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I am going to start from the beginning, even though when I was first affected by depression I didn’t know it. I was 15 and had just started my final year at high school. I was very happy at the time but by the November my world started to crash around me. I became disinterested in school, my mum and step father split up, by older sister left the family home, my ‘friends’ turned on me and my boyfriend broke up with me. My perfectly happy world had changed on me.
That’s when it started. The feeling that you have no control. That life is black and cold. But I couldn’t let this affect me. I needed to concentrate on school and help my mum around the house. All these feeling’s I had got pushed to the back of my mind. That is until I was alone. The crying was the worst. As soon as I was on my own I would be in floods of tears. I would cry so bad that my chest hurt. It wasn’t too soon after this that I began to self-harm. It felt like the only way to stop the tears coming at night. With all the things going on at the time I felt I had no one to turn to or talk to. It still haunts me now to think about how helpless and in despair I felt. As time went on and the winter of 2008 turned in to the spring of 2009 I started to feel better and more like my old self. I finished school with 12 A to C grade GCSE’s and went on to sixth form. I had a very happy 2 years there and gained two C’s and a B’s at a-level.
On the completion of my a-levels I was accepted to study at Leeds Metropolitan University starting in September 2011. In the summer before university I took on two part time jobs and began a relationship with a guy. Things were fine until after about a month together where the relationship became physically and mentally abusive. Now I like to think I am very strong minded and that I wouldn’t take crap off no one. But I was too scared to leave the relationship. So I stuck it out knowing that I would be leaving and moving to Leeds.
As summer finished I packed up my whole life and moved 150 miles from my small town in Shropshire to Leeds. My fresher’s week was the usual drunken blur of meeting new people and beginning life living on my own. Those first 2 months were amazing. I didn’t have a care in the world. Until reality hit me. I was far away from my family, I wasn’t connecting to my uni course and friends that I had made didn’t like uni and left. It started again. The loneliness, the helplessness and the aching feeling inside. The depression was back. And it had hit me 10 times harder than the first time round. I was fine when I was hanging around with friends. But it was when I was on my own. Living in a pokey little room in student halls started to get too me. The not-sleeping was hard. Staying up till 6 am and sleeping till 6pm will do no one any favours. But for someone with depression it’s just asking to make the illness worse. I kept thinking off all the things I had gone through- leaving my family and friends, staying with my ex till I went to uni, saving all the money. And for what?
I eventually started self-harming again. In a funny sort of way it helped. As a kid whenever I felt a negative emotion, such as embarrassment or sadness, I would clench my fists as hard as possible and focus all the bad feelings on the pain of my nails digging in to my palm. I count this as one of the reasons for me self-harming. It helped in the way my mind was off the depression, even if it was only for 10 minutes or so. The sadness went on for months, even going home for Christmas and being around my family again, I just couldn’t shake it off. And my family mean more to me than the world. But I couldn’t tell my mum, she had enough to worry about, without this. This is when I started to realise that yes, there was something wrong. And not just feeling a bit ‘down’. I started to research in to depression. Staying up all night reading stories on the internet and silently nodding along with all the symptoms I read about.
After Christmas I returned to uni hoping that a fresh start again would help me change. But it didn’t, if anything this is when I was at my worst point. I thought if spending time at home with my family and coming back to a fresh start couldn’t make me happy then nothing will. I missed a huge amount of uni and the thought of catching up terrified me. So instead, I continued to do nothing with myself. There was nothing to look forward to or get excited about. My best friend had obviously noticed something was wrong and when she asked that was it, all the tears, all the pent up frustration came out. Just telling someone helped me clear my mind. For a little while. I still went for about a month or so saying nothing more.
There was one night when I finally cracked. We’d been out for a friend’s birthday. Once I came home I was still a bit drunk and I don’t know what happened. But I felt like that was it, I couldn’t live like this no more. The next morning I rang my mum and cried down the phone to her for an hour. I was at my lowest point, I didn’t want to feel like this anymore thank god she took the time to sit and listen. She gave me exactly what I needed. The knowledge that I was going to be okay and that she loved me. After I to spoke to my mum, I took my iPod and walked round the city for about 4 hours straight. Listening to music I use to enjoy and coming up with all the good things that are in my life. I realised I needed professional help.
I went to visit my local doctor. Who was so very kind and helpful. Just knowing that someone, who is a trained professional, believed me lifted the weigh off my shoulders. I was prescribed with 10 mg of citalopram, one to be taken every day. I was also told to seek out counselling to tackle my depression both ways.
That was back in March 2012 and it is now October. My recovery has been a long and hard process. But I finally feel I am totally back to myself. I had a short course of counselling at my uni which helped me tremendous amounts. It helped to identify where I was struggling and what I could do to prevent it. I still take my medication every day. I may feel better, but I don’t want to risk it just yet. When I find peace within myself I will consider stopping taking them, but until then I will carry on with the pills. One of the main things what helped me get better was talking about it. I’m not afraid to tell anyone about my condition. I can’t stress enough to people that talking about it helps you recover. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You get the good with the bad. The majority of people have been so helpful and kind about it. But I have had the odd “you’re just in a bad mood” or “it’s not a real illness”. Instead of getting upset, I am more than happy to educate those who don’t understand that depression is a very serious illness.
So that is my story of how I was affected by depression. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me. Especially my mum, family, friends, Leeds met uni counselling service, Leeds met uni and my teachers.
If you’d like to follow Mali on Twitter, she’s @malilewis