Severe/complex depression

Elena is still working on overcoming her depression, but she is no longer concerned about suicide and feels that she has learnt how to manage the depression better.

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For Gareth, depression also brings anxiety and paranoia. Undiagnosed dyslexia and other learning difficulties meant he was in his mid-20s when he first went to university.

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Aged 30 and a student for the first time, after a difficult childhood and lifelong bouts of depression, Tonya feels on top of her depression much of the time – though it can still affect her on occasion.

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Mike relates his depression back to living as a black child in an area of the country with very little cultural diversity and experiencing a lot of bullying.

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Having always thought needing to talk to someone made you ‘weak’, Darren now says that going for counselling was the best thing he ever did…

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Becky stubbornly refused to seek help or confide in anyone, so it was only when an acquaintance forced her to talk that she began to turn things around…

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Severe bullying at school and betrayal by a best friend meant that Ben came to hate himself and found it very hard to trust others. He came close to suicide but is proud of building his life back up again.

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Bullying at school set Katie off in a downward spiral towards a suicide attempt at 17. Following a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome she has learnt what helps her combat both CFS and depression…

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A homophobic upbringing meant Craig struggled to come out to his parents and to fully accept himself, leading eventually to drug and alcohol addiction. Inpatient rehab helped him return to uni

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After a tough childhood in the Ukraine, Tomas was suddenly moved to the UK as a teenager and had difficulties relating to his new stepfather and adapting in school. Depression led to a suicide attempt and has affected his studies…

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Tasha had noticed a regular pattern of mood swings during her teens, but was only recently diagnosed officially with bipolar disorder. She has learnt self-help strategies to supplement medication…

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Racism and confusion over her mixed-race identity gave depression a way in to Leigh’s life. Grief over a miscarriage more recently ‘pushed her to the edge’, but she has found several creative strategies for moving forward…

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After several separate episodes of depression and anxiety starting when his parents split up, part time postgraduate student Will has learnt to accept his depression as a part of him that he needs to learn to live with and manage..

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An international PhD student, Alma made a serious suicide attempt in her teens and has battled with depression for most of her life. Intensive therapy has given her tools to help manage her depression and live productively…

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Both Lucy’s parents have had bouts of depression and her GP says she has ‘bipolar’ tendencies. Her depression and self harm started young, and although she feels she will never be totally free from it she feels she can live a good life and not let it rule her…

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During Iona’s most recent episode of depression she needed to plan strategies for keeping herself safe when her suicidal impulses felt overwhelming. Telling others how she felt, medication and CBT have all helped her back onto a more even keel…

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Coming out as gay early in secondary school added to the effects of a turbulent family life for Dani, who turned to daily self harm to cope with her self loathing and depression. Counselling and the support of friends and her partner has helped her turn things around…

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Postgrad international student Joshua has battled insecurity and self-loathing developed over a lifetime of comparison with a high-achieving elder sibling, but in recent years has started to replace depressive rumination with compassionate self-understanding…

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Nicky was a painfully shy child who was then bullied at secondary school. After many years of self harming in a variety of ways, she was finally able to seek help herself and build a support network at university, including a mentor funded by the Disabled Student’s Allowance…

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A stressful move from primary to secondary school for Emma led to a rapid loss of confidence and vulnerability to depression. Struggling alone she found her mental health increasingly deteriorating into OCD and psychosis. Inpatient care from the adolescent psychiatric team helped her back on track…

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A family history of depression, problems with parents and bullying at school all made Simon vulnerable to increasingly severe bouts of depression and self harm. Professional help including group counselling has helped him engage with his postgraduate course and a more supportive relationship…

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Bullying, a bad accident, and a mother with mental illness contributed to Martha’s depression and suicide attempt at 16. Professional help through the mental health services have helped her learn coping strategies to manage her overwhelming feelings and give up a variety of self harming behaviours…

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A traumatic childhood of deprivation and abuse left Daya vulnerable to severe depression from an early age. With a history of troubled relationships, self harm and suicide attempts, she eventually found sanctuary in a therapeutic community which gave the support she needed to turn her life around.

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After suffering serious physical abuse from an alcoholic mother and losing his home, Pete has had to fight hard for his education and is embarking on his first year at uni after successfully completing a college Access course…

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Several traumatic incidents and a difficult bereavement left Donna battling depression and post-traumatic stress, but with the help of religious faith and a determination not to be defeated she now describes herself as happy, strong and confident.

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Hospitalised at 12 for suicidal intent after her father’s unacknowledged mental illness made home life unbearable, Mina gradually took control over the depression which still sometimes affects her and now describes herself as a basically happy person.

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Harry’s upbringing was significantly affected by his father’s undiagnosed bipolar disorder. His own severe and long-standing depression has been eased mainly through long-term cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) from his university counselling service.

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Racist bullying and isolation brought about severe depression and suicide attempts for Angus, but he now channels his feelings into his creative pursuits and studies and vows to resist the depression so his tormentors will never ‘win’.

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