Six years of fighting depression

Six years of fighting depression

Thirteen

Depression for me started off as a realisation that everything in my life was fragile. That everyone was going to die, everyone was eventually going to leave in some way. That there’s no ‘happy ending’, no magic reunions. That we have this one life and horrible things happen to good people for absolutely no reason and that there’s nothing I can do to protect the people who I love from the bleakness of our own existence.

Fourteen

And then, the question why. Why am I here? Why do I have to stay here? I suddenly start thinking that actually, I don’t want to be alive, and actually, I want to do something about it. A body that doesn’t feel like mine, a mind that convinces me that it’s always going to be like this. The constant guilt that I deserved what happened to me. The nagging voice in the back of my head saying there’s no other way. Sitting in a Physics lesson dreaming about suicide.

Fifteen

The isolation. Minimise the casualties in the havoc that I felt was coming. Build my walls up so high that nobody can ever get in again. I don’t want to be better. I hate myself for still being here. Suddenly, the self-harm that has slowly spread across my body is no longer enough. I can’t withstand the thoughts anymore. And then suddenly I’m fifteen and I’m being rushed to the emergency department and having my insides pumped when I should be hanging out over the park or whatever it was that normal teenagers got up to that I never did.

Sixteen

A blur. Flashing blue lights and empty medicine cabinets and blood everywhere. My boyfriend screaming at me that I’m not only ruining my own life but I’m also ruining his and he can’t take it anymore. Awkward silences in waiting rooms full of other kids with those vacant eyes and heavy hearts. Breaking things and running away. Fighting to live vs. fighting to die. Crying myself to sleep every single night. Wondering how on earth things ever got like this when I had so much ‘promise’ as a kid.

Seventeen

Being so close to death that I can actually feel it. All willingness to live leaving my body. Complete peacefulness washing over me. And then, the anger. The anger of still being alive. Of being forced to stay. Anger with myself for not even being good enough at this one thing that could set me free. Mental health act assessments and being restrained by sweaty members of staff and being sedated and waking up in the middle of the night into a panic attack because for a moment you forgot that you must have two members of staff sat by your bedside in case you try to kill yourself. Again. Sometimes I feel like I might actually be dead and I’m just stuck in hell.

Eighteen

Acceptance for the first time in my life. That I’m unwell, that I have depression, that I’m young and I have things to live for. It’s always there, under the surface, but I’m resisting it. I take my medication, go to my appointments, try to tell myself that it’s alright to stay. Sometimes it snaps and all I want to do is just disappear. I get to university and it isn’t what I thought it would be. I didn’t make friends straight away. People aren’t as understanding about mental health as the friends that knew me ‘before’ were. I still feel lonely and I end up hurting myself worse than ever before and being dragged back into hospital but also falling in love and meeting my best friend in the entire world and having those nights where I just feel so fucking alive. I feel electric.

Nineteen

I still have depression. I struggle with it everyday, more than anyone probably knows. I think about suicide a lot and I dwell on shit that I need to let go and I make silly mistakes a lot of the time because I have this horrific attitude of ‘I’m not going to be around that much longer anyway’. I cry because this isn’t how things should be in ‘recovery’ and I cry because other people can’t deal with my illness, and I cry because I am just hurting all the fucking time.

But I’m more than depression, and I’m not going anywhere. No matter how hard things get, I’m still breathing and I’m still surviving, and I’m still fighting. I’m a daughter, a sister, a grand-daughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend. I’m someone’s first kiss, someone’s first love, someone who is integral to the memories of all the lives I’ve been involved with. And there are so many things I am and am yet to be, but lost to suicide is not one of them.

 

Breaking the attachment

Breaking the attachment

‘It’s not that you’re not a lovely person, you’re just very intense’ 

‘You can’t be messaging me constantly. You need to move on’ 

‘I’m sorry. You’re just not the kind of person anyone would have a stable relationship with’ 

Clingy. Needy. Dramatic. Emotional. Embarrassing. Obsessive. Crazy. Since I was 13 I’ve been called all of these names. My ‘love life’ (or rather, absence of it) has been defined by a series of debilitating attachments to partners who could tolerate me in the short-term, but soon became tired of my struggle to control my mental health issues.

It’s difficult for me to say this because I don’t fully believe it, but I’m going to say it anyway. This isn’t my fault. 

