January 13, 2014

Recently I sat on the sofa with my mother. My head hung, and one solitary bubble drifted around the surface of my cup of tea, slowly meandering in one direction, then another, searching for something; dancing a peculiar waltz. My mother asked me how I was feeling; she looked for the bubble but it was cowering on the edge of the mug out of her view, and then it popped. At that moment the whole world was in my mug of tea, and I, the lonely bubble, had burst. It was this bubble in my mug, resting on the warm comfort beneath, which awoke my senses if only for a second, and, like a mirror, reflected my perpetual loneliness and confusion.

I have finally plucked up the courage to seek professional help

My family now know about my anxiety and depression. It has been accumulating like a tidal wave since my early teens and now, as a 20 year old, I have finally plucked up the courage to seek professional help. But it was far from easy.

I had thought that if I hid behind messy hair and hairy legs and disguised myself as a traveller, my problems would all dissolve. The truth is I had packed my depression in my rucksack when I got on the plane to travel after finishing sixth form, and it followed me all the way to the other side of the world. The further I ran the faster it raced to catch up with me, until a year later my body and mind began to shut down and I booked a flight straight home. It took another two months before I was able to tell the people around me that there has been something seriously wrong for many years.

I was determined not to accept that I had an 'illness'

In the following weeks I suffered persistent panic attacks that felt like tattoos to my bones, nearly took my own life, and the only three words that my brain allowed space for were ‘It’s too late’.

I am now having home visits and accepting the help I so adamantly refused during college because I was determined not to accept that I had an ‘illness’: I had truly believed that depression was part of my character and in seeking help, my individuality would somehow have been stolen. I spent a long time in denial because depression and anxiety had been a part of me for so long that I was afraid to even attempt to let them go. Looking back through my college diary entries I see a frightened, lonely, confused and bitter girl in a vicious cycle of self-destruction and inner turmoil. My depression itself prevented me from seeking the help that I needed, and I allowed no one close enough to me to discover how troubled I really was.

I’d spent a large proportion of my life on the edge of a cliff, dangling from an unravelling rope, falling into holes and tunnelling out of them, hoping that one day I could wander off the edge of the earth unnoticed. Throughout college I became increasingly confused, deciding that the world wanted me to fail. My diaries, which had been my method of venting negative thoughts and emotions since I was twelve, became scattered and illogical, and relationships with the people around me slowly deteriorated until I had retreated so far into myself that nobody knew who I was anymore.

I find overcoming depression rather like learning to ride a bicycle

I find overcoming depression rather like learning to ride a bicycle. When you’re faced with the vehicle for the first time you cannot even fathom attempting to sit on it and pedal, and yet you see people around you cycling with ease. You finally decide to try, and inevitably you fall off. You’re frustrated, jealous of the people who ride one-handed beside you, and you feel like giving up.

When we finally do learn however, we often look back at those memories of bruised limbs and sweaty palms on handlebars, and they become comparatively insignificant yet simultaneously crucial. Battling depression is not an easy ride. One day, however, no matter how impossible it may seem to someone suffering from depression, I believe we all have the ability to find the strength within us to persevere in learning to ride our own bicycles, glancing back every now and then at where we’ve been, only to discover how far we’ve come.

The more we share our understanding the more we can battle the stigma

My aim is to share my experiences and encourage others not to be afraid of mental illness like I was. For those of us who know what it feels like to live underneath a boulder that just keeps getting heavier, or to run with a broken leg, we shouldn’t feel ashamed. Depression and anxiety are potentially life threatening illnesses and the more we share our understanding the more we can battle the stigma, spread awareness and encourage each other to take the first steps to recovery, however tough they may seem.

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Well written

Having suffered with Depression for the last 20 years and anxiety for last 3 years I was very much like you and tried to hide it, pretend it wasn't there. Well it finally caught up with me. Like you say, you cannot out run it. I was open about my problems a few months ago and I can start to feel the weight lifting off my shoulders although it still feels like I am carrying it up a steep hill but at least it's a road that feels like I am going on a journey rather than a running on a treadmill. So I just wanted to comment that you have put into words something I couldn't do. You have explained it far better than I ever could and I shall be sharing your story to raise awareness. I agree, it is time that people who suffer with mental illness should not be made to feel as if they have to 'hide' and feel ashamed. So I'll say again, well done for a well written article and wish you all the best.


i think it good that people are aware of what depression is and not to suffer in silence there is help out there i went through depression after my mum died after a very trumatic time and was put on antidepressents im still on them but not ashamed and i get a check up from my gp every 6 months but i am getting there

I am so glad i read this. I

I am so glad i read this. I felt exacty the same and kept it hidden inside me wishing and hoping so hard it would go away. Obviously, it didnt and i crumbled. It took me a good few years to even be able to say the words 'Depression & Anxiety' let alone speak about it. My partner, immediate family and a couple of friends now know. I am still overcoming a lot of obstacles but feel i have made good progress. Through the help of weekly CBT & counselling. I have always wanted to start a blog and try write down my feelings but i really struggle when i start to write & i have always been scared of what people would say. Well done on this article and good luck with the future.

Stigma and it's impact.

I will tell you a bit what have put in my book about stigma and I for one am joining in the fight to get rid of stigma it has been more of a near death experience then the mental health issues I've had were. I won't go on much longer but what I will say is this, talking to anybody about it is half the journey done because if you have somewhere to vent then it's the best cure in the world. "Stigma be gone! So your a nut job, This is the line delivered to you when you speak out, when you let loose the inner demons. You could be trapped for 20 years suffering but your not allowed to be open and honest about your condition. Being gay is acceptable now but having a mental illness will tarnish your life and even your career. If a soldier sees his friend blown up his brain can't process the information so he keeps reliving the experience over and over again he keeps relieving the horror and suffers in silence, if a woman finds out she has breast cancer she receives the best help money can buy and is offered all the help she needs to deal with her problem. So here's my point, how come when you get a mental problem it's down to an active imagination, how come every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy except the brain! The battle is with yourself but the demon is the no help factor and the stigma behind it creates the blockade for future happiness. If everyone with mental health issues had somewhere to go without judgement then the world would be a smoother place and we could all learn what it is to be "sane". 1 in 4 people suffer form sort of mental illness, the biggest hitter is depression. And just FYI it doesn't matter of your Doreen 3 doors down or Julia Roberts depression just loves everyone. We need to help each other out because we are not prepared for the 21st century in the upstairs department no sir, we simply don't have the bandwidth to connect. The first step though is to stop the stigma. Just find a person that has the same soundtrack playing that you do the One that says what am I doing, what's wrong with me. Talk about it never suffer in silence cos that's the killer"

Very well put.

I have some mental illnesses but I am in no way ashamed.

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