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I’ve been depressed for years. For most of my life actually. At school I always felt different from other kids, which I suppose made me a target for bullying. If that wasn’t bad enough there was always trouble at home as well. My parents were always rowing about money (my dad gambled a lot), and then my mum discovered he was cheating on her and she filed for divorce. I was only about 12 at the time
I suppose the depression started then. It wasn’t a teenage phase I was going through, as my parents initially thought, The mood swings and depression continued for years and my life seemed go downhill from then on.
As I said, I was bullied at school, and I believe that that’s the major cause of my depression. It certainly gave me reasons to have a low opinion of myself. Throughout my teens and twenties I was full of self-loathing and this intense feeling that I was just not good enough.This made me really insecure and afraid of life and led me to stop trying to pursue my dreams and any career goals. I was really sensitive too, which isn’t a bad thing as it makes me a caring person, one who is empathic towards others. But back then, I thought I was weird and I hated myself. I couldn’t stand being so different. I wanted to be like everyone else. So I started drinking. I drank to stop myself feeling nervous. As an introvert, I really hated socializing. I hated people looking at me. I just felt so uncomfortable and hated drawing attention to myself. I never knew what to say to people. When I drank I became more social and just didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I thought that it made me more confident.. Maybe it did, but drinking is never the answer, as I soon came to realise.
I soon got involved in a few messy relationships with blokes that were on the path to self-destruction, just like I was. I just didn’t want to live anymore. I drank too much, and with every drink I hoped I wouldn’t wake up the next day. I felt unloved. I felt that my life was going nowhere. And selfish as it may sound, I just didn’t care anymore.
Because of the bullying I had left school at 15 without any qualifications, which led to years of unemployment. Then every time I tried to pick myself up and go forward, something always came along to hurl me back to square one. Nothing ever seemed to go right for me and I became more reclusive and depressed, drinking more and more.
Over the years I’ve had counselling for my depression and my alcoholism, and I stopped drinking 14 years ago. Somehow I found the strength to do an Open University degree in Literature and begin pursuing my dream of becoming a writer. But the depression won’t leave me. It’s still there and comes and goes. I can get really down for days, not wanting to go out, avoiding people, not answering the phone and staying in bed.
I wouldn’t really say I hate myself now. Not like I used to. In fact, I’m happy with who I am. It’s a part of growing older, I suppose. But self-doubt does still creep in from time to time, usually when I have some sort of setback in my career or personal life. I then withdraw into myself and begin to feel that maybe I just have to accept that I’ll never be good enough at what I do (I’m a writer). But then the dark cloud soon lifts again and I can be almost normal for a few weeks (whatever normal is), but still sad and anxious most days. My fear of crowds and going out is still with me, but I think becoming more manageable. I am still moody. I don’t think that’ll change. It’s just a part of me, though I do try not to let things get me down too much by trying to think more positive thoughts. But it’s not that easy.
I’ve been taking antidepressants (Citalopram) for 3 and a half years now. They worked at first, but then I lost my dad two years ago, and even though my GP increased the dose, I was still really depressed. I couldn’t cope with the grief and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
But then I decided to rescue a kitten. I had wanted a cat for a long time, having had one years before. I am a real animal lover and just love being around animals, especially cats. They calm my soul.
I got my cat Athena from a local animal shelter as a kitten in July 2011 and she has helped me a lot. She’s my little soul mate – so affectionate and always cheers me up with her silly antics.
I may have rescued her, but I honestly believe she rescued me too.
You can follow Marie on Twitter here. Has your pet helped you?