My adolescent and teenage years have been largely blurred into one fog of severe depression and self-hatred. As a kid, I was bullied for being ‘nerdy’ and unattractive. I had funny round glasses and curly hair and I wore matching clothes with my siblings literally until I was in secondary school. I felt like I was always on the outside of friendship groups, always a squeaky voice trying to get a word in edge ways, and always being elbowed out of the picture.

When I was in Year 5 (so 9 or 10 years old), I started having frequent panic attacks about dying. I would be staring into space and suddenly, for the first time, be so aware of my own mortality. That this was it. That one day it’s going to be nothing. That there’s no back-up plan, and I’m essentially alone. I remember crying in bed with my sister on the lower bunk and me on the top and me saying ‘If there is another life after this, do you think we would ever see each other again?’.

Around this age I also had a close friend who had come to live in Nottingham for a few months whilst his parents worked here. He was from Sweden and he couldn’t speak English very well, and I spent almost all of my time at school with him when he was there. When he left, I was really upset. I realised that I would probably never see him again. I began to worry about when the ‘last time’ I would speak to each of the important people in my life would be.

And then of course, comes the worst parts. The parts that I try not to remember, but sometimes hit me when I’m about to fall asleep, or I’ve just woken up, or I’m walking alone and suddenly my thoughts go into overdrive.

How is it possible to know how to have a healthy relationship, when your whole adult knowledge of ‘love’ has been based on the objectification of your own body?

It would be easy to hate the people who treated me so badly. It would be easy to blame them for what I’ve become. But it would be pointless. From the older ‘boyfriend’ who pressured me into having sex when I hadn’t even started my period and had no idea how sex even worked, to the friends that spread round the school that I was a ‘slag’ for coming to them in distress about this. The casual assault in the classroom with teenage boys putting their hands up my skirt and groping my behind and asking me questions I was too young to know the answers to. A male ‘friend’ slapping my arse whilst doing cross-country, only for the PE teacher to tell me when I’m complained that ‘boys will be boys’. To the person who took advantage and humiliated me whilst I was blind drunk, to those who tried to blackmail me into sending inappropriate pictures, to the random man who followed me home from school three times in a row.

Even now, it’s still happening. And sometimes I’m letting it happen. My body doesn’t feel like mine because for me, it never has been.

And it just means that when someone doesn’t treat me like shit, doesn’t force me into sleeping with them, or turn abusive when I assert my own voice, I find it incredibly difficult to let go. Even when after the ‘honeymoon period’ of a new partner being all lovely, they start turning out like all the others. It’s something I’m working on. I know I deserve better.

My favourite quote of all time is ‘It is both a blessing a curse to feel everything so very deeply’, and I think it describes my attachment issues related to emotionally unstable personality disorder really well. I can get attached to people. It breaks my heart that not everyone in our lives is here to stay. But we all play our part, and this works alongside the revived love I constantly feel towards so many people. Relationships on all levels are complicated for me, but they mean something really important. They mean that I’m not alone and I’m more than a sad story.

 

 

My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning

My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning

I have scars from years of self-harming. I have scars in places that are always covered, I also have scars in other places that are almost impossible to hide. My body is covered in these red, purple, pink lines. Some are fat, some are thin. Some I can remember the exact moment when it happened, others have just disappeared into the blur of an adolescence filled to the brim with depression and self-hatred.

I don’t like having scars. It’s horrible. It isn’t beautiful and it isn’t romantic. It’s a shitty reality of attempting to reclaim my body in the worst possible way. Splitting the skin open to wash everything away, to get back what someone else took from me. To prove that it’s mine to love, but mine to destroy.

Except, it still isn’t mine. It still doesn’t feel like it’s mine. People think that because I have these marks on my skin, they can tell me what to do with my body. That I am suddenly weighed down with this responsibility to cater to everyone else’s expectations. That it’s not socially acceptable for my skin, my skin, to be acknowledged in public. If they don’t see it, they can pretend that it doesn’t exist.

It’s understandably difficult for some people to understand why someone would self-harm. It’s also difficult for those who have struggled, to see the marks on someone else’s skin and be reminded of their own suffering. It’s alright to be upset by scars. It is confusing and distressing to try to comprehend. But it’s not alright to inflict your own upset or confusion right back at someone.

My life isn’t an Instagram post. My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning. I have an illness and these are the marks that my illness have left on me. To cover up or not, it’s my own choice.