Talking key, no matter who listens
A Herald reader shares her hidden, often painful journey toward mental health. She urges openness but given the subject matter, the Herald has not named her to ensure privacy as gets the help she needs.
Inever thought I’d want to kill myself. The idea of suicide had always been abhorrent to me which is why I was so shocked when I found myself contemplating doing just that.
Night after night I would prepare myself for it. I won’t go into detail - it’s something I would never want anyone else to consider.
I harmed myself. Sometimes, I would show up to work with a new set of angry red lines criss-crossing my arm. I knew my colleagues knew. Nobody said a word.
I’d think about all the ways I could leave it all behind until I’d simply give up, curl into a ball, and cry until I couldn’t breathe.
I found myself crouched on the bathroom floor at work at least three times a day, frantically trying to wipe away tears that I couldn’t explain.
Perhaps the hardest part was trying to understand why I felt the way I did. There didn’t appear to be anything that had sparked my deep, seemingly irreversible depression.
I had not lost a loved one, I’d not been through a relationship break up, I had a good job I was passionate about, and a great network of family and friends.
There was nothing that I could pinpoint as a cause, which made the crushing sense of hopelessness and self-loathing I experienced for months that much worse.
Now that I can think more clearly, now that I’ve spoken to a GP and am on medication that has done away with the fog that clouded every rational thought that tried to break through, I understand that there doesn’t have to be a reason. Depression is something that can, and does, affect people from every race,religion, gender, and socio-economic class.
Depression does not discriminate. And when it hits, boy, do you know about it.
People with depression or other mental illnesses are always told to seek help. Be open about it, the TV ads say.
Talk to someone you trust. Tell them how you’re feeling. It’s fantastic advice, and advice that I believe ultimately saved my life. But it’s bloody hard.
The first person I told, during a night out, that I was depressed and self-harming, never brought up the issue again.
Now I understand that they may have not known how to react, or what to do.
At the time, I felt like it just proved what my screwed up brain was telling me- that I was worthless, that I didn’t matter, that nobody would care if I didn’t wake up in the morning.
That incident sent me spiralling. It took me months before I gave confiding in someone another try.
It was someone I trusted, someone whose opinion of me mattered more than most people’s, and who I knew had been through their own struggles.
I told this person I was considering seeing a GP, which to me, felt like a huge admission of weakness.
The support I received from that person gave me the courage to book the appointment.
My GP was fantastic. She made me feel, for the first time, that this was something I could beat. That I didn’t have to put up with the black cloud that was my constant companion. That I was not defined by my depression. It has now been about a month since I had that appointment. It may not seem like long, but the change I’ve experienced has been momentous.
Looking back, I now understand why the cliche messages are so important. Opening up to someone, particularly after a bad first experience, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
It felt like I was admitting something shameful. Ultimately, I now realise talking to someone who knew the person I could be was the best thing I could have done.
It saved my life. I honestly believe that. I would urge anyone going through something similar to just talk. Talk to a friend. Talk to a colleague. Talk to a teacher, a classmate, someone online, a health professional.
It doesn’t really matter who is listening. What matters is that you are talking, and that you want to know how to feel better.
It’s not easy. It might the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But your life is worth it.
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