World Mental Health Day aims to increase public awareness about mental health issues. It is an opportunity to work on bringing positive change to the health of every young person, and to bring attention to the importance of seeking assistance when experiencing difficulties.
Trigger warning: this blog post mentions suicidal thoughts, self-harm, domestic and sexual abuse. If you need support you can contact Shout which provides 24/7 urgent mental health support: giveusashout.org by texting SHOUT to 85258, you can also find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline in England via this link: nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-an-urgent-mental-health-helpline. If you are under 19 you can also contact Childline which offers a free and confidential service: childline.org.uk by calling 0800 1111.
Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression. In my experience as a care leaver, I have never felt safe. I felt that I lacked a family or friends. I experienced numerous placements, so nothing ever felt secure. Growing up, I experienced a great deal of isolation. Because I felt miserable all the time, I was unable to do what normal people my age would do. There were times when I would hurt myself and have suicidal thoughts. When I was alone, I would cry to myself. As much as I wanted all these feelings to disappear, it was difficult for me to deal with them.
I never expressed my feelings to anyone because I was afraid of being judged, I struggled to find the right words and I just didn’t want to burden anyone with my feelings. It was just that I was unsure of how the other person would respond. This left me feeling vulnerable and I feared that communicating my emotions might not be shared by others. Good communication requires vulnerability, but it’s also scary. Therefore, I suffered, and I kept my feelings to myself for most of my life. The inability to process my emotions prevented me from dealing with them effectively. Everything would be overthought by me. However, there is no right or wrong way to express your feelings.
As soon as I turned 19, I moved into my own apartment, I have spoken about this experience in a previous blog post. I still feel lonely despite having my own space, and not being surrounded by people can sometimes worsen how I feel on a daily basis. It was common for me to suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and low self-confidence. Depression and panic attacks would hit me at home, at work or even in a shopping centre.
My life was negatively impacted by feeling emotionally numb on the inside. I have changed the way I think and the way I view myself and others as a result of it. This caused me to put my guard up. I felt very empty, dead inside, and I was unable to care about anything, even the things I used to care about. I felt completely disconnected to life.
Sometimes I ask myself, “is it possible that these feelings I have had will ever disappear?” No, I do not believe so.
However, I have learned to deal with them in a more effective manner. Despite this, I no longer push people away and I can now share my feeling with others. I can say I am not weak as most people might perceive me to be, I am a survivor. I have endured abandonment, cruelty, sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying and everything else that comes my way. I am a survivor because, despite everything life has thrown at me, I rise above it and don’t give in to intrusive thoughts.
The turning point in my depression occurred when I was eventually able to access a couple of online counselling sessions, where I was supported by a professional and I was able to discuss my feelings. Eventually, I was able to surround myself with good company, do exercise, and find something I was passionate about. The act of writing and singing songs would serve as a healthy distraction for me. Although I’m still living with depression, it is not severe as it once was.
We all have days when we feel more or less engaged with life and excited about the future. But if you find yourself feeling emotionally numb day after day, for weeks on end, and it begins to affect your daily life and relationships, it might be a sign of an underlying mental health condition.
Some days are good, great in fact and you almost feel like you’re better. Then a look from someone or a memory, can turn you into a complete mess. Depression affects so many people, you don’t suddenly wake up and decide to feel hopeless.
The reason why I wanted to share my story is because I am in a better place now. I wanted to bring awareness to this issue and I just hope my story can help someone else feel less alone.
I would like you to know that if you have similar feelings, it is ok to switch off sometimes, that it is ok to cry, you are human. I would suggest talking to someone whether it’s family, a friend, or a therapist. Talking to someone you trust about something upsetting may help you to sort out your problem, see the situation more clearly and look at the problem in a different way. Focus on doing something that’s important to you, that would be a great distraction and that would help you a lot.
Hopefully the advice I’m giving to you can be useful, take one day at a time!