How depression has affected me
Not many people would realise that I have suffered from depression and that it is in fact a battle I fight every day. Most people think I am an extremely happy person but I´m just used to acting as if everything is fine.
Ups and downs
The GP I´ve been seeing says I am classed as unipolar but I´ve got bipolar tendencies. I now am taking anti-depressants to try and boost my mood up as I have bad mood swings from low mood to high mood.
Normally I can predict it a bit, but when things are really stressful it can switch all of a sudden. I´ll be happy one minute and then in a ball on the floor crying the next. Other times it´s something in the middle – a black pit feeling in my stomach but in my head I feel quite happy.
Dark shadow behind me
My depression is like being in a huge, big, dark film with all these dead trees everywhere. I feel like I am walking through it and there´s always some dark shadow behind me. It´s always there and I am trying to get away from it but it´s always at my neck, trying to get to me.
I get this huge feeling of feeling sick and self loathing and I just hate everything about me but at the same time there is this other part of me that´s saying `don´t worry, everything´s ok and you are a nice person.´
Poor body image
I am so self conscious about my body that I always think everyone is looking at me and thinking how fat and ugly I am and that they don´t want to know me. I think people are going to hate me as soon as they meet me.
Difficulties making friends
You get a bit paranoid and then of course, because you´re a bit standoff-ish other people are standoff-ish with you. It´s a vicious circle because you don´t form a relationship and the thoughts flare up that everybody hates you because you can´t form a relationship properly with anyone.
Because I am mood swinging, sometimes I am absolutely fine and I don´t care about how much I´ve eaten and I can eat loads and it doesn´t bother me and then other times, I´ll eat the normal amount but I think that I´ve been a pig.
Not deserving happiness
I feel I don´t deserve to be happy and whenever I have been happy for a long period of time, I have always felt strange and not myself. After a while I get used to it, but at first I keep wishing I was depressed again because it is so difficult to let myself be happy. I always feel like the only thing I deserve is to feel depressed.
I did have suicidal thoughts when I was younger but not recently. I hate being this way so much that sometimes it used to make me want to die as I couldn´t bear the thought of living my life this way.
I self harmed from quite an early age – I used to scratch myself to feel the pain and comfort myself as I didn´t know what else to do. I thought it was completely normal to feel that way and that everyone else scratched themselves, because it felt good to me.
I would go into a sort of trance and sometimes not realise I was doing it, until afterwards. It is relaxing; a bit like when you have a massage or something like that; the same sort of relief. Later on, sometimes I´d cut myself.
Thoughts of death
Sometimes now, if I am really depressed, I might think about death but there´s a difference between having thoughts about death and having suicidal thoughts. You might think about death as a relief without actually wanting to harm yourself or kill yourself.
I´ve had a low mood since I was about 7 years old when my dad first started having problems with his job. He was angry a lot of the time and blamed you for everything. He wasn´t really violent, but he could sometimes be too aggressive and pin you down or something. He would never hurt you just scare you, but of course those thoughts stay in your mind for a long time.
He would just take his anger out on you and make you hate yourself. He shouted at me – he did seem to take it out on me more than my brother. I used to feel really stupid around him and felt that everything that went wrong in his life and everyone else´s lives was my fault.
Bullied at school
Then I started to put on more weight and at school I started to get bullied for that. It was like a vicious circle – I put on even more weight because I was getting bullied. Also I was quite smart and I was bullied for that as well.
I did comfort eat quite a lot and my dad would stare at me eating and it would make me feel really uncomfortable, so now I have a huge big obsession with how much I eat.
Brother more favoured
My one brother loves sport and I am the least sporty person; so I always felt I was a let down to my dad. He´d always spend a lot longer looking at pictures of my brother in his football outfit, than of me with the cat or something not particularly exciting to him.
Never good enough
My father always expected me to do the best at everything. Even if I did really well in school and got a B, he´d say `Why didn´t you get an A?´. Yet he always used to be proud of my brothers for getting average grades.
My first proper boyfriend, when I was 16, was my 26 year old college tutor. I suppose I was just flattered as I´d had so many self-esteem and confidence issues, but it was a horrible relationship. He was completely controlling and he knew he could make me do whatever he wanted me to do because I wasn´t a very strong person at the time.
I never wanted to have sex with him but always had to whenever he wanted it. I could be crying all the way through but he just wouldn´t care. It turned out he´d been investigated about an issue with a primary school child when he was a bit younger, and he had pictures of kids and things.
Tainted sexual experience
That was a really big thing I had to go through. I felt dirty and disgusting because the first person I´d ever had sexual contact with was basically a paedophile – it made me feel really sick, but I was too scared of him to leave at first.
I feel so guilty because I felt like I was a paedophile as well because I´d been with him and I´d done nothing at all about it even though there was never anything I could have done. He still lives in my area and I have warned people, but they don´t listen.
Affected my thinking
It took me ages and ages to get over everything with him. I didn´t realise how much he´d messed up my head. I couldn´t be late anywhere. He´d always want me to be on time and so after that I´d always have to go somewhere early and if I was going to be late, I´d get really panicky and worried.
Huge impact on my self worth
My depression made me think I should go back to my ex because I thought that´s what I deserved – to have someone treat me like shit because I am such a horrible person that for the rest of my life I should be unhappy.
Parents also depressed
My parents both suffer from depression and when they hit their lows they are not themselves. I used to be scared of my dad for years because I didn´t know if he was going to be in a good or bad mood. I remember hearing his key in the lock and not knowing what to expect.
The thing is, he is a great dad when he is in the mood but instead of accepting his depression and moving on from his problems, he takes it out on everyone else. Instead of crying, he wants to still seem like a man, so he lets it out in anger and shouting
I don´t think people realise the effect it has on you when someone´s having a right go at you and making you feel so small and insignificant, as if you are the shittiest person in the world.
