When I look back, I think my breakdown and subsequent depression was a long time coming, like a good 3 years in the making. When I finished university with a degree (in English Literature and Creative Writing) I did what most people do, I got a job; anything that paid me enough money to pay my rent, with a little left over. I thought I wanted to work in an office, earn lots of money and live the high life; needless to say my priorities were all in the wrong order.
I had a complete breakdown
In 2014, after six months of really trying to like being a manager in a telesales company, I’d finally had too much. I had a complete breakdown in my car at a tiny petrol station in Swansea. I sat in my car and considered driving myself to hospital but I knew I was no longer capable of driving anywhere. I considered doing something dangerous, instead I called my mum.
I decided to write a blog about my experiences
She organised for my dad to come and get me and he bought my step mum with him, someone I’d always thought of as sort of infallible but as soon as she got there she gave me a huge hug and told me all about the time it had happened to her. When they’d taken me home I started thinking about how much better her sharing her story with me had made me feel, so I decided to write a blog post on my own site about my experiences. The response I received was phenomenal; so many people I knew telling me for the first time that they had gone through the same thing, and how much my writing had helped them. People I didn’t know contacting me to say thank you, family members telling me friends of theirs had shared my story with their daughter or nephew or partner, who could relate to everything I was saying and suddenly felt far less alone in their experience of depression.
Subsequently, I felt far less alone too.
It felt great to help people who could relate to my struggle
It felt great to help people who could relate to my struggle but not only did I help them, they helped me more than I could ever imagine, they gave me the confidence and courage to stand up to the fact that I’d been living life for all the wrong reasons, and to make some much needed changes. I had been living for the weekend, working for my pay cheque and putting my materialistic needs far above my overall wellbeing. I thought that I could fill the huge hole in my happiness with stuff; with bags and shoes and clothes and bottles of wine and cocktails and it was quite a rude awakening to realise that none of this could help, it could only mask for a few moments that I was deeply unhappy, that I hated what I did for a living, that I was twisting and contorting myself to fit into someone else’s pre-determined mold of what success should be and that I was really hurting myself in the process.
People around me encouraged me to strive for a better way of life
My fiancé and I sat down and talked through our finances. We realised that actually we didn’t need to spend excessive amounts of money to be happy, that we’d been trying that for the past two years and look where it had got us - to a place where one of us was signed off work with depression and the other one was trying to cope with the repercussions of mental illness for the first time. I was lucky - I had a supportive network of people around me who encouraged me to strive for a better way of life, who told me that I needed to stop trying to be something that I just wasn’t and they gave me the confidence I’d never been able to find alone; the confidence to turn my passion into my living.
So, I left my job; I decided to follow my heart and become a writer. For the first time I feel so open and hopeful and opportunities are coming my way that I didn’t even know existed before. Sure, I’m living on a lot less but I am a whole lot happier. I know how lucky I am to have a partner who is supporting me while I get my freelance career up and running, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to return the favour one day, should he ever need it. Sharing my story has directly led to my new life, a life full of enthusiasm and hope. It made me realise that I really could do what I’d wanted to do all along and I can’t thank those who’ve encouraged me enough, they saved me, and all it cost was a little bit of honesty.
Milly blogs at Milldew.