by Harry McArthur
It’s been over a year now since I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety by my GP. It was a really scary time, and also my first personal experience of having mental health issues. I’m going to try and explain what I went through to hopefully help people who are currently battling mental health problems, and let them know that life gets better and there is always a way through it.
I found it especially hard to come to terms with the fact that I could be clinically depressed. I had worked my whole life to ensure that people around me were happy, whilst trying to convince others I was happy as well. I have always had a deep rooted self-loathing however, and this was always a cause for concern in my head. What really confused me is that the people I have had around me; friends, family, other peers, were, and still are, fantastic people. I do really appreciate the people I have in my life and my mental health issues were solely down to me.
The real trouble began for me when I left home for the first time. My family has always been great to me, covering most of the simple things in life for me that go unnoticed at times; the cooking, cleaning, washing and all these little things we sometimes forget to appreciate.
However as soon as I left home it kind of hit me that I had to fend for myself. It was hard and the fact it was so constant started to stress me out. Then came the money. I now had to pay for food, rent and all other things I required (I was adamant with my parents I would provide for myself throughout uni).
I felt like a fish that was let out a fish tank and into the ocean. The change of life was drastic and hit me really hard. Thankfully the people I had around me, my new roommates and friends I made through my sports team, were all great. It put all these stresses to the back of my mind. But come November I just got really overwhelmed.
Assignments started flying in, I had taken on a lot of extracurricular activities, and all the stresses started piling on at once.
I had started consistently going to the gym for the first time in my life, but hadn’t made the progress I had wanted. I went from disliking myself to hating myself and this is when things got really bad for me. I stopped thinking rationally, stopped eating consistently and tried to cut my time interacting with others. I think the best way to describe the way I felt was lost. This was what made it so incredibly hard to feel better, because I couldn’t understand what was wrong.
From here things just got from bad to worse. I started convincing myself everybody else hated me as well. I had effectively cut out all positivity in my head, and looking back I can’t understand why. The horrible thing about mental health issues is people don’t understand what they are going through. Speaking personally, I would have a small negative thought and from there would batter myself mentally. It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life; I had an ever-present feeling of sadness that I just couldn’t shake. By late January I had stopped sleeping and would instead sob and be stuck with my own thoughts for hours on end.
At this point I messaged my best friend, they were the first person I was completely open with about the situation, and they recommended I go and seek medical assistance. I felt so bad and really didn’t want to. It felt like I would be taking up time that someone else needs. But looking back on it I think seeking help saved my life.
Across a few weeks I had eventually been set up on anti-depressant medication and had been put in contact with a counsellor. This was great for me. I was able to open up and the counsellor listened. Although most of what I said probably never made sense, they listened regardless and for that I am still extremely grateful.
After following this process for about three weeks, whilst keeping on top of extracurricular activities and my education, I had a really bad turn. For some reason all the hard work of getting better evaporated from my mind. I still don’t know what the problem was, looking back, but it was horrible. I was sat in my room crying and just sent my best friend a message apologising. I had never been in such a bad state as I had been in that night. I had felt my hands go numb from shaking and for the first time in my entire life I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I was sick and fed up with how I felt and just wanted it to be over.
Thankfully my friend who I had messaged had contacted one of the people I lived with and messaged one of them explaining that my text had been alarming, as by this stage I had stopped using my phone. I don’t want to go into too much more detail on that night, as it was the most horrible experience of my life, but in short one of my friends came to the door and said that they cared. I was in such a state that I couldn’t respond but they kept on talking. It was nothing in particular, they just kept talking, and eventually I let them in the room and nothing happened.
I have wanted to get my story off my chest for a while; it still burdens me when I think about it. I feel guilty as people I love and care a lot about were really upset, but this makes me appreciate them so much more. I want people to know that mental health isn’t something that can be fixed easily. It took so much time for me to feel comfortable with life again.
Sometimes with depression or anxiety you won’t be able to understand what the problem is, because the person that is suffering more than likely doesn’t understand their issues themselves. In most cases I would recommend being there for the person when you can and even if all you do is listen, you will have done that person a world of good.
Help is out there, through counsellors, medication and many other methods. You just need to be brave enough to go out and find the help. The one thing that I can assure you is that someone loves you and there are millions of people who care.