Steffi, who features in the current Time to Change tube and bus advert, blogs about her friendship with Thea and how she's supported her through depression.
I have never suffered from severe mental illness personally, but what I have struggled with is watching my best friend fall into depression.
After seven years of friendship it was always apparent to me that she was different. At the beginning, nothing came from that, but as Thea and I grew closer everything became all that more clear.
I was upset that she had been struggling so much
There are many significant moments of Thea's recovery that I will never forget. But the worst one had to be the first time I found out about how serious her depression was. It was a miserable day at college and our friendship group sat in the common room laughing and having fun. Except Thea. Worried, another friend approached me and said Thea had recently started self-harming. A rush of emotions engulfed me; I was upset that she had been struggling so much and annoyed that she did not seek my help.
She opened up to me...it was hard to hear but I knew I could help if I knew
I knew she would not find it easy to tell me, so I decided to confront her. Obviously Thea was hurt, I had to be sensitive. This confrontation was full of uncomfortable, awkward moments, which were really difficult to push through. Except we did. She opened up to me, she told me everything, it was hard to hear but I knew I could help if I knew. Following this, I encouraged her to do one of a few things: call the doctors; tell her parents; tell the head of year.
This was very difficult for her, it was obvious. We decided to go with the Doctor’s option; a medical opinion seemed the best idea at the time. The Doctors led to her receiving therapy.
Thea may sometimes seem difficult to others, but these mood swings are not her fault. She is the kindest and most caring girl I know and would never try to be awkward around friends. Depression hasn't changed my love for her. I tried to remind her that her family and friends will understand and those who don't, well, they just haven't tried understand what she's going through.
I gave her a bracelet to remind her that I'm always there for her
I have often found it is the small things that are the most powerful. I gave her a bracelet to remind her that I'm always there for her, through thick and thin. There is nothing I needed from her except her happiness. That's all that I wanted from her and she is succeeding. By sending me texts like, "I now know my life is worth living" and "for someone to give me the purpose of living, despite how hard it is… well, that's the most meaningful thing you could do for me", makes everything worthwhile. Her happiness makes me more than contented, it makes me feel that I have succeeded as a friend and gained a friend for life.