How depression has affected me

No opportunity to deal with trauma

As the years went on it didn’t get any better, not because life didn’t get better; I just carried as everybody else did trying to live normally, do what was expected of me. I didn’t have any opportunities to deal with my internal struggles and trauma that I had been through whilst growing up. The battles just seemed to have grown and aged with me.

Not like everybody else

I never understood why I wasn’t like everybody else, cheerful and happy and just got on with life. I felt forever in this low, hopeless place. Even when I smiled it never felt real. My self-esteem was extremely low, my education suffered, I struggled to make positive relationships. This eventually led me to feel very low, abnormal and scared.

Self harm and suicide

I began self harming as I felt I needed to be punished for not coping better. The self harming started small but I became braver whilst my depression grew bigger and stronger than self harming and I began thinking that life was not worth living. The pain and loneliness I felt just wasn’t worth the life I was living. These were times when I did give up and resorted to narcotics and over doses on a few occasions.

Just needing help and support

I understand now that it was not that I wanted to die, it was that I needed help. I needed someone to support me through my difficult times and someone to listen to my thoughts and feelings. I needed to overcome all the anxiety, pain and loneliness and most importantly I needed to grieve.

Depression at school

Although by then I had escaped the traumatic circumstances of my earlier childhood (described in the next section), secondary school is when the depression began growing in me. I struggled at school but there was no one at home to help me.

Cut off from friends

When I didn’t get the 5 A-Cs that I needed to do A-levels I did a year of GNVQ first while my friends started at A-levels, this was the beginning of my loneliness. I never had my friends in my class, but the rest of them were all together. I wouldn’t know what they were talking about at break time and missed all the laughs that they were having.

Lonely and left out

Then someone else joined ‘the group’ and we didn’t get on and I was pushed out it felt. Then I had no friends and starting my AS-level a year later was a struggle. I didn’t want to see them every day at my school all happy, it was hard for me.

Dropped out

Eventually I dropped out and never went back. I started working – and I know this was a disappointment for my dad and what the family would think.

Unsatisfying attention from guys

It was at this time I felt I had no one. All I had was attention that guys were giving me. Eventually I did get in to a meaningful relationship, but before and after this relationship I felt I was getting involved with guys purely because they were the only ones paying any attention to me. Of course the end result was that they wanted to sleep with me, but I never wanted to.

Traumatic trip to India

An opportunity came to go to India with a friend, and I was excited about going abroad and on an aeroplane for the first time – but it was not as I thought. It was a huge cultural shock and I felt very lonely out there away from my family for the first time. It was a 6 week trip, but as soon as I arrived I wanted to come back.

Vulnerable and unsupported

I didn’t speak much of the language and I felt my friend didn’t want to translate for me. I didn’t feel supported by her like I had before, and I even managed to get myself into trouble out there with the cab driver we had rented for a few days – I managed to give him the wrong signals and this stupidity almost got me raped. It was an extremely lonely and painful experience.

Moved away to the city

My boyfriend had moved away to Birmingham and one day I just decided that I was going to move there too. I hated the town I lived in, seeing the same faces day in and day out in the same town centre. I wanted to be closer to my boyfriend, and I thought it would make me happy to move to the city, find a career path, and make lots of friends.

Dependent on boyfriend

Of course this is not how it happened. I got my own place but grew dependent on my boyfriend to be with me all the time when he was not at work. He made it clear that he wanted to do his own thing sometimes but this was hard for me to accept. I went job hunting and got a part time job in a video shop.

Working 24/7 to avoid feelings

This helped me to be less alone but still wasn’t fulfilling, I still wanted a better job. I eventually did get a full time job and kept the part time job as well, not because I needed the money, but because I wanted to be busy, away from how I was feeling. My life was just going to work 7 days a week. I saw my boyfriend now and then.

Break up intensified self harm

A few months later my boyfriend broke up with me; he had met someone else. I begged for him to stay with me. I hadn’t made any friends. I got on with people that I worked with but nothing closer came out of it. This was one of the first times I self harmed properly. In the past I seemed to have gotten some self fulfilment out of scratching my entire arm with a pin.

Desperation

I couldn’t bear the pain of not having this one person in my life. I threatened things like, jumping out of the car while it was moving (I didn’t). On the night he broke up with me I sat in the road refusing to move for him to drive past, I took a knife from the kitchen and started cutting my arms, he took the knife from me and left. I took another knife and ran after him down the street. He took this knife also. He couldn’t cope with my distress and called the police. They came and calmed the situation down.

