June 20, 2013

Megan

  • I need to just sort myself out
  • I need to change myself to make my life better
  • I’d be happy if I were thinner and better looking
  • I’ll feel better when I finish sixth form
  • I’ll feel better when I’ve finished university

These are all things I have been telling myself for around four years now. From the moment I started my A-levels to the present and my second year at university.

Symptoms ranged from frequent infections, hair loss, bad skin, not being able to leave my room, crying early in the morning and late at night without fail, shaking with anxiety in social situations, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and even a panic attack in my sleep resulting to being rushed to A&E with severe chest pains.

I played up to the part of lazy student

While friends joked that I never attended lectures anymore I played up to the part of lazy student even though I loved my course. It pained me to miss it, I just couldn’t leave my bedroom. I was convinced that I was lazy, or that everyone felt like this sometimes or that I was bringing it upon myself but the truth is depression and anxiety were ruining my life to the point where I felt there was no life left, no future to be enjoyed.

I sought help after what could be called discrimination. It could be described as ignorance or just the lack of understanding. It culminated in a massive argument with my mum. She had suddenly realised that I’d been avoiding university and hiding away and in a knee jerk reaction bombarded me with lines such as ‘you need to sort your life out’.

My illness wasn’t obvious to her

This was the worst thing that could have been said to me as I knew it was true but knew I had been trying to do just this for up to four years. She saw me as lazy and unwilling to try and be successful even though I had always been an ambitious person before my symptoms became debilitating, leaving me with zero confidence in my looks, ability to work, my intelligence, my worth in general.

It was at this point that I suddenly realised that she didn’t understand because my illness wasn’t obvious to her. It seemed obvious to me but I had become so good at hiding my symptoms that she couldn’t be expected to guess even though she has been living with depression and anxiety her whole life.

Writing my symptoms down helped me

I want to tell anyone reading this how I managed to break the strange news that I thought I might be depressed or anxious or suicidal or a fantastic mixture of them all. You may think it will be hard for you to explain how you suspect you’re not just lazy and unambitious. Writing it down helped me.

I made a list of all of my symptoms and printed copies for my mum and for my GP. It may be hugely difficult for you to think about telling your GP in case they don’t understand or make you feel a fool but I can only tell you that my GP was fantastic, which completely shocked and relieved me. With my list of symptoms I printed photos of me before and after the symptoms had worsened. I believe this documentation helped me understand how bad the depression had become, which I never fully understood before.

Talking about how is becoming easier

After taking this first step I have still felt at times like people don’t understand so I must explain again but talking about how I feel needs to be practiced and it’s becoming easier. I no longer expect nobody to care or put pressure on myself to sort myself out on my own and be completely independent. The full support my mum now gives me shows that with work and showing your feelings even those who have initially seen you as lazy or useless can understand when given the chance.

It can be hard for another person to understand how you can feel so worthless while you have a seemingly good life. Explaining how I felt was the start of what I hope to be the recovery of the bubbly Megan I miss. I think that I gained my future back by telling my family, my GP and my friends how I felt. It is only the first step but a first step I am so relieved to have taken. I wish anyone else who is going through similar experiences the best and hope that you see the discrimination for what it is, a lack of understanding that can be changed.

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