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I’ve written this piece for Blurt so that others can see it is ok to talk about mental health. I hope people can see that even being at rock bottom you can get back to having a life – a life you want (because you choose the life you have). I’ve been at rock bottom and now I’m starting, very slowly but surely, to get back a life. But not just any life – a life I want/a life I’m choosing to have
I was diagnosed with depression in early 2011, although I had been regularly seeing my GP for low mood, lethargy, not sleeping (all of the signs of depression) since 2009. With hindsight I can look back and see that I’ve probably suffered from depression since I was 15/16 (I’m now 23).
I don’t know what started the depression at all. I don’t remember being particularly unhappy at home or at school, but I also don’t remember being very happy either. My home life is the same now as it always has been – my dad has never been around and still isn’t; we move house regularly; I live with my mum and sister; I regularly see my Grandparents. My school life wasn’t any different to what I class as a ‘normal’ school life – although I was slightly bullied, I had many friends; I was doing ok with the work load and grades; and I was in the school sporting teams.
Depression doesn’t just happen – it’s not a case of one day you don’t have it and the next you do. It creeps up on you. Although I don’t know the exact cause, looking back I can see how much my depression has affected my life. School – my grades started to slip, I wasn’t putting as much effort into homework and coursework, I found myself not enjoying things as much, I didn’t go out with my friends, I stopped running and taking part in outdoor activities – I used to be part of the school’s hockey, tennis, rounders and running teams. I felt bad for giving up on sports but the wanting to take part was overshadowed by thoughts that I wasn’t good enough anymore – I didn’t want to be the person that held the team/school back from gaining achievements.
During AS- and A-levels, I spent no time with my ‘friends’ – they weren’t really friends anymore, more like people I hung around so that I didn’t look like a loner around school. I still didn’t take part in any sporting activities. My enthusiasm in my chosen subjects was low – I didn’t bother to background read subjects anymore; and I gave up trying to understand them. I had no motivation when it came to coursework or exam preparation – as a result my grades slipped further. I started comparing myself to others (and to my previous self) which only made me feel bad. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I wanted to go to university to study Food Science. I managed to scrape my grades to be accepted at a university; however, I had to study Nutrition and Food Science as the university were concerned about my lack of knowledge and interest in Chemistry – totally understandable!
At university my mood, interest and enjoyment in everything had pretty much diminished. I partied hard just to be ‘normal’ and fit in. The only thing keeping me going at this point was knowing the fact that if I completed university I would be the first one of the immediate family to have done so – my thinking was that by completing university I might feel I had achieved something with my life and maybe feel ‘normal’. Wanting a break from studying I decided to take an industrial placement year for my third year. I worked at a drinks firm as a Sensory Scientist. At first it made me feel that zest for Food Science that I once had when I was much younger. But that enjoyment soon faded and I did the same thing that I had been doing at university – doing just enough.
After working I didn’t particularly want to go back to university – all the other students in my year had graduated whilst I was working. I still wanted to achieve my degree so I went back. Nothing went right – I didn’t understand any of the lectures and I didn’t really get on with people. So I partied hard, really hard. I ended up not attending lectures or doing any of the necessary work to pass my finals. During my final year I was to-ing and fro-ing between university and my hometown – mainly to continue seeing my GP regarding my depression. Everything took its toll, I hit rock bottom and I broke down. The university told me that they didn’t want me there, and my housemates didn’t want me living with them. I managed to persuade the university to allow me to complete my course from my hometown. Imagine the surprised look on my mum’s face when I turned up on her doorstep with all of my belongings saying that I was home for good with only a month to go until I was due to finish university! As it happens I took an additional 6 months to finish university, but I did gain the degree I so desperately wanted
After coming back home I was at rock bottom for months, and my GP referred me to a mental health team, where I was assigned a CPN, and diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). My CPN helped me to open up. I always kept things to myself, so to talk about things was really hard at first. And then I ‘found’ Blurt, and I have a mentor who I talk to about all sorts of things – the good, the bad, the ugly. My mentor seems to understand me (I don’t know how as I often go off on very random tangents!) and has helped me to open up even more. I do still find it incredibly hard to talk. I prefer to write, but even then I do A LOT of editing and re-writing before I allow people to read what I’ve written. Take this piece I’ve written for Blurt – I’ve had it written for about 2 weeks – it’s taken numerous edits and re-edits and so much courage to just send it for them to put on to the website – but it’s done now, no going back!
A couple of months ago I was referred to another team for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), with the hope that further psychiatric therapies could be useful afterwards. Whilst I’m waiting for the referral to take place and to start CBT, I have learnt to fill my time constructively. I bought myself a Labrador puppy last year – the best thing I’ve ever done – and Mae needs A LOT of mental and physical stimulation. I bake often. I can’t say my passion is the same as it once was all those years ago but it’s gaining momentum. I have also started running again, and have even signed up to take part in Blurt’s runitout event!! Thanks to my mentor I have started up a blog – I mainly blog about foods I’ve made including recipes, but I also randomly ponder on there too. And I’m still regularly in touch with my mentor.
I now have lots of plans for my future, and find myself constantly writing ideas down on paper and spidergramming – something I wouldn’t have thought possible even just a few months ago! I still struggle very often but I try to keep my positivity up with my new coping strategies. I now think the plans I have for myself are better than the ones I had when I was 15/16. My future is starting to look better