Imagine yourself balancing on a tight rope, high above the ground, with absolutely no way down. That’s how I felt at the beginning of my second year doing A’ levels.
At the time I just remember thinking I was having a terrible phase that would pass on its own, but it didn’t. It took me a total of five years to realise what was actually happening to me.
I moved to England in 2003 and found it difficult. I began cutting myself and life seemed worse than ever. I tried telling people how upset I was but I wasn’t able to communicate it clearly as it’s difficult to describe a feeling.
Bad relationships and a close friend’s death made things worse. I had difficulty concentrating at school and started to miss deadlines; my teachers become increasingly disappointed with me.
Then it happened. I had to let it out, this cry for help that had been building up inside. I went to my dad and broke down saying, “I want to die.” It felt like someone was inside my mind controlling me and squeezing my brain until I could take no more.
My dad spoke to a doctor and I was referred to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). I was assessed by a psychiatrist. She asked me, “Have you ever thought you may be suffering from depression?” I hadn’t. It sounded outlandish.
I remember thinking, “Is this why I am struggling with everything?” I found it difficult to wake up in the morning, I struggled to concentrate on anything for any length of time and I isolated myself from family and friends.
I often thought that, if I died, it would all be over with. It was depression and I was wading through it, struggling to find an escape route.
Then one day, the best person I have ever met arrived on my doorstep. Without her I would have given in to depression; I surely wouldn’t be here at Exposure telling you my story now.
This lady was sent from CAMHS and she counselled me for six months. I was also prescribed anti-depressants. I was given Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which helped me change how I thought about life and the way I reacted to situations.
It helped me focus on the ‘here and now’ rather than the causes of my distress. It gave me a plan of how to start every day and make it through to the end. Therapy is an important treatment to ease you through the realms of depression.
Originally I was sent to a psychotherapist. I felt like I was being forced to confront my demons face-to-face. This wasn’t going to work for me (although
it does for some people). Choosing the right therapist is important, as different methods work better for some than others.
There is no miracle cure for mental illness; finding the right one for you is crucial to recovery. Since I recovered I decided to resit my final year at college and take it slowly.
I managed to complete one A’ level successfully, and apply to university.
Despite the severity of this experience, I’m happy that it happened. It sounds cheesy, but it made me stronger. Going through something like this toughens you up, and prepares you for problems in the future.
It’s a cliché but “whatever doesn’t break you, makes you stronger” makes perfect sense to me.
‘Exposure Asks’ young people about mental health:
If you or someone you know suffers from depression, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For more information take a look at some of the following organisations:
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problems.
Rethink offer advice and support to help millions of people affected by mental illness by challenging attitudes, changing lives.