Dealing with depression and anxiety can cause a multitude of different side effects. It can turn you into a completely different person; one that your friends and family wouldn’t even recognise. My issue seemed to be my short temper and snappy outbursts. When I was once a relaxed and calm individual that enjoyed the slower pace of life, I soon became an erratic whirlwind of emotion that couldn’t sit still for five minutes.
During my second and third year of university, depression and anxiety reared their ugly heads. After years of battling these two demons, and finally finding some peace at the age of 21, I soon felt the familiar feeling of sadness and a distinct lack of interest in most things, rising back up out of the shadows.
I noticed that I would become frustrated with people easily, I lost interest in what other people had to say half way through a conversation and I would start arguments just to release some pent up aggression. Before long, the majority of my friends had abandoned me. Unable to cope with my poor temper and constant mood swings, they left me to my own devices; apart from one friend. This friend stuck by me – why, I’ll never know - but she did.
I met my best friend Shannon in our first year of university - we’d messaged each other on a Facebook group that was made for Freshers. It wasn’t until our second year though that we became as close as we are today. We shared the ups and downs of student life, of normal life and everything in between, but most of all, she never treated me differently - even when I was a completely different person than when she first met me.
During our final year, we decided to live together and it is then that she showed me how strong of a person she really is. I struggled to get through my third year of university - near the end I basically had a nervous breakdown. Not only was I at the peak of my depression, but my anxiety was out of my control and I had considered self-harm.
One of the things that helped me get through it was my friend and the way she treated my current state, as if nothing was wrong. Yet at the same time, she did everything in her power to make me feel safe and secure in whatever situation we found ourselves in.
She took me by the hand and helped me enjoy the last of my student days; sneaking off to less crowded parts of house parties to talk me down from sheer panic. When I teetered on the very edge of a full scale meltdown, she sat in my room while I hyperventilated and shook with an anxiety attack, and talked about the latest David Attenborough documentary, as if nothing was wrong.
Having someone there who wasn’t focusing on the fact that I was losing control, but acknowledging it all the same, helped me to get out of my own head and regain control.
Never did I think something so simple, as treating me like a normal functioning human being, would mean so much to me in the long run. Without her, I honestly don’t know what I would have done and thanks to all her efforts, I have happy and sentimental memories of my complicated and turbulent student days.