Talk­ing key, no mat­ter who lis­tens

The Timaru Herald - - HOMED -

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.

— Con­trib­uted

PHOTO: DOUG FIELD/STUFF

A head in­jury af­fected Alisha Martin’s men­tal health — and flo­ral cre­ativ­ity has helped her as she re­cov­ers.

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