Jay, 23, Cheltenham, UK

“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.”

You can follow Jay’s story on his instagram and twitter.



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