Overdose

I felt broken, I felt I had nothing. People at work saw I was distressed and sent me home. I tried calling him but he wouldn’t answer. So I walked all the way to his house and on the way went in to a shop and bought a packet of paracetomol. I took a bunch; there were only 16 in the pack. I was drowsy when I got to his house. He was getting ready to go out, and he did go out leaving me there. I fell asleep on the bed.

No longer functioning

Complications started happening at the flat I was sharing with a contact of my ex, which stirred some trouble and feelings. Eventually I was asked to leave there. I did but was too distressed to find myself a place, so my ex found me a place, but it was a horrible place – not very clean. At work I would talk to my boss and eventually we came to a mutual agreement that I would leave as I couldn’t carry out my job effectively anymore.

Saw GP and got antidepressants

My boss suggested that I get some help with my feelings. I started going to a GP who put me on anti-depressants. She was very understanding and said I could go to her even if I just wanted to talk. One day I did. I just cried there and she thought that I should try therapy. The GP referred me to a child psychologist.

Therapy

It took a few months for a space to open up for me on the waiting list but I was thankful when it did. This gave me a free non-judgemental space to talk about my feelings and what was happening in my life. I valued the 50 minutes once a week. I rarely missed my appointments. Even when it meant leaving work to go.

Referral to therapeutic community

By this time I had started a new job which I was let go off quickly due to my therapy appointments. After a few months my therapist decided that I needed more of a supported environment to help me. He referred me to a therapeutic community. I just had to be accepted in terms of funding.

Downward spiral

I was accepted at the therapeutic community very quickly, but unfortunately funding became a problem and the case was sat on for almost a year despite the numerous letters my therapist wrote in urgency. My living situation was getting worse.

Rock bottom

I was feeling suicidal by this point. After the break up I couldn’t see a way out. I was so depressed from my break up that I didn’t eat well, I didn’t sleep enough, I didn’t shower regularly. I felt at rock bottom.

Cannabis and alcohol

The break up was also when I started smoking cannabis. He said it would make me feel better. This then became my escape from my feelings. During the break up I was drinking regularly but then moved on to weed. My escape from my feelings was alcohol and cannabis.

Vulnerable

Through the contact of my ex’s who supplied me with cannabis another guy started contacting me separately. I wasn’t looking for a relationship as I was still very hurt over my recent last relationship. Somehow he won me over. (I now realise that he picked up on my vulnerability and used that as a way of getting to me.)

Another insecure home

I began staying with him in his flat with his parents. I never stayed at my place and he suggested that I just move in with him and get rid of my place. I agreed as I thought this was a waste of money. I was never given a key; he would always let me in after I finished work.

Treated badly

Of course we had our ups and downs. When we had our downs I had no place to go to relieve my anger or be alone or get help. I had to go back to the flat dreading it even when he treated me like crap. I watched in disgust that he was sleeping happily next to another girl. He would have people over late at night.

Tired and unsupported

I became tired all the time as I had to get up for work every day. He was unemployed so he was always free. What I needed was not taken in to consideration. I remember once sleeping at the video shop because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I slept in my car at times also.

Stopped medication

I stopped taking my anti-depressants as I thought there was no point to take them as they didn’t work and I was smoking cannabis anyway so that was helping fall asleep at night. One day I felt ill at work but my boyfriend wouldn’t come back to let me in to his parents’ house.

Breaking point

At this point, I couldn’t take this painful domineering life style. I didn’t like the person I was sharing my life with, I didn’t like myself, I didn’t feel I could turn to anyone. I decided that life wasn’t worth living. It was too painful. I kept thinking my mum took the easy route out, why shouldn’t I if I hate my life so much.

Overdose

So I wrote a couple of notes to a couple of people. Bought some paracetamol and had my anti-depressants that I wasn’t taking. I parked outside a hospital and took a bunch of each. I cried while I took them because I felt sad that I was resorting to this way out. All I really wanted was for someone to support me.

Went to hospital

For some reason I rang the child psychologist. He wasn’t available straight away but he rang me as soon as he was free. He advised me to go in the hospital and tell them that I had taken an overdose. That’s what I did. He kept in touch with me on the phone while I waited for the psychiatric assessment.

Transfer to mental health hospital

I had nowhere to go, I didn’t want to go back to the guy’s flat that I was staying with. I decided that relationship was over. I told the people at the hospital that I was homeless and I waited for a transfer to a mental health hospital.

Frightening and unpleasant

It was the early hours of the morning. The hospital was quiet and I felt scared. They took me to a room where it looked like someone had been living in there but wasn’t there that night. It was dingy and horrible, but it was a bed as far as they were concerned. They gave me pills to take which I wasn’t keen on but took them anyway.

Moved around

Almost every night for the two weeks that I was there I never had the same bed. Often I was taken off my ward to another ward to sleep as there was a shortage of beds. It was a disturbing way of being.

