T.W. Depression, mental health illnesses and self harm.
I was officially diagnosed with depression by my doctor in 2016, which wasn’t long ago, despite how much I’ve changed since then. They said that they thought from my description of how I’d been feeling that I’d already suffered from depression for a couple of years prior to being diagnosed, but for me, 2016 was my breaking point. I finally had to admit to myself that I couldn’t function any more and that I desperately needed help to feel like myself again. It’s still difficult for me to write about now, but I’m hoping that by sharing it, I can encourage others to seek help and to say that there can be light at the end of the tunnel. As a warning, this probably isn’t going to be well structured – I’m just letting my thoughts tumble out as I write. It’s therapeutic in a way.
I feel so different now, I’ve slowly reclaimed myself from the illness and though I’m still discovering myself (lame I know, but necessary), I feel like I’m getting there and I am Sarah again. It’s strange to think back to how I felt two years ago… I was sad, deflated, angry at myself (and others who I blamed for pushing me to the edge), and defeatist. I wondered if being depressed was just part of my personality and if I was meant to be this way (spoiler, I wasn’t). Part of me fully embraced being sad all the time, as I felt like I deserved it. That I was such an awful person and I deserved to be sad.
I feel very lucky that I had so many amazing people to support me. Even friends who I had pushed away when I was ill, because I couldn’t bear to be a burden or because I was half convinced that everyone hated me, rallied round when I shared with them what I’d been going through. That’s a life lesson there: people can surprise you with their kindness. I do still firmly believe that if someone is toxic to you though, then you are better keeping them at an arm’s length away. Though it is hard, especially if you have depression I think, you have to put your own health first. Blocking out several people who just brought me down helped my recovery immensely, even though it felt super shitty at the time and I was ridden with guilt.
The hardest part about trying to get better was forgiving and loving myself. I still have to try hard some days, even now. I used to punish myself mentally and physically, and now it seems so drastic and I can’t even explain WHY I did it. I guess I just hated myself with a passion. My personality, my body, my own brain had turned against me and I needed to hurt. In the end though, I wasn’t the one who hurt most from my self harm, it was the people who cared about me who felt it the most.
Even with my brain all confused, I knew it had to stop so I found a way to cope: playing a certain song and singing (badly) to it, having a bit of a cry and letting myself be emotional. It really helped. It was hard but it helped. I guess though that there is no cure all – therapy and my anti-depressants really helped me get to the point where I could figure out how to counter my self harm thoughts. But the process will be different for everybody.
I’ve had a lot of friends who have suffered with depression and all of our experiences have been completely different, and I’m aware that I’m still pretty ignorant of depression in general and of other mental illnesses. I think the most important thing when discussing mental health is to be open to learning and to being supportive and unselfish. Anything otherwise is just more harmful to someone with a mental health disorder.
To anyone suffering with your own mental illnesses, I just want to say that sharing how I felt and seeking help took me a long time, but it was the best thing I ever did. I know it’s hard, and the process of recovery is not a quick or easy one, but you always have people who have your back. Do what is right for you. And if you’re already on the path to recovery, I’m proud of ya and sending love your way too!
Brain ramble is done, over and out.