Family attitudes to problems
My dad really needs to go and see a counsellor or something, but he won´t do that because he thinks it´s a huge weakness. That´s why he doesn´t like it when I talk about my depression with him. He knows that some of it is his fault and he can´t deal with it. He just gets angry at me or he´ll walk away. My nan, his mother, is the same. She just tells me to stop crying, there´s nothing to be crying about.
We´ve got money problems because mum´s way of fixing her depression was to go and spend. She spent loads of my dad´s money and she´s rubbish at handling finances. My dad blamed her totally for their money problems, even though he didn´t do anything to help.
Impact of parents´ difficulties
Throughout my parents´ relationship, they tried to put on a front that they were ok but you could tell they weren´t and they´d have tiffs now and again and the house just had this black feeling. It felt heavy. It never felt like a home. I always used to feel homesick. I´d be at home but I wanted to be somewhere else that felt more like home.
Parents split up
My parents are divorced now. I said to my dad one day `Stop having a go at me; the real person you want to have a go at is mum,´ and that kicked it all off. I suppose I was just waiting for the day when I wouldn´t have to be treading on eggshells any more, knowing that they were going to split up and that´s it.
Accepting the depression
My depression is something I want to get rid of and I know that one day I will be able to, but some days when it is so bad I just don´t see how I can live with it. But I have accepted that this is a part of me and it´s something I need to learn to deal with.
Appreciating the small things
I´ve found ways to cope with it such as always remembering that there will be an end to each episode and to appreciate the small things in life. I´ve tried to always do things that I enjoy rather than trying to please everyone else.
Talking to someone
I always tried to talk to someone when I felt very down, even if it was talking to someone over the internet. Sometimes I found this easier as they didn´t know me. I didn´t like people knowing I was depressed because I thought they would all ignore me.
With the problems at home recently I´ve had counselling to help as well, because I needed someone who didn´t know me to talk to.
I was always so ashamed of the depression, but now I don´t care. All my friends now know that I suffer from it and I take anti-depressants and I am going to be starting CBT. They know that´s me and I am trying to get through it.
Having good friends
It was good to have friends around me, even though I did not have many they were always good to be around.
From about 5 years old, I´ve always sung if I can´t express myself properly. It does help even now to let out my emotions and express them exactly how I feel. I sometimes dance as well; or paint. Writing poetry, or a story or song, helps me express myself through a different medium and understand exactly how I´m feeling and what I´m thinking.
Acting has helped because I could be someone else without being scared to act how I wanted to be or exactly how I felt. It was a good escape and the praise you get from other people just boosted my esteem. Also as I was expressing my emotions more the burden of them was not as dominant and didn´t control my life.
Thinking my emotions through
I would always like to think about why I feel the way I do to help me get over the negative emotions, as if I just avoided them I would make myself worse.
Even when everything has seemed dark and horrible at the time I have always tried to remember that things would get better and that depression is a temporary state. Even though I knew it would most likely come back, I always knew that it would go away at some point as well.
Tackling self harm
Now I know that I can´t help the fact that I get urges to self harm, but I know I don´t need to do it so I try to find something else to do, like sing. A good thing I´ve also learned is to paint on yourself – what I liked about self harming was the look of the patterns of scratches and cuts on my skin. Painting onto myself, I still get nice patterns on myself but I don´t need to harm myself to get the same sort of relief.
I´m starting to get a grip on my depression now. I want to get through my depression because I don´t want it holding me back for the rest of my life – I´ve let it hold me back in the past because that´s what I thought I deserved. I´ll probably never get rid of it completely, but I know how to have a good life with it.
What I´ve learnt
Learnt not to blame myself so much
I have felt so guilty – like I was a paedophile as well because I´d been with my ex-boyfriend and I´d done nothing at all about it – but there was never anything I could have done; I was just in a bad situation and I did the best I could…
Learning to allow happiness
I am getting over the idea that I don´t deserve to be happy a bit now; I like being happy. I don´t enjoy being depressed and I don´t see why for such a long time I thought that was part of me and I needed to have it there all the time.
Don´t see thoughts of death as taboo
A lot of people don´t understand – if people are thinking about death, it doesn´t necessarily mean they are suicidal. This might be a bit controversial, but I think nearly everyone at some point will have death thoughts to help with some form of relief. With me, when I have the death thoughts, I don´t see that there´s much of a problem with it. It´s something I have to cope with and re-run and get it out of my head.
Learn replacement strategies for self harm
I do understand how difficult it is for people to not self harm because you do sometimes get those thoughts but it is the difference between having the thought and actually doing it. Self harm doesn´t make you feel any better in the long run. It is much better to let out your emotions; have a good cry, do something creative, or if you´re not a very creative person, then do something else like go for a walk or a run.
Learn to like yourself
It´s easier said than done and I have to keep telling myself it, but I think it´s always good to know that as long as you are happy with yourself and you are doing what you want to do and you´re not harming anyone else, then it doesn´t matter if people don´t like you for who you are; it´s their problem, not your problem.
Focus on the light at the end of the tunnel
Even though it may seem difficult and tough when you are suffering from depression the fight through it is worth it. Depression is temporary even if it does last for a long time. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; just sometimes you have to go over some very big scary, difficult obstacles before you get there.
Aim to control the depression
Life can sometimes seem difficult and I may not always want to socialise or do anything apart from lie on my bed but it´s something I can work through. Even though I don´t always like myself and I comfort eat sometimes I know that really I do love life and I do love myself but sometimes my depression just gets in the way. One day I will control and it won´t control me.