Becoming my own person: Opening up about depression and anxiety

I love my family so much, they're one of the main reasons I'm still here fighting each day. But in the past, whenever I've managed to gather to nerve to discuss how I feel, they were never receptive. They just didn't seem to understand why I would struggle to motivate myself to apply for that job, to get some exercise, to go out with friends or to engage in some sort of extra-curricular activity to improve my CV. Things are getting a little better between us now, but they can still get frustrated with my apparent laziness and apathy. I have explained to them that I'm doing my best but I often can't summon the energy when things just seem so pointless and futile.

I still feel pressured to compete with my cousins

I can't completely blame them though, as strange as that sounds. They're very hardworking people, and my dad's family are pretty competitive. My cousins have all gone to prestigious universities, while I'm studying at a far more mediocre institution. They all excel academically, socially, and in sport, and my aunts, uncles and grandparents never let me forget it. Despite the fact they all went to private school and my brother and I went to a state school, I still feel pressured to compete with them. It's probably partially why I tend to feel so demotivated, but I always compare myself to those around me; I always have. It's a habit. So I think my parents, my extended family, and I all have this rather unhealthy mindset of competition and achievement which is why I don't entirely blame my parents for acting the way they do.

I told my parents about going for therapy

It's been a bit easier since I moved to university though. I can distance myself when I feel them pressuring me, and I can be my own person. In October I went to a university counsellor, whom after several sessions of talking to me, sent me to the doctor who prescribed me some anti-depressants and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Being away from home, I managed to keep it all to myself until the therapy sessions interfered with our family holiday over easter. It forced me to overcome my trepidation over how they'd react, but still I thought it best to break it to my mum rather than my dad, she's a lot more sensitive (as most mothers are I guess). She seemed to accept it, especially when I explained that I hadn't just rushed to the doctor hoping for a miracle cure, but had instead sought a second opinion when I was feeling low. Then she told my dad, who in turn, expressed his concern, especially that I'd started to take anti-depressants given the possible side-effects etc, which is a fair concern. He soon made his peace with the way I'd handled it though.

For the first time in my life things seem to be on the way up

Now several weeks have passed and our relationship is no different to before, except the feeling of being liberated, and no longer having to hide how I feel from my family. I'm still struggling, but for the first time in my life I feel like I can handle it, and things seem to be on the way up. Soon I might even be...wait for it...happy!

I still feel a bit worried that my potential future employers may discover that I have these problems and reject me as a result, despite modern society and laws against discrimination etc, but we have to make a stand. I work just as hard as anyone else and don't let this stuff get in the way, so it shouldn't be an issue.

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Comments

Well done on reaching out for

Well done on reaching out for help on your own and then talking to your family too. It's a tough path we walk but you're doing the right things to keep you from stumbling off. I'm 46 now and my problems started when I was 17. I wasn't diagnosed and suffered in fear. Not sure how the gps didn't have a hint when I look back on it all, my parents neither. Everyone assumed it was only a physical problem I had, not the excruiating anxiety that accompanied it. Sometimes our loved ones don't want to see the truth for a lot of different reasons but it doesn't mean they don't love us. Well done, and you're not alone. X

Reading this, I don't think

Reading this, I don't think you're lazy, I know myself it can be very hard to perform as others say we should and I think you are doing your best. My parents used to have the mindset of comparing me with others and even said they wish they'd had children like them instead of me. Over the past few years though they realised just how adversely this affected me and the lack of belief I had in myself. They now wish they hadn't pushed me so hard. I think a common misconception in society is that if you don't achieve as much as others you are less of a person as a result, and I think that excludes a lot of talented people from society who could otherwise do something valuable. Not achieving academically doesn't make you less of a person as you will still have a role in society. I know of a lot of people who unschool their children (google unschooling if you're interested). They are not concerned about their children gaining academically but some unschoolers make money out of their interests even as children so traditional educational routes are not the only way to do well in life if it's not for you. More important than academic qualifications is one's mental health. There are a lot of people who are well qualified, got well-paid jobs but are unhappy and their mental health suffers, and they are too unhappy to enjoy the money they earn. I'm not saying that university isn't the right thing for some people and I hope they do well, and I can understand that given the competitive society we live in some people may think they're doing the right thing getting their children to perform but all I'm trying to say is that if you ever feel that university is not right for you or that you want to do something that is seen as less prestigious, that is ok too. I know I might come across as a bit opinionated in this comment but I just want everyone to feel that they are valued whether or not they achieve academically and whatever they want to do in life. I'm glad you find the therapy you are receiving helpful and if ever you want to talk about anything, please feel free to add me on facebook.

You only need to make YOU happy, not your family.

So glad you are getting help. I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life too. There is hope. You can do it. You dont have to be like 'everyone else'...You be the best YOU can be. Read as much as you can- try different spiritual paths. Try yoga, meditation, herbalism....something...Sometimes when I was at my lowest, it was because I was not doing what *I* wanted...I kept doing what everyone else wanted me to do. This is your life. You do what makes YOU happy. I know we dont know each other...but I know that you were put here for a reason. You are going to love life and do great things. Just dont ever give up. <3

Callum's Blog

Admitting it to yourself is the first major hurdle and you're over that - well done! I have suffered depression for the last 25+ years and only admitted it to myself about 12 years ago. All that time I was so mean to myself, beating myself up for not being cheerful, not being happy. I hated myself. I still have bouts of it, but now I know what it is and how to deal with it. Having a supportive partner helps, but you're right about family, I have still never told mine about it. Good luck with the CBT, I found it helped enormously.

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