I want to tell you a bit about me and my story. It’s a long one, though, so I won’t be doing it all in one post, I would probably bore you all to sleep!
As far as I’m aware, I suffer with depression and anxiety. I say ‘as far as I’m aware’ because I do have other quirks about me that I’m not entirely sure what they relate to, and I’ve never been actually diagnosed with anything else so far.
I think I had suffered with this for a long time, but obviously as a young teenager you don’t really think about things like depression and at the time it wasn’t as spoken about as it is now; especially not to a 13 year old.
It was only really when I got to about 18 that it actually hit me what it was. One of my friends had recently been to a doctor and was prescribed antidepressants, and it was only then that I realised that this was never something I had thought of before. I would never have considered that I had depression, and that’s why I would feel so down all the time, that’s why I would sit in my room on my own staring into space, feeling completely numb. Maybe that’s why I didn’t want to talk to people as much anymore, and why I don’t feel like doing anything, not even the things I’d enjoy doing. I mean, it was hard enough just to get out of bed in the morning, so doing anything else was far too much like hard work!
At the time, I was living with my Dad and it was just me and him. Although he was very rarely there. During the week I would be sat in my room alone and sometimes would literally sit in there for hours with no TV on, no music, no laptop… nothing. Just silence. A lot of the time I wouldn’t even really be thinking about anything, I would just sit, feeling entirely numb. I didn’t feel in control of my own body.
At the weekends I would go out with my friends and drink copious amounts alcohol, which would only fuel the depression even more. I would make a fool of myself, I would make stupid mistakes, and the next day I would sit in a pit of self-loathing, looking through hideous photos, cringing at the night before, and only surfacing when dinner was ready before climbing back in to my pit and falling to sleep. Then, of course, the weekend after I would do it all again.
When I left school, I went to college to study Art & Design. I loved art, and from being young I would always be doodling and painting, and I was actually really good at it. However, not many people were very supportive of this choice. I went to a different college than my friends, so they weren’t happy. I don’t think my Dad ever understood it, I don’t think he could really see what I would be able to do with that once I went to get a job. People would mock me for being “just an art student” and imply that I was basically too stupid to anything else but “colour in”. Anyway, after the first year I quit. People had got into my head about it not getting me anywhere in life, and my heart wasn’t in it anymore, I didn’t feel good enough so I left. This is something I’ve always regretted.
I took a year out and worked full time, to figure out what I wanted to do. I went back to college after that year to study IT & Business (I know, fun right?!). During my time at college, my depression had declined. It was a real struggle to get up in the morning, and if I did, it was an even bigger struggle to get through a whole day. There were a lot of days I wouldn’t go in, I couldn’t. Because it was such a struggle to get through the day, I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t get my work done in college time, so I found that I would get more done at home which helped when I had a lot of work to do. My Dad started realising that I wasn’t going in a lot, and I think my excuses to him were wearing thin, sometimes I would tell him we weren’t in that day, sometimes I would say that I wasn’t feeling well. It was easier than having to explain what was actually going on, and I didn’t feel like I would be taken seriously even if I did. Eventually he stopped believing my excuses, and he contacted my tutor to ask her to let him know any time I didn’t turn up.
He never came to me. He never asked me. He assumed I was being lazy and couldn’t be bothered to go. It hurt. Now I felt forced into pushing myself to do something that was just so difficult some days and I thought that even if I was honest with my Dad, he wouldn’t believe me anyway. The depression grew worse.
I think a big reason why that upset me was because, he was never there. He was barely at home, and a lot of the time I had no idea where he was; no one did. He had a drink problem, and was fighting his own demons, I know that, but isn’t that more reason for him to understand what I felt?
He was mostly just angry with me, he thought I was lazy and inconsiderate. He would drink, and he would tell me he wanted me to move out – by text, always by text – for the most ludicrous things like, me spending too much time at my Mum’s, or me not doing enough to help around the house. I mean, who kicks their child out for visiting one of their parents “too much”?
This happened a lot. I would pack up a few things and move back in to my Mum’s for a while, until I’d get another text telling me I could go back. This happened several times between the ages of 16 and 20, until one day when I asked for a little bit of help with money and I was asked to show my Dad my bank statements. I was told that if I didn’t do this, then I didn’t live there anymore and that was it, I think that was the final straw for me and so I moved back in with my Mum with the intention of it being the last time I ever did, and it was!
At the time I had started my foundation degree, and was working part time. My Mum and Stepdad gave me 2 months to find my own place. They persuaded me to quit my degree, and work full time so that I could afford to move out. I did quit my degree (another thing I’ve always regretted) and tried to get work full time. I saved up a bit of money over the 2 months and I viewed a couple of flats, which were absolute shit holes. It got to the end of the 2 months and I had to move out, except I had nowhere to go. That didn’t really matter, it wasn’t fair to my sister. Of course, it must be really difficult having to give up some space in your bedroom for your sister who is practically on the verge of being homeless, having been rejected by both parents – I can see how that must have been really tough for her.
Anyway, I ended up moving in to my boyfriends parents’ house and sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor of their dining room. As much as their son (my ex) was a complete narcissistic arsehole with me (there will be more on that in a later post, I’m sure), I am forever grateful to his parents as I don’t know what I would have done at the time.
When I look back and I think about things now, I think all of this affected me a lot. From the outside I had a good life, my Dad always did quite well for himself and had a nice house, he would buy us things and some of my friends actually thought I was quite spoilt. So, on the front of it all, everything seemed ok but underneath there is so much to this that I haven’t even scratched the surface.
I think the reason this affected me, in particular, is because up until about 2 years ago when I moved in with my partner, I have never felt like I’ve had a home. I’ve never belonged anywhere, and I’ve always felt like nobody really wanted me around. I’ve lived with that feeling for a very long time, and I still do. I still feel like a burden on everyone, and I still feel like I can’t do anything right. I worry that my partner finds me difficult to live with, and I find myself asking him if he’s happy even though he doesn’t give me any reason to think otherwise – I just need that reassurance at times.
The reason I started off with this part of my story is because this was my tipping point. This is not necessarily what started it, I think it started way before this, particularly the anxiety/social anxiety side of things. However, this was when I started to realise what was wrong with me and this was when it started to get really bad.
What do you think was the thing, the time in your life, or the moment you realised you suffer with mental health?
I didn’t get help for a long time, even when I realised what was wrong, so if this is something that you are realising now please try to get help sooner rather than later. Also, don’t be afraid to tell people around you. Although it still has a stigma and it is still widely misunderstood, it is better to try and explain how you’re feeling to people around you, rather than hold it in and push them away. I have learnt this the hard way, and you never know, people may be more understanding than you’re giving them credit for.