Back when I was still at school studying for my GCSEs I was struggling by myself with what I thought was depression. It later turned out to be bipolar disorder but perhaps that is another story for another day.
I felt very isolated and considerably different from my peers. School is all about fitting in and I most definitely did not fit in. I was coping with my severe depression and suicidal thoughts by self harming daily, even in the school toilets, just to get through the day.
However, all of that pain was internal. I wore a mask the rest of the time and nobody else at school had a clue what was going on inside my head. I decided to confide in a friend and, instead of being understanding, she was horrified and said “You can’t possibly be depressed because I’ve seen you laugh at jokes.” She went on to tell me about her grandmother who had ‘true’ depression and I was just making a mockery of people with real mental illnesses.
That left me feeling upset and confused. I even started to question myself - I did laugh at jokes. Did that mean I was making it all up? If I was making it up then why did I experience so much pain inside?
I decided not to confide in any more school friends
After that I decided not to confide in any more school friends for fear of being branded attention seeking, which a lot of self harmers often are. Instead I talked to my church youth worker and professionals at the mental health team where I slowly started to open up and trust people again with my internal struggles.
It's now been seven years since that incident and I have talked to so many mental health professionals about my problems and have gained confidence so that I no longer fear being branded attention seeking by others.
I even try to help others with mental health problems where I can
I have the support I need from the people that matter and that is what counts. I even try to help others with mental health problems where I can, simply being a listening ear can be a great help to someone who just needs to talk.
I am even studying psychology at university so that someday I can help others for a living and make even more of an impact.