How depression has affected me
Everything feels too hard
Everything seems to be going fine and then you just wake up one morning and you don’t want to get out of bed. Simple things, like sometimes I’ll fear just reading my emails or picking up the phone. Everything feels like such a heavy, big task. It’s weird because I could have done it perfectly well the other day, but on that day I just feel drained; no energy at all. Just normal, everyday things. It seems like everything is too big
Don’t know what triggers depression
Not knowing what triggers it is hard. It just seems to me there should be an explanation of feeling that way – and it’s also quite hard having to explain why you feel that way and trying to manage it as well.
Scary waiting for it to come again
It’s scary as well because outside of those days you just wait. You are waiting for the next day that is going to be as bad. You don’t know how long it’s going to last and your friends are calling you to come out and you just cut them all off and they don’t understand why you are doing it.
Hiding feelings from others
I guess I become pretty good at hiding it because you feel like no one wants to be around you when you are in that mood and you feel isolated and alone. It’s kind of split me in a way. When I am happy I’ll put on this great big show of being perfectly fine and that’s part of the problem – wanting to be perfect in order to make up for the fact that there’s this other side of me that isn’t perfect and can be quite destructive.
I can usually see it coming and previously I would just withdraw from my friends, but not so much now. I always made sure that I was involved in lots of activities and made sure people knew so when different groups wanted to know where I was I could just say that with a different group. This makes the situation harder, but sometimes it’s the only way I know how to cope.
Pretending things are perfect
I feel like a coward at times. My family life is a disaster and I struggle at times with studying. Rather than seek help, I pretend that everything is perfect. I fool myself and those around, internalising the difficult things.
Resisting seeking help
I can’t do it myself but I can’t ask anyone for help because they’ll think I am being ridiculous. When I’ve been upset or disappointed; when I am struggling to cope with something and I need help I have the idea that I should be able to do it myself. What is wrong with me when I can’t? It’s the putting myself out there and showing a weaker side of me; I don’t want to do that.
I went to my tutors for help with course work and stuff and they were perfectly happy to help me and it was fine, but even when I walked away, in my head I was thinking ‘Now he thinks you are an idiot because you couldn’t do it yourself.’ It’s this critical voice always there; always over-analysing or mis-interpreting…
Difficulty with hope
When I feel depressed absolutely everything seems like a personal trial. Getting out of bed can take half a day. The worst times are when for a moment there seems like there is hope. Someone will make a joke, I’ll laugh and for a few moments I’ll think, “Hey, this isn’t so bad”. Then that moment will fade and I’ll feel even worse. I’m not sure who I’m angry at more for being happy, them or me.
Wanting it to end
I just hope that it’ll pass. I think ‘Why? What have I done? Why do I deserve this?’ And that can start the self pity. You go back and you start analysing and thinking ‘What did I do on this day? What did I do on that day? What action was fine then but I am interpreting it differently now?’ When you are in it you want to end it; you want everything to stop and part of you is thinking ‘How can I make it stop?’
That often leads me to just wanting to die; just thinking ‘If I’m dead, it stops and you get peace.’ If I go outside all I think about is how to kill myself and make it look like an accident. How easy would it be to cross the street with my eyes shut and see what happens? It’s this feeling of not caring. I think that if I can’t control the way I live, then I’m determined to control the way I die.
I once acted on the thoughts. I am diabetic as well and you know that if you stop taking the insulin, it will lead to death. I was about 18 and I just stopped taking it and I didn’t tell anyone and ended up in intensive care. Then I didn’t think much about it; now, it’s like I knew what the consequences would be. It was kind of like a passive way. Part of it was to make myself suffer because suffering is not nice and you feel awful and you are being sick.
Pressure of choices
I first noticed the depression when I was about 15. It started with GCSEs; you have to choose your GCSE’s, choose your A-levels, choose your degree, choose everything. It just seems like such a burden because of the constant testing, time after time. It just seemed like where would it end.
Fear of mistakes
I think it is that you have to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. I started to feel afraid, and I still am, of not getting it right the first time, and thinking that everyone is going to think badly of me because I can’t. Instead of thinking ‘Learn from your mistakes’ it was ‘What was wrong with me because I can’t get it right?’ That fear just started.
