Friday 14 October 2016

My Journey with Depression

Lottie discusses her personal mental health journey, and how depression affected her time as a student.

-Lottie Thomas

To understand a person’s experience with depression you need to understand their circumstances. Everyone’s struggle is different and they find different ways to deal with it.

My journey began with my transition to uni (which was always going to be a hard one as home is such a great place for me). First year was a struggle for me but I was so happy to have completed it and was excited for my second year to begin. My depression crept up on me without me realising it, I got homesick a lot in first year so when I experienced the same feelings again I just thought I would get over it. I spent a lot of time crying on the phone to my mum telling her how much I hated my room and how noisy our neighbours were. I felt like I had nowhere I could relax and I was always on alert for something to happen. I didn’t want to tell anyone how I was feeling; I thought ‘other people have it worse than I do so I should just suck it up and get on with it’. 

Simultaneously to this, my twin sister had just started first year at university after a gap year and was really struggling. When I wasn't on the phone to my mum I was texting or answering phone calls from her and I felt like I was being pulled in all sorts of directions. Eventually I got the phone call to say that my sister had decided to leave uni and this was the first chink to my armour. Knowing my sister was at home and I was struggling on, 4 hours away, made everything so much harder.

When I was home for Christmas I was so happy, but soon I started revision for my exams in January and I started to feel the pressure again. Second year exams contributed towards our final degree mark so I felt extra pressure to get it right.

I was worried about going back to uni, and didn't think I would be able to cope with exams but I kept these feelings to myself. The turning point for me came on Christmas day when I woke up with this deep misery inside me. I couldn't stop being angry with myself for being so selfish during such a happy time of year and I couldn't understand why I couldn't snap out of it and be grateful for what I had. Before we even finished unwrapping presents I made my excuses and escaped upstairs, lay on my bed and burst into tears. My sister and mum found me and I finally told them how I was feeling. My mum reassured me that this was something we could deal with and that she would book an appointment at the doctors, however, because we were going on holiday the next day it wouldn't be for a while. 

The next two weeks were the toughest I have ever lived through. I cried every day and continued to worry about my exams and returning to uni. I started looking into dropping out of uni and my thoughts got darker and darker. I spent most days in bed and when I did get up it felt like I was dragging around this heaviness that I couldn't shift. Feelings of worthlessness began to creep into my subconscious and I became increasingly withdrawn from everything and everyone around me and suicidal thoughts began to rear their ugly head.

What happened after the holiday is a bit hazy. I got in contact with my university and they granted me mitigating circumstances so I missed my exams and took weeks after that to recuperate at home. Following an initial doctor’s appointment, which I pretty much cried my way through, I was sent to see a psychiatrist who eventually diagnosed me with having depression and anxiety. I was placed on anti-depressants and had several sessions of cognitive-behavioural therapy.  It took me 10 weeks to get back to uni and after a hard internal struggle I managed to complete second year.

Living with depression is in no way easy, but learning to deal with it can change everything. This is my journey with depression, and everyone's is different but all I can say to those going through anything be it depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue, do not live through it silently. Plucking up the courage to admit what you may be feeling is so hard but it is a huge first step and the most important. Just know you are not alone and will not be judged for how you feel. 

1 comment: