Depression and mental illness are topics that are often met with resistance and ignorance. It is a taboo topic that people feel uncomfortable talking about, but it needs to be a topic that we speak openly about.
Depression is a silent illness that maybe family and friends don't even notice. It can be well hidden behind a fake smile and pretend words. It isn't until you get to that breaking point that maybe the signs start to show themselves to the outside world. But sometimes they don't...
I was inspired by my dear friend Katie Tymms to write a post about a struggle that I have had in my life. Katie suffers from chronic pain every day of her life which you can read about here. She hasn't shared to get sympathy, she has shared to open up and let others know that they aren't alone if they are suffering too.
And that is exactly why I'm sharing my story about depression, to let others know, and maybe even you, that you are not alone. Depression is scarily common so let's talk about it; start a discussion and ask the people around you 'R U OK?'.
I first got depression when I was 16 years old. I was in year 11 at high school.
Now I'm not blaming any one for my illness but it bubbled to the surface for me after a group of girls turned on me. They were meant to be my friends. But one day I got to school and they wouldn't talk to me, they walked off or changed seats in class. I couldn't understand what I had done and when I tried to ask I just got funny looks back. This broke my heart.
School was already a struggle for me as it was. I didn't like it and the pressure of VCE and 'you have to know what you want to do with your life' was too much.
I would cry my eyes out in my bedroom, day after day. I felt as though I was in a black hole with no way out.
I would sit in the darkness of my bedroom and contemplate what was next for me? I can't go on feeling like this any more. Life was tough!
To the outside world I probably looked like any other teenage girl. It must be the hormones I'm sure they thought. She will get over it they probably said.
But I didn't.
My parents weren't aware of how bad my struggle was, all they knew is that I wanted to leave school. This wasn't an option at the time. I was the academic one of the family so finishing VCE was a must. But I had other ideas.
A couple of days after my friends turned on me for an unknown reason, I walked out the school gate with the principle following me telling me to get back in the school grounds. But I just kept on walking and never looked back.
My parents then realised what I was feeling was deeper than just a typical teenage girl acting out.
I never went back to school after that day.
My parents booked me in to see a counselor, which was so helpful. Talking to a third person who had no idea who I was, was so empowering and helpful. I could just talk. I could just cry. I had an arena to talk about how I was feeling without being shut down or feeling embarrassed.
I ended up finishing VCE through Distance Education. It was so nice to be able to have another option that didn't involve attending a school. I must admit, you have to be very disciplined to be home schooled but it was so worth it.
My depression eased during this time. I felt alive again.
Even to this day I can have 'down' days where I just feel sad for no reason. But I'm aware of the feeling and I do my best to work through it. I'm lucky that it only lasts a couple of hours before I can snap myself out of it. But I know that depression will always be apart of me.
It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It isn't anything you have done or could have avoided. It just happens for whatever reason and then is triggered by something occurring in your life.
If you are suffering from depression all I can say to you is that you're not alone, even though it feels like you are. Seek help and speak to a third person who won't judge you. Talking about what you are going through is the key to getting better.
You don't have to live in that black hole. You have a choice. You deserve to be happy.
Remember, I'm not sharing my story to get sympathy, I'm sharing my story to open discussion about depression and mental illness. It needs to be spoken about so we can help other people who are really struggling with life at the moment.
There is a safe and positive way out.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness there are so many options for help out there. Check out Beyond Blue and Lifeline to name a couple.
Be happy & healthy,