't discuss it further.
By that time I had consumed, and continued to consume, a lot of drink and drugs, having started at 15 years of age, and four or five years later, when he died, I barely spoke. Yet still, nobody helped.
I had been kicked out of the house at 16 years of age, lived in bedsits on benefits and barely ate. Nobody helped. At one point I was a walking skeleton and had to have three operations for a condition developed due to lack of food. Nobody investigated why. I got involved in illegal business activities in order to eat. I was good at it, and I lingered in it for years, getting enough money to eat/ pay bills and drink, but hating myself more and more as time went by. I had taken events into my own hands and would do anything not to starve again.
Alcohol eased the pain of the condition as well as the mental anguish of living a life like this. Of course, I wanted to die. I didn't care if I did, but somehow I survived that period.
By 21, my brain was smashed by drugs - LSD and marijuana specifically. Marijuana is not good for your brain. Not in certain people. I've known people to lose their way and end up killing themselves because of drugs.
So I gave up the drugs, although it took a while to convince myself that was the best idea. I carried on smoking long after I had smashed my brain up. It can't have helped.
Then there was the alcohol. I was never an alcoholic. I’m talking about social drinking and binge drinking.
For ten to fifteen years I drank almost daily to avoid the pain, loneliness and regret I felt although i wouldn't class myself as an alcoholic. It felt good to drink with friends and kill the anguish. I had a lot of panic attacks. I would find myself unable to breathe, or think clearly. Alcohol would help. As long as I could start drinking before the panic started I could relax myself, but the pain was always there nagging me. The years of drinking only served to avoid the problems, to distract me from the truth of situation.
I knew the underlying pain was there and I did everything I could to ignore it. I often wanted to kill myself but instead, I'd drink to forget; I'd desperately look for a fun time so I could numb the pain.
I couldn't work; I couldn't socialise properly; All I could do was avoid the pain of truth - how much of a failure i felt.
Many people hide behind 'social drinking'. I see it all the time. I barely partake anymore. Only sobriety could help me tackle the issue I faced for so long. I gave up drinking after a particularly heavy 6 month session.
I had gradually built a resistance to drink. I would drink 5-8 pints, throw up and carry on. I didn't feel drunk anymore. I just felt on a level for the whole 6 months. The drink certainly numbed the pain but it was no solution to the problem.
The problems of depression and anxiety are best faced sober. I don't see the point of drinking anymore. These days I strive to achieve things professionally if I can, without the crutch of stimulants. Illegal activity left far behind, I have completed a degree and am trying to find work in the creative industry. During the twenty plus years of my depression, I've been so down, so lost, so lonely, so dead inside, so many times, but you have to fight these things with a fury. Fight to put yourself right. Fight for the day when you can see a light in the future. The miracle doesn't find you. You have to find it.
It's hard. So very, very hard. But there is a way out of the darkness if you take things step by step. Go and see your GP and ask how to break the depressive cycle. Seeing the doctor and talking about having depression is the first step. And it felt good to finally admit it after twenty years of suffering and denial. From there on in, I found myself dealing with depression better. There's still a way to go, but life is a journey and I feel that it's worth seeing it as far as you can.
You must always make it better for yourself, without guilt, without self loathing and without feeling you're not worthy. Everyone is worthy of help and support.
Finding a way of dealing with the condition is the key to enjoying, and living, your life. It's not such a stigma anymore and most people will understand if you're honest about your doubts and difficulties.
There is a bright side, and it does get better. As long as you hang on in there and fight the negativity, positivity will come.