I’m Chris. I'm 21. I've lived with depression for most of my life, ever since I was a kid. I never used to understand the thoughts and feelings that I had. In my teenage years, I started to develop feelings of low self-esteem and confidence that affected my everyday actions and thoughts. I never talked to anyone about what I was going through – ever. I just hid my thoughts and feelings and thought I could deal with it that way. That was such a mistake. Depression it's like a bad wound: if you don't treat it and get it seen too, it can get infected or worse. I learned that the hard way.
When I hit 19, I started to react more, I started to feel a rush of those same thoughts and feelings. This time around it was far worse. I was confused: I was happy, had loads of friends, got a job that year, got a distinction from my course, and I was feeling great and I didn't get that. It was like I reached the top of the mountain only just to topple and fall all the way back down and even further. I asked myself what had happened, I didn't understand. It was like someone had set my emotions from 10 to 100. My confidence and self-esteem was at an all-time low – and with them in the dirt, I started to experience desires to self-harm. It was another problem that quickly grew out of control. I'd go home nearly every night and hurt myself, and then cry myself to sleep.
What a lot of people fail to realise is that depression doesn't just affect you, it can affect those around you. A lot of my so-called ‘friends’, who I thought would be there for me, just upped and left. I was only left with the handful of true friends that I still have today. This only fed my depression even further. I felt like a used tissue, discarded and flushed away. The experience left me with a recurring thought: "Everyone will leave you in the end".
My mother didn't notice until I told her about my feelings and self-harm. She booked an urgent appointment with my doctor, and I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
Despite this turn, I still felt so alone and dissociated from my few friends and family that I started to have thoughts of suicide. Eventually, down the line, I made a move to attempt it. I started to perform the actions needed to end my life. As I was, I had a sudden spark in my head telling me “NO! STOP! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?” That spark that day saved my life, I called an ambulance and was rushed off to hospital.
Life has a certain way of surprising you in a good way – even in your darkest of times. A few days after that I met my girlfriend who I'm still with today. At the time with what I was going through, I instantly thought "she's going to leave me". She didn't, and we'll be celebrating our two year anniversary soon. I was finally admitted to therapy where I was helped to understand my depression and deal with it. I feel so much better now. Therapy for me was like cleaning a wound: it hurt at the time, however, I healed and I'm thankful for it. I'm also thankful for the people who didn't leave me and who stuck by me through that tough time. Because it can be tough to deal with, whether you're going through it or seeing someone go through it. So I say to anyone reading this, if you're going through hell – keep going. My true friends, family and my girlfriend helped me get through my years of hell and I'm forever thankful to them.
Whenever I can now, I try to help those who're in the same position as I was. Whether it's just listening to them, providing advice and giving understanding to help. Just reaching out and saying “I'm here” does wonders. It could help save a life. And that's what everyone who loved me did. They were in my corner and I'm forever in theirs.