September 7, 2015

My name is Ellie, I'm 22, a full-time student entering my 3rd year of English Literature and owner of a business. I also have depression and anxiety.

In my head depression is a bubble. I am trapped inside while the world continues around me; everything is muted and emotions are near impossible to experience. I am alone. The panic attacks are a black cloud; they follow me and with no warning are on top of me. I cannot get away from it no matter how hard I try, breathing is almost impossible and my mind is scattered in the wind. I can't decide which is worse, the overload or the exclusion.

University has been a  tough journey for me.  Initially I had to leave after 7 months due to panic attacks, depression and feeling like I couldn't cope with the world. I have been on medication, seen counsellors, and slowly, I've become stronger in myself. Recently I have been having increased anxiety attacks; from being unable to get out of the taxi at my university's summer ball, to breaking down at the thought of going somewhere new. When I cannot control a situation it triggers me. My boyfriend is amazing with this and has dealt with his fair share of my episodes, without his help I would not have achieved what I have today.

I set up my business in my gap year, before hitting my roughest patch, and almost 4 years on it has become almost as important in keeping my feet on the ground as my family and friends. It gives me a reason to get out of bed and it is a constant in a world where I feel lost without control. I don't want people to feel that they cannot achieve, that their illness is a barrier to doing what they love in life. My passion is my job; yes, I have days where 'the bubble' takes over, the world is muted and grey, but I am learning to cope.

Don't be held back, don't be scared, be proud of who you are because you are not alone. The more we go out into the world and show them that we are stronger than they could imagine, the less of a stigma we will face. The most important thing I have learnt is to go at my own pace, to not be afraid to take a day out to hide away from the world. It doesn't make you a failure to look after yourself. I don't believe my illness defines me, it isn't the most important thing about me, but I want it to be as accepted as everything else about me is. 

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