Depression: I was told I was behaving like a stroppy teenager

I have been diagnosed with depression since I was 16. It took a little while to have a healthcare professional to actually say the phrase 'depression' .

During this time I was frequently told I was behaving ‘like a stroppy teenager’ and pushed aside. The word 'hormones' and 'angst' and others were always repeated at me but I felt like it was different to what everyone else my age seemed to be doing. This diagnosis pushed me to look at it from an adults perspective and, for the first time, I stopped hurting myself and focussed on it from a different angle, trying to look after myself.

When I was 18 I was finally referred to social services for an assessment after being on an acute low and given was medications to help me.

This was really first time I experienced discrimination

This was really first time I experienced discrimination. When I was prescribed medication, I struggled with some of the side effects. As a result of this I took a few days sick leave from work. When I returned to my job I was told that because I had ‘failed to declare it’ on my health declaration form, I would be suspended immediately and would receive a disciplinary. To be honest, I was 18 at the time and didn't understand employment policies, and didn't feel like my job was affected, so I was baffled at why they would use this against me. They upheld the disciplinary, and upheld the appeal and eventually my contract was terminated. Or, for a want of a better word, I was sacked from my job.

This is also the first time I met someone that restored my faith in people. My union representative was brilliant and he refused to let it go. He fought for disability discrimination and the case was settled out of court. I was told the reason for this was because the organisation were worried about any media attention that would occur and I wanted it to end, so I agreed to this and put it behind me.

I continued to struggle with depression

I continued to struggle with depression, sometimes so severely I felt like I couldn't cope with day to day menial tasks. I told myself I wasn't going to let it beat me despite my mind shouting at me to quit, but I carried on; I always forced myself to work full time and push forward. Its conflicting having ambition when you don’t want to get out of bed! Usually resulting in daily arguments with myself but somehow, I struggled along.

Long story short, one thing that has followed me ever since my diagnoses was the stigma and the ignorance surrounding mental health.

I want to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health,

This just one case of discrimination I have met over the years. I have, in the past, been told by a GP to 'get over it', a manager has said to me that she would 'never have given me the job if she'd have known' (despite my work being of a higher quality than what was required of me). I have lost friends, been belittled by others, called names, been accused of lying, and been told I'm overreacting. I've been told I 'need to snap out of it', and heard phrases like 'It's not like I can see what's wrong with you' so many times, I have lost count. I want to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health, which is more common than some people realise.

I want to reiterate that my experiences have not all been negative; far from it. I have received support from health care professionals, friends and family and work colleagues. Their support allow me to have faith in people. I think when people are going through a tough time then it's not sympathy that they want but just a basic understanding that, sometimes, they may need support. Support doesn’t have to be in the form of a shoulder to cry on but an acknowledgement that what they are experiencing does not make them 'crazy', it just makes them human.

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Comments

Been there

I've been there and I know exactly what you've been through. My wife has suffered with a mental illness so I know about the stigma and where you are coming from. Never give up and never let them grind you down!

Questions/Comment to your blog

Hello, I have read your story and found it to be inspirational as you have not given up despite the awful experiences you have had. If you don’t mind I just want to ask a few questions relating to your story: What do you think caused your depression? Who suggested/pushed you to see the healthcare professional and did you feel comfortable about it? Do you feel that the stigma and discrimination that you faced worsened your condition in any way? Have you considered CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and what do you think about this as a form of therapy? What would you advice to teenagers who feel really low/depressed but who are scared to talk to family/friends about it? I think it is absolutely horrible how your job/manager treated you. People with mental health issues should be supported not discriminated against! I admire your determination and persistence to not allowing depression to ruin your life.

Your blog

"Support doesn’t have to be in the form of a shoulder to cry on but an acknowledgement that what they are experiencing does not make them 'crazy', it just makes them human."- This is what I crave. Brilliant line.

depression

I also was 16 yrs old when diagnosed with clinical depression. Because of my on going mental illness I have become self employed. It is a struggle but I meet wonderful people doing craft fairs which gives me a huge boost. Also, being creative really helps. It doesn't matter what ability you are, I am truly at peace with myself when creating a new cushion, rug or anything. I think you are very brave to face your depression as I am now 46 and only recently learned it's ok to have mental illness and accept that it will always be part of my life. I no longer have the guilt when I feel lethargic and negative, but pick up something creative to do.

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