How depression has affected me

No one knows the real me

No one close to me really knows the real me. I am a doppelgänger, a fraud; there is no happy, well-adjusted Angus, he’s a character I created to hide myself from everyone. Inside I am torn apart, trying to exist in some way just barely resembling normality.

Strongly negative thoughts

All of this adds up to frequent, negative thoughts about the future and my entire existence in general. Thoughts on self-annihilation are inevitable and I sometimes deliberately read pro-euthanasia arguments as a justification for my feelings.

Severe depression since 15

I grew up in Omagh, Northern Ireland, a social outcast due to my mixed race background. Ever since I was fifteen I have suffered from long bouts of depression, generalised anxiety and deep, longing feelings of wanting to die.

Two suicide attempts

In my life I have attempted suicide twice, once through slicing into my arm with a razor and a botched hanging another time. I am very lucky that I haven’t been permanently injured by any of these events.

Appetite and sleep disturbance

One of the first signs of the depression was a change of appetite. I would barely eat anything, surviving on the bare minimum of food. I dropped five stone in the space of a few weeks. I would only get around four to five hours of sleep every night. On some weekends, I could hardly get out of bed, not even to do homework or go to the toilet.

Self harm

This is what led me to self harm. I would use my shaving razor to cut into my arms, shoulders and chest. I was addicted to taking out chunks of my flesh as, in my mind, it felt less painful than the constant anguish of loneliness and the eternal fatique of despair.

Slashed wrist

One night, I sliced my wrist in two. Fortunately it was barely a flesh wound and I didn’t require stitches. I wore a jumper the next day to conceal the mark, not wanting to give my tormentors even more ammunition.

Chance to start again

This hellish existence continued until the age of sixteen when the most wonderful, life changing news came to my doorstep – my father had accepted a job in England and we would be moving there for good. For the first time in my miserable existence, I had a reason to smile. Moving meant a clean slate, a chance to begin again and maybe never have to wake up to madness and melancholy again.

Moving to a small town

We moved away shortly after some of the worst violence and rioting that Belfast had seen in over a decade. I have never set foot in Northern Ireland ever since. We moved to a small market town south of London and I enrolled in the local school.

First ever friends

It was not just the first time being an A level student; it was the first time I ever had friends. The first time I went to parties and socialised. The first time I ever felt part of something special.

Depression returned

But, like everything else in my life, it didn’t last long. My depression returned. It had actually gotten worse. There was now a hollow empty feeling inside that cut me of from everything around me.

Intensified self harm

I began to self harm twice as much now. I even carried my razor around so that I could do it in school as well as at home. My new friends might have been suspicious of my increasingly unusual behaviour but never questioned me. Then one night, when the town was empty of all existence, I attempted suicide.

Second suicide attempt

I wandered out into a clearing of trees where no one would find me and I hung myself from one of the branches. The twig snapped in two and I fell about ten feet to the ground. I returned home with the cold hard feeling of failure, never revealing to anyone what I had done. I cried myself to sleep that night.

Why me?

Mixed race background

My depression was brought about because of a lifetime of abuse, torment and loneliness. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland. My mother was Scottish, but her father was from India making me a mixed race.

Isolation

In a country torn apart by conflict, violence and paranoia, coupled with a palpable xenophobia for those who didn’t appear to come from the same community that they did, I never fitted in anywhere. I grew up isolated, never meeting anyone else who shared a similar background to me.

Treated as social outcast

I was a social outcast. Most of my memories in primary school are either of being picked on or wandering the playground or canteen alone, no one wanting to have anything to do with a ‘paki’ or ‘freak’. I can still remember being refused lunch on the grounds of my race.

Racist slander

Entering secondary school was even worse. Name calling turned into slander and I was even suspended once for defending myself from a racially provoked attack. Again, I was an outcast, confined to keeping myself to myself and never interacting with anyone.

Learnt to hate and mistrust people

The repercussions it has had on me are nothing short of substantial. I learned to hate people and the world in general; to this day I am still very reserved and socially awkward. I have grown up to develop a very bleak worldview with a mistrust of most people.

What’s helped

New directions

After I failed most of my AS exams I decided that I would go to college to retake different subjects. It was best decision I ever made. It was then that I started my life long ambition with writing and it was the first time I entered into a relationship with someone, the first time that the sickening feeling of isolation disappeared and I felt normal.

Doing well

Regrettably, the relationship didn’t last very long but it was after this point that I left college with all As and entered university, going on to successfully complete my first year in journalism.

Distraction

In one word, the best treatment for my symptoms has been distraction. My university studies, playing the guitar, listening to music, going for long walks, writing articles, music and stories, making films; just about anything creative and time consuming and I’ll do it.

Channelling feelings into something constructive

These forms of distraction are ways I have found of channelling my feelings into something constructive. As long as I work or do something that involves plenty of creative energy I can cope with my low moods and depression.

Counselling

I also visit a counsellor weekly as it is a much needed relief to talk to someone who is willing to listen and not judge.

Support networks

My life here in Britain is peaceful. I have friends I am always in contact with and I have a very supportive family. I live because I am determined to escape the horrors of my past and give myself a future worth living for.

Hope for the future

I will never let my depression best me as it will mean that my tormentors have won. I hope to one day have a long lasting relationship with someone and to finally let go of all the pain and emotional baggage I have carried with me.

What I’ve learnt

Find something you’re good at and passionate about

So my best advice for someone in my position is to find something you are very, very good at, something that no one else can do as well as you. Not only is it a great boost to your confidence but it can be used as a conversation piece. People will pay attention to your talent and, in turn, to you. It is also a welcome change of pace to feel passion and intrigue as opposed to misery.

Related

Feeling like you want to die?
Depression warning signs
Finding what works for you