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.