“I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since 2010 but only had a diagnosis of it since March 2018. I can remember when it all first started. First, it was a bad day, to a bad week, to a bad month to being black all the time with the occasional day or week of being happy. I suffer from depression and anxiety. Having all this occur at the end of school was hard, it was a distraction that led me to flunking my exams as I didn’t see past what I wanted to do at college. I got bullied at school for being different, which affected my self-esteem and confidence, I just didn’t feel like I was worth it. My first year of college was extremely hard, my anxiety and depression increased, I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t understand at the time why I was feeling the way I was, I didn’t know that all this was depression, I thought it was normal to feel like I did. I had a good loving home environment so nothing should be wrong.
I left college to pursue an apprenticeship, this would turn out to be one hell of a year, the year that drove my depression and anxiety higher and higher due to being emotionally abused by a co-worker. Eventually, I got let go as there wasn’t enough work to keep me on. In 2014, 6 months after this I had my first major operation. This took its toll on me. I had to stay strong for my parents but inside I was breaking even more. 5 months later I enrolled onto another college course to get into university to study education. This would turn out to be the hardest year of my life. One which I really realised what I was going through, that I properly had mental health problems. There were days I just didn’t want to do anything, eat, sleep, get out of bed, and leave the house. It got to the stage where I didn’t want to live any more.
But I pushed myself to go, to look normal. That nothing was wrong with me, as guys shouldn’t have the issues I was. I felt I couldn’t talk to people about what I was experiencing, I didn’t want to be a burden, I had and still do have trust issues. I battled through the feelings of anxiety, the suicidal thoughts I was having on a daily basis when traveling to college. I finally started to achieve, I got a dyslexia diagnosis at the age of 20 and this boosted my confidence a little bit. I got into university in 2015.
However, I still battled through the difficulties my mental health brought at the start of university. It all got a bit too much couldn’t sit through lectures without wanting to run away and have a panic attack. I couldn’t shift the thoughts that I wasn’t good enough to be there, that I should just drop out. I started talking about my mental health to friends. This helped see where I could be going wrong. They told me to see a professional about it all, but I was too resistant, too scared to acknowledge that there was something massively wrong with my brain.
It wasn’t until November 2017 at the start of my third year that I reached out to the counselling team at my university. This has been the hardest but best thing I have done. Opening up and talking about what I have experienced has helped. It helped show me where things have come from, why I am experiencing what I am. It helped find the real me again… I still find it hard to open up and not feel like a burden but those are bridges to individually tackle when I am ready to.
One way which has helped me keep on top of my head is taking up rock climbing. I just feel so focused when I’m 10 meters up a wall. It makes me focus on the joys of life and the problem in front of me instead of 20 made-up possibilities on how life could end up. The satisfaction of get from doing something my head told me I didn’t is great. I like challenging myself. Running, the most clichéd sport I can mention helps too, it can take my mind away from the thoughts your head creates and makes you just forget. Sport is now like a drug to me, I couldn’t live without it.
Now, 7 years on since it started, I am far better. I allow myself the depressed times I have, I know these are natural and even if they last a long time I know why. I know this is something I will battle with for a long time, but I know with reaching out for help I will be able to keep going.
As mentioned at the start of this post, I’m now diagnosed. With this, it means I can get so much more help that i could ever before. Before diagnosis i was very anti-medication due to the stories I’ve heard about bad side-effects you can get. but since being on them i couldn’t be happier, yes the first load made me feel terrible but that doesn’t matter, all I care about is the ones I’m on now help. They really help.
For those reading and fighting battles, keep at it, and your time will come. Find a hobby that distracts you for a few hours and embrace those feelings of contentness. For those who are reading these to get understanding for a friend, keep being that friend. Keep showing them they matter and you love them. Try and help whatever way you can, I can assure you that no matter the smallest thing you do it means a million times more than you can ever think, the cuter the better, even if there is no romantic feelings involved, it makes us feel loved and wanted.”
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