Last year I came out to my Facebook friends about my battle with depression, my close friends already knew to some degree about it, but this was the first time I decided to put it out there in a more public forum. The reason for doing this was because I had finally accepted that it wasn’t shameful, I had struggled for a long time with the stigma of mental illness and feeling like I’d failed. But after talking with people who I admire and respect who also had their own fights with mental illness, I finally began to accept that it wasn’t a sign of weakness, that no one judged me for it.
The Power of Social Media
I wanted to share my experience with others, for two reasons, one to help with my own acceptance and to raise awareness of mental illness, so one evening in August last year I typed up a status for Facebook. I will admit at times I had tears in my eyes and I was extremely nervous of people’s reactions, or if they’d even react. To be honest I thought it’d be lost in an endless sea of statuses on people’s news-feeds.
I was wrong, the response was overwhelming, I had likes, comments, private messages, text messages, some from people I’d barely even spoken to or hadn’t spoken to in years and once again I was in tears, this time in happiness. Some people opened up about their own experiences and some just wanted to say a nice word, but every single one was positive.
2013: The Year of Darkness
My journey is a fragmented one; looking back I probably had bouts of mild depression throughout my 20s, especially in 2013. That was the worst year of my life; I remember having to move out of my boyfriend’s house and into a horrible flat. In the first few weeks I barely showered, I barely even existed; I’d wake up and cry, go to work, cry, come home, cry, watch DVDs alone, cry then finally sleep. I remember being in The Warehouse one late Friday evening trying to buy a cheap TV and DVD player so I could watch some DVDs in order to forget what I was going through and the sales guy wasn’t sure if they had one and I nearly cried in the store because I needed this so badly, I needed one thing to help me forget about how crap I felt. Even remembering this now and typing it I’ve had to stop and cry multiple times.
An Internal Struggle
I got through it, without medication, but the worse was still to come and I spent the entire year in a constant state of battle. During 2013 I broke up with the boyfriend that I lived with, so I lost my home, I was made redundant and there was, throughout the year other constant little battles that left me feeling suffocated, lost and stuck in a feeling of pointlessness. Once you get to this point, then your brain turns really nasty, it whispers about how you’ve become a burden, that the reason all of these bad things happened is because something is wrong with you, that you’d be better off dead.
Finally in January 2014 it all came tumbling down, on my first day back at work after the summer break I ended up in tears in the car park, my boss whisked me to the doctor that very morning and I was diagnosed with depression.