August 18, 2017

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I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 16 years old and started counselling sessions. I was so ashamed of it, that I would lie about where I was going. I didn’t want people to know I was having counselling, in case they labelled me “crazy” or “insane”. I didn’t feel comfortable enough in my counselling sessions, as I didn’t believe it was confidential, so I ended up getting help with my anger issues but not so much with my depression and anxiety.

I pretended like I was fine for a few years, and then when I started university, it hit me all at once. I was not okay. Even then I pushed it aside and pretended it was all fine. It got really bad at one point and I ended up signing myself up for the university counselling service. Again ashamed people would brand me “crazy”, I didn’t tell anyone about it - I would sneak off to counselling and tell people I was going to the shops or to meet my personal advisor.

It was also at university that my bulimia got really bad. I have had bulimia since I was 14 but never told anyone about it - I thought I could handle it all by myself. My counselling sessions at my university were very helpful and it was recommended that I go to the university health centre and get NHS psychiatric help. During my psychiatric assessment, I had a nurse tell me that I was not depressed because “depressed people do not leave their rooms” and that I did not have an eating disorder, as people with eating disorders “don’t even want to drink water”. He also told me that he knew I wasn’t going to self-harm or hurt myself and that I shouldn’t do it anyway, as surgery to get rid of scars is expensive. I left the session insulted and in tears. I started to doubt myself and wonder “am I really fine? Is there nothing wrong with me?”

My depression spiralled out of control after this incident. It took so much for me to seek help initially, for me to then be treated like this - it made me want to stay in my room and hide from the world. I would have some good days but I would have more bad days. It became a downward slope from then; starting with a few months of me being depressed and ending in me spending every waking second wanting to kill myself. I ended up getting hospitalised, as a result of trying to complete suicide. I felt so empty inside, emotionless yet so emotional. It was like I was fighting a battle...against myself.

I lost a lot of friends when I was going through this - it was as if I was a problem and wasn't “fun” anymore. I wasn't asking for much, just for someone to listen and talk to, but it was as if they didn't want to hear it or “deal with it”.

I then met this amazing group of girls who helped me so much - they basically let me move in with them, took me under their wing and kept an eye on me. They showed me that surrounding yourself with people who actually care about you can make a world of difference. We all helped each other and grew together; I eventually climbed my way out of a place I never thought I would get out of. I’m so grateful to those girls.

I still have clinical depression, and anxiety, but it’s getting better and easier to cope with and I am better at coping with my bulimia as well. My university counsellor also helped me significantly and never gave up on me - I see her as more of a friend than a counsellor now. I still have bad days, but I have more good days than bad and hopefully one day those bad days won’t feel as hard to tackle.

Mental health changes constantly and I try and take things day by day. There is still so much stigma surrounding mental health and I still find it hard to disclose my own mental health issues to people, unless I really trust them. I wish this wasn't the case, but some people don’t react in the best way when you tell them. I want to put an end to the stigma, as the stigma alone makes us suffer in silence and deters a person from getting the help they need, which makes recovery so much harder.

All I can say is that if you can talk to someone, please reach out for help, don’t give up on yourself; you are worth so much more than that. And if you think you may know someone who is suffering, it doesn’t take a lot to help; it’s the small things you do that show you care.

I’m not sure if you can ever fully recover from depression and anxiety, but I want to get as far away from that dark place I was in as possible.

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Being judged. Stigma.

I completely agree with the fact that stigma still plays a massive part in mental health issues and it can be very difficult to talk to people or to open up to those close to you about things that are troubling or affecting you mentally. I've have suffered with mental health issues for years now and I too struggled to deal with my depression and anxiety and to this day find it very hard to get help. Work is a struggle and I find that taking time off or even speaking to my manager is a task in itself as having to explain why I'm ill or going into detail about issues that you don't really want To discuss with a complete stranger and that you think will judge you for your illness or behaviour. I found myself getting emotional at work and felt completely embarrassed by the whole thing. I had to build up the courage to go and see my manager and tell him I couldn't stay at work as I couldn't face up to people in the state I was in. Yet when I returned to work I still ended up receiving a written warning for my absence, which then added to my stress levels and my anxiety. So you can't win. I seem to dip in and out of my depression and daily life is a constant battle with my inner self but I try my best to cope and plough on at home and at work but work seems to make my stress and anxiety worse. going to seek help from anyone at work is tough and in the end all they seem bothered about is ultimately the business as proven by following procedure when I was ill and issuing me a warning. That has made me not want to be ill in future and just makes me worry that if I'm ill again will they sack me or pull me in the office. Which again adds to my depression and anxiety. That alone is enough to deter anyone from talking and Until employers understand the depth of mental health and company policy's and training improve there's little to show that stigma in the workplace will get better anytime soon. It saddens me to see so many people struggle in the society that we live in with all the powers of social media and technology yet very little is done and progress is still rather slow. I'm just glad that there's people in the world who are brave enough to share their experiences, and sites like time to change who are ultimately opening people's minds to mental health issues and stigma. I wish anyone all the luck and happiness in the world who struggles with mental health as I know myself how tough it is and I hope things in the future will change.


You are 100% correct Terry when you talk about stigma..I had a similar situation happen to the end I had to find another job because I need to almost create a new identity. The main thing is that you try and be honest with yourself and when speaking to others. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Im the number one culprit of this..some days are better then others..but through love and support we can learn to cherish ourselves. Like they say in NZ- Kia Kaha

Interest in using her story

Hi, Im working with NCS on a project relating to people who have struggled because of a mental illness and I was hoping it would be possible to use some of your story in our video. Our aim is to raise awareness on any help people can recieve. Please contact me back and i hope you consider our proposal

Hi Shannon,

Hi Shannon, I would be happy to help with you video, What would you need from me? Thanks

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