Intimidation and discrimination

One night while I was being moved to a different ward with a male Asian nurse. He made me feel so low. He told me that I “shouldn’t be here, look at the people here, you are not like them, and you should be out of here with a good job”. I felt humiliated by him. I worried every time he was on a shift. I hoped that he wouldn’t be the one taking me to another ward. Now I know I was discriminated against because of my ethnicity.

No help with housing

I was scared of losing my job so I told the people there that I needed to go to work. They let me go every day. When my review meeting came up the psychiatrist said that I couldn’t use the hospital like a B&B and that I would have to leave because I am working. I argued that I had nowhere to go. They referred me to a housing officer of some sort to house me. I was told I had to find a place independently as I could afford it.

Distant from sister

My sister had moved down to Birmingham some time before, but we hadn’t been in touch recently because she didn’t like my ‘druggy’ friends. She only came to visit me once in hospital. I hoped that she would come regularly but I felt she prioritised her boyfriend before me. She had arranged that when I came out however, that I would stay with her boyfriend’s friend.

Lost house again

That was fine for a few months until my ex started visiting again, and when I eventually succumbed to his persuasion and agreed to go away on holiday with him I was asked to leave the house I was in, as they didn’t understand why I would go back to him, plus they associated him to drugs which they didn’t approve of.

More insecurity

For a while I lived with an elderly man I’d befriended at hospital, but then that went wrong too, and I ended up moving back in with that guy and his parents again – it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I felt I had no choice. I was still waiting for the funding for the therapeutic community.

Worse than before

I hated living there and once again was not given a key to come in and out of the house with. When he started acting out and lying to me about where he was with and who he was with and wanting to go out and leave me at his house with his parents who didn’t even speak the same language as me, I couldn’t allow this and got hysterical a lot of the time.

Further self harm

When we both broke it off with each other I was aware that I still needed a roof over my head so I had to give in to all his demands. I just wanted out and away from him. I self harmed in pure anger with myself for allowing this to happen to me again.

Why me?

Parents’ separation

I feel my life was average until I was around 6-7 years old when my parents separated. I had 5 siblings including myself at that point – the first child from another man. My mum left my dad to go back to the father of her first child, moving myself and my siblings to London with her new partner, leaving my dad behind.

Abusive situation

I am not a 100% sure when we discovered that my mum’s partner was an abusive drunk. I think it was early on. My mum went on to marry this man. At some point my younger brother and I were sent to my dad 200 miles away for around a year. We were told that our step father didn’t like us because we looked more like our father than our mother.

Difficult separation

Although this seemed like the better option as we were no longer at the mercy of this man, it was difficult to be separated from my siblings and mother who I had grown up with all my life. Mum wrote and phoned now and again, visited not very often as she fell pregnant with her new husband’s child.

Disruption to education and friendships

The moving back and forth I feel disrupted my flow of making friends and studying as we were moved schools. Eventually, one Christmas holiday when visiting my mum, brother and sisters we were kept in London without any warning for us or our dad.

Lost mother to suicide at 9

My dad some months later was involved in a car accident which almost took his life. He had injured his leg badly in this accident and was unable to walk for a long time. A month or so later my mother committed suicide using alcohol and pills. I was nine years old at that time. It is still not clear in my mind why but my guess is the amount of physical and emotional abuse she suffered. It became too much.

Deprivation

We were living under poor depriving conditions and we were taught to steal from the shops and milk from people’s doorsteps. We didn’t do anything except go to school and come back home again. We ate the same food every day. Toast for breakfast and sandwiches for dinner; if we were lucky a few scoops of ice cream for dessert.

Given alcohol

We were given alcohol to drink now and again. Shopping me and my older brother did, which contained 10 loafs of bread from a cheap supermarket. I once stole a packet of chocolate bars and we ate them all on the way home.

Living in fear

We were scared to talk, we lived in fear. We would always be cleaning somewhere in the house. Otherwise we were in our rooms out of the way unless called to come downstairs and sit in the lounge on the floor in a corner. I and my older brother would be woken up early to massage our step father. One day when he was in a good mood he let us have eggs for breakfast, we felt privileged and later got to eat breakfast again with our other brother and sister.

Beaten for drinking juice

There were things like juice in the fridge, once I drank some and he noticed and we all had to stand in a line and confess who took it, but I was too scared to confess. Eventually I did but said it was my younger sister as well (it wasn’t) but she confessed to it with me and we both suffered a beating with a wooden stick which was our mother’s. (She had this stick as a result if her injuries as a result from her husband).