I guess that was where the trying to be perfect thing started. But the problem with trying to be perfect all the time is it feels like a cage. Keeping up that routine and making sure it was always right, that added to the depression.
Being a twin
It’s growing up and because I am a twin as well. At school, the teachers probably didn’t realise it, but they were always comparing us constantly. If one of us did better than the other at something, you end up feeling bad because the other one is going to be thought less of because they didn’t do as well. It was just more personal than being compared to another student because you don’t have to go home with that student. It was this feeling of she’s like this competitor but she’s also my sister and trying to find that balance.
Loss of identity
There was also the feeling that I couldn’t be an individual; I was always sort of as a twin so I couldn’t have my own identity. There was the feeling that people thought it was awful not wanting to be like your twin sister; that you wanted to do things for yourself. It adds to that kind of loss of identity.
Family didn’t allow difference
My mum couldn’t quite cope with the idea that we were two different people and neither could our family. They’d dress us the same and everything had to be the same with us. It was frustrating because they didn’t get to know us as two people; they got to know us as ‘The Twins.’
Sister has problems
My sister has problems with alcohol. We can talk about stuff up to a point. When we are together it is always like a happy world. We don’t really talk about the serious stuff. I have spoken to her about it but she is just not ready.
Just doing stuff to occupy my mind is good. Drawing, time out, watching movies. This is more to escape than anything else. Watching movies with happy ending helps remind me that things aren’t always so bad. They might have had a horrible time, but they eventually get through it – it’s that idea that there will be a turning point at some stage and it’s not the end.
If I can find a song to reflect my mood then it helps because I feel like I am not alone. I feel like someone else out there felt the same, it lifts the sense of isolation and gives a sense of empowerment.
Exercise gives me a sense of achievement and helps clear my head. It hard to make the effort, but once you are exercising you can block out the negative aspects of your life and gain some focus. I tried yoga but I find running and cycling better – because everything gets bottled up and if I can just release it in some way, that usually helps. The more I do this, the longer the effects stay with me after exercise.
Talking to friends
I have started talking to my friends as well, but not about everything. It’s been hard because they are kind of surprised. Whenever they see me, I’ve got this kind of perfect image, so I think they find it quite confusing trying to reconcile the two parts of me. Sometimes I tell them in a kind of joking way and they are not sure whether to take me seriously or not. Sometimes it makes me feel like an idiot or like I’m a burden. Sometimes the pity is the hardest part because I think ‘Who are you to pity me?’
Feeling more integrated
It’s hard, but it has also been good in bringing the two sides of me together and not being so torn. It takes part of the pressure off and it kind of reduces the barriers as well because I think with trying to be so perfect, it made it harder for them to relate to me. But now with me telling them how I feel, sometimes they’ll tell me how they feel…
I’ve had counselling for a year. It’s an hour a week and I can express what I’ve been going through but I don’t think it’s enough. It’s hard; so many times I’ve thought about giving up and walking away but something keeps me going back.
After I stopped the insulin at 18 and had to be in hospital, they wanted to medicate me but I refused…
Looking for meaning
Now, I could still stop taking my insulin and see what happens, but I can’t because something always kind of stops me. I think I am now more aware of how awful I felt back then. I think there was part of me that hated me; it’s not as strong now. Also, now more than ever, I have the wish to kind of prove to myself that I am here for a reason. If there really was no hope and I really did want to die I would have found a way to do it.
What I’ve learnt
Need to be more open
Starting to talk to friends I still fear being pities, but I realise pity is not necessarily a bad thing even though I just feel that it is. I want to be more open about my experiences and I think that if I write about it then I cannot hide from it any longer. I have worked so hard at trying to hide it, now I need to put some of the effort into hiding it into trying something else.
There are no easy answers
I also want to show people that life isn’t perfect and there are no easy solutions and hopefully believe it myself one day. Part of the answer is to break down that feeling of being isolated and it also builds on the idea that there is a way through it; that I am not the only one.