October 25, 2013

Before I applied for university to study a MA I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and spent time working to realise I was poorly and needed help.

Over the years my depression got worse and went undiagnosed

At school I was not the best pupil. I was quiet, often bullied and went home feeling worthless. Over the years my depression got worse and went undiagnosed. I became a self harmer at the age of 12. In my teens I attempted suicide numerous times. Home life was hard. On my last day at school, my best friend and I wrote in each others leaving books. My best friend wrote about how she hoped to see my articles in national newspapers. I, on the other hand, was so low on confidence that I just saw it as a pipe dream. Something I would never do as I had no confidence, just a dream.

I went through college studying courses I was not interested in and just got temp jobs to keep me going financially. I tried to leave home numerous times. However my family had convinced me that we lived in a dangerous world and something bad would happen to me if I didn’t get married and have children at a young age.

I applied for university to study an undergraduate course

I applied for university to study an undergraduate course and slowly started pulling away from home life. During my undergraduate study, I went from being quiet to angry with the world. I eventually left home and lived by myself during my second year of university and then lived in a student house.

I was angry because I was scared of failing university. My feelings of worthlessness came back and I never went out or socialised with other students. I worked to make sure I didn’t fail. At my graduation my best friend was my plus one and my family never showed up. I passed my course with a 2:1 BA Hons.

My sadness that my family didn’t want to come to my graduation was like a black cloud over my head. It followed me everywhere and I kept asking myself and my best friend, ‘what was so wrong with me that my parents could not be happy for me?’ Again I did temp jobs and just scraped by on the money I earned.

I didn’t trust people easily and thought my bosses were just like my parents. I just wanted them to say they were proud of me. I was still self-harming and, when I lost my job in 2012, I hit rock bottom. I broke. I felt like I was sinking and there was this black cloud over me still. I was in a dark room screaming and no one was hearing how much pain I was in.

I had to use my voice and say: I’m struggling, I need help

I learnt that no one could see the thoughts I had in my head telling myself that, it was true all these years, I am worthless. However I was sick of feeling sad. My best friend supported me, though, telling me what I had achieved and asking why was I so focused on the negative? I had to go the doctors and I said that I needed help. I had to use my voice and say: I’m struggling, I need help. This is something that I had never done. I was 29 years old when I was first diagnosed with a mental illness; anxiety and depression.

During my counseling sessions I spoke about my passion for writing and how reading newspapers for hours on end being glued to the news as a child was my escape from what was happening in the family environment. I also spoke about how I just kept journals and wrote poems. It was during my counseling sessions I realised that I did want to be a journalist.

After that counseling session I started to research how I go about taking part in training and courses. I found out that, because I had a 2:1 BA Hons, the next level was a Masters. So I chose to study a Masters in Journalism. I started my Masters in September. Not only that I will be going to university with a mental illness and this time I have coping strategies. I have gone through a range of emotions from scared, nervous, anxious, asking myself: what if I fail? My reply now is that I don’t know until I try! I have a good network of friends and I trust myself. I will give it my best effort on my new course.

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