‘What do you have to be depressed about? You have family, friends, looks, health, a job. It’s the perfect existence.’
A question I and many others that suffer from depression are routinely asked.
Why do we have to justify our reasons behind this crippling mental illness?
My life has not been, nor is it, picture perfect.
If you look through my social media from my younger years, and once you’ve filtered through the cringe, pointlessness and general crap, you will see the depressing statuses. The cries for help. Or the cries for attention as everyone would tell me.
‘If you were really depressed then you wouldn’t want anyone to know’
‘It’s pathetic how far you will go for the attention’
As I’ve stated in previous posts, my depression stems from self esteem issues and bullying so my looks have been a personal sore spot for me. Hey, they still are. But when I was younger, stupider you could say, more influenced by others opinions and comments about my looks and weight, then it was far worse.
This is me at 16. I’d already been diagnosed with depression, was trying to play off the fact I was alright before going home and cutting myself. I’d been hospitalized after one failed suicide attempt and had lost 3 stone because I didn’t think I deserved food so I wouldn’t eat unless it was with the family (my mam was hawk eyes when it came to me eating dinner). I wasn’t anorexic, I did eat, it was just once daily. I survived on chewing gum, diet coke and an extreme smoking habit. 90% of my weekly calorie intake was the alcohol I would binge on on a Friday night after being dragged out the house to keep up appearances that I was getting better.
Also me at 16. Comfort eating had replaced cutting. Still binge drinking. Completely hating myself. My weight had sky rocketed. I was pushing size 16/12st. I felt vile. I looked vile but food was my main comfort.
All this happened within a few months. This was my depression taking over my life, my mind, my body. Ruining me slowly until I decided to take control.
I got help. The NHS counselling is good if you’re willing to open up and let yourself be vulnerable. I wasn’t. The thought of telling another person, out loud, that I hated my own body because others had made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be happy because I was fat.
I spoke to friends. I was on medication. My weight stayed high. I was still fat but I was happier. My relationship ended. A new one began and I was happy for a few years.
But things change. That small voice in the back of your head gets louder one day, when you’re tired, drained, feeling down and out.
‘Would everyone else not just be happier if you weren’t here?’
‘You know that you’re just the last resort when they don’t have anyone else to go to’
The stupid, irrational thoughts aren’t irrational anymore and you believe that, yea actually, maybe everyone would be happier without me here. You think of the bad, the times you’ve made people upset or angry and the next thing you know, you’re crying and there’s blood running through your fingers. You don’t really remember where you got your blade from, that stash you kept ‘for emergencies’ (seriously man, what rational person has an emergency stash of razor blades? Hi, I did). You’re bleeding but you don’t really know what the damage is. How deep have I gone? Am I actually going to have to dress this or will pressure be alright?
It’s not even an addiction. It’s not the thrill of pain, it’s not perverse. It’s the need to feel and pain is the strongest feeling you can cause yourself. An escape from the numbness.
I got help. Again. I didn’t want to go back to that place. That vicious circle of tears, blood and suicidal thoughts.
I’ve been back on medication for several months now and I’m pretty happy. Antidepressants aren’t the be all and end all. You have to put in the work yourself. Change your outlook on life, want to get better, want to improve.
That’s what I did. I did CCBT (computerized cognitive behaviour therapy for those who don’t know the psychology lingo), I took up running and general exercise, I tried to look for the positives and I got rid of the negatives.
I discovered Headspace. LIFE SAVER! 10 minutes out of your day to just sit and breath. Their depression and self esteem sessions are actual life savers and I would sing their praises from the roof tops if I could climb on my roof.
I got more involved socially…. Well, on Twitter and I’ve met some amazing people who have changed my life.
I’ve changed because I was willing to do anything to get better.
I look better. I feel better. I am better. I owe my happiness, my genuine smiles to some of the people in these pictures. To the mother who texts me most day to see if I’m alright and checks my arms if they’re covered up. To the two girls I’ve known for only a few months but have turned my world on it’s head and had me smiling day in/day out. And to the old friends who have stuck by me through tears, mental breakdowns, self isolation and all the other shit I’ve put you through.
Just because my social media looks fine. Looks happy. Does not mean for one second you can judge my past and my reasons for my depression. Self esteem is just the tip of a very big iceberg but it is the most visual one to write about.
Thanks for putting up with my extremely depressing posts recently. I will move on to some more cheery stuff in the New Year.
But for now…. Have a very Merry Christmas and a drunken New Year. I pray your hangovers pass quickly and, if you work in retail, a massive good luck!