Older sibling sexually abused

My older sister stayed home from school instead of doing her GCSEs to look after her new little sister. It was not known to us all that my older half sister was being sexually abused by her father. At one point I think I questioned her and she told her dad about it and I remember being woken up in the middle of the night one night and brought down the stairs to confront him about it.

Physical abuse

He slapped me 9 times around the face that night and my punishment was to stand outside the house for hours the next day. I did stand outside the house for hours, until I got fed up and started banging on the window. The window cracked and I cut my hand. A neighbour saw and knocked on the door and they let me in. The step father wasn’t home; my half sister was carrying out the punishment on his behalf.

Call for help not reaching anyone

I once wrote a letter to my dad, telling him to come and collect us told him how terrible it was in London with this man. I was too young to understand how stamps worked, I found a used stamp and stuck it on the envelope and I hid the letter. Of course the letter was found and I am sure there was a lecture and beating for that.

Dad fought for custody

As our dad was still recovering from his car accident he was not in a fit state to claim custody of us straight away. He fought to get fit and eventually did get custody of just 3 of us. My younger sister and brother and I. For some reason my older brother couldn’t come straight away. I believe there was some talk that he perhaps came from a different father.

Brother joined us

A few months later my older and youngest step sister moved with their dad abroad, back to his home town. He married off his eldest daughter to one of his other children that he already had from another wife. When this happened my dad eventually got custody of my older brother.

Normal life felt like luxury

We lived normally with our dad, but everything felt luxurious to me, the food, the freedom, everything. I went from bones to a chubby/fat growing teenager. We eventually stopped being scared.

Lots bottled up

I think my depression began to grow when I went to secondary school. Although I was living with our father and life was free, there was so much bottled inside that hadn’t come out.

Inner blocks to learning

Learning was difficult. I was known as the clever one at school and at home. I wasn’t clever, I just listened and sat at the front of the class and tried. I do feel there was something else going on inside that blocked my ability to learn the way I should have.

No help from family

When I needed help with homework, there was no one I could ask because I was apparently the brightest in my family. My dad didn’t really have an educational background and my brothers and sister asked me if they were stuck. My dad would ask me to fill out these forms from the council, housing benefit etc.

Early domestic responsibilities

I was the eldest daughter so I felt things were expected from me, to cook, clean and generally help out my dad. When he had a girlfriend he would stay over sometimes. I remember always worrying about my dad because he was never any good at letting us know where he was. Night time was scary I found. My older brother would be out doing his own thing which meant I was the eldest looking after the younger two.

Struggled at school

School was ok, I always listened to the teacher and wasn’t one of those pupils that sat at the back of the class constantly disrupting. I never managed to learn properly and never got the grades that I wanted for my GCSEs. I struggled with homework but there was no one at home to help me do it. I was the brainiest in my family, which wasn’t even that clever – I just spelt better.

What’s helped

Talking and therapy

I feel therapy and just generally talking to people has helped me in ways that I cannot describe. I began opening up to a boss at work who advised me to see a GP. I did and she was wonderful. The GP had empathy and I visited her a few times just to talk. She put me in touch with a child psychologist for therapy as I just met the criteria in age 16-21.

Therapist felt I needed more than weekly therapy

After visiting this therapist once a week for a few months he eventually said that a session a week was not enough and he felt that I needed to be in a more of a supported environment. I agreed with this as I was not in a stable home or place in my thoughts.

Safety of the therapeutic community

Eventually after funding was agreed, I moved in to a therapeutic community where I still live today. I cannot explain to you how exactly my suicidal and self harming thoughts went away but just living in a place where I know I can return every night and feel safe was a huge important factor for me. I am being held in this supported system until I am able to hold myself.

Variety of therapies and house meetings

There is always someone around to talk to whether it be staff or residents. Through the different kind of therapies we do here and the numerous house meetings we have a week, people are able to share and explore their feelings together. It has made a huge impact on my life to the point where I now can see myself having a future.

Building a meaningful future

Not any future but a future I want. I am now embarking upon volunteer work in the mental health sector and am pursuing a career in the helping professions at college and then hopefully university. I want to help and support others who are need and help them to live their live and fulfil their potential the way I am starting to.

What I’ve learnt

Get help to understand your own life factors contributing to depression

In conclusion I feel the events that I have explained in this life story resulted in my severe depression and break downs through out my life. I have struggled and still do struggle to cope with the traumatic events that have occurred in my life.

Get help to support you and listen

I understand now that it was help that I needed; someone to support me through my difficult times and someone to listen to my thoughts and feelings. I needed to overcome all the anxiety, pain and loneliness and most importantly I needed to grieve for my mother.
Someone to listen is the best medicine

I strongly believe, simply having someone to listen to you is the greatest medicine any one can have.

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