Eradicating the little voice

I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I had just turned 19.

I was told this was something I’d been dealing with for years prior to being diagnosed, but had no idea. I had gone through High School without even as much as a hint of a clue. Possibly even Primary School.

Being told this was one of the biggest metaphorical blows I’ve ever had to deal with. I’d been very down and unhappy for a long while, but I didn’t think I would be told that. Come to think of it, until then, I’d never realised just how down and unhappy I really was.

I had a very depressive view of life. I thought negatively about everything, especially myself. I was constantly putting myself down, underestimating and undermining myself and questioning my worth as a human being. I felt like I had no purpose. Why was I here? Really, why? I broke down in tears a lot. I generally broke down, a lot. I would purposefully spend lots of time in my bedroom alone, crying, sobbing so much until I completely tired myself out. Until my head was throbbing. Until my eyes were red raw and puffy. My hands shook and quivered a lot, like I was constantly in fear, in a constant state of anxiety. I hated answering my phone or engaging in much meaningful conversation with anybody. I wanted to be on my own pretty much all the time. I overslept a lot. I could be in bed all day and still fall asleep. But I couldn’t sleep a wink at night. I had no interest in doing anything. I felt like I didn’t have anything to get up for. I would go through periods of erraticness, where I felt like I HAD to be doing SOMETHING. Whether it was doing the dishes as fast as humanly possible or sorting through paperwork like a machine, I HAD to be doing SOMETHING. And then I would deflate again and not want to use a single muscle. I was convinced that I had no possibilities. Whenever someone took time out of their day to speak to me, even if it was a random stranger greeting me as they walked by, I would think they had a hidden agenda. ‘They’re saying that sarcastically, they don’t really mean it.’ kind of thing. I ended up feeling vengeful towards other people, I felt like they were all out to get me. Like they were all laughing and sneering at me behind my back. I didn’t care about anything. Least of all myself. Smiling was so rare that I almost forgot how to do it.

It was almost like I had a constant presence in my mind who told me I wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t deserve to be happy. That life would never work out for me anyway so I should just stop trying. That I was so hideously ugly that I should just hide away from the world. I thought absolutely nothing of myself. In my mind I was literally worthless. I had no appeal, brain capacity or talents. Looking in the mirror was painful. Looking in it and not welling up with tears was rare. Whenever I looked at myself I saw nothing. A person who life didn’t favour. Someone completely on their own. Any opportunity that potentially came my way was met with fear, and an attitude of ‘it’ll never happen to me anyway, so, why bother?’ Life wasn’t filled with opportunities for people like me. Or so the little voice in my head told me. I had no respect for myself. The only exercise I got was taking my dog for a sloth-ly slow walk. I would pretty much just wander around, leash in hand and think about how much better life would be if I were a dog. People would walk past me but I wasn’t really seeing them. I got absolutely no health benefits from it or what I was eating. I wouldn’t cook or even throw some kind of a meal together, ever. All I ate was junk food. I just did not care.

I had nightmares and visions. I would see things. Really, horrific things. I’d have visions of someone breaking into my house and attacking me and my family. Of my dog being run over right in front of me. Of my family members dying. Or witnessing someone being murdered.

It didn’t matter who tried to inspire me or lift my spirits for even half an hour, nothing and no one could remove the giant rain cloud which hung over me. Everything was in doubt. And this doubt was going nowhere soon.

After being diagnosed I was put on medication and started counselling. My counsellor got me to talk about my past experiences, good and bad. My family, my friends. My interests. My hobbies. My time at School. They got me to talk about the bullying I went through in great depth. This was something I had never talked to anyone about before. This was something I hadn’t even told anyone about before. They got me to more-or-less pin point the root of my depression (they were pretty sure that being bullied had something to do with it) and address my thinking pattern. This was no mean feat and most certainly did not happen overnight. It took a while, but they got me to completely change the way I thought about things. I started to think more literally, clearly. Instead of just immediately writing everything off before you could blink. It was like using reverse psychology on the voice in my head. ‘Actually, I CAN do this.’ I was offered help with regards to my eating and exercise patterns and began swimming on a regular basis. Ironically, for someone who has a fear of deep and rushing water, I absolutely love swimming. It completely relaxes me and is a form of exercise I thoroughly enjoy. This exercise alone improved my mood significantly. I had more energy and my sleeping pattern was completely reinvented. I started forcing myself to think positive thoughts which wasn’t easy, it was like an internal battle, but eventually the positivity started to take over with my counsellor’s help.

The help I received from my counsellor and their methods of reversing my thought pattern is without a doubt the thing that’s had the biggest impact on getting myself back on track. Without it, even though swimming and a better diet have helped immensely, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today. There are some elements which I’m still trying to fight. But that’s just it – I AM fighting it.

I’m by no means fully recovered. It’s still a work in progress. But, I can honestly say that I’m at a brilliant place right now compared to where I was this time two years ago. I feel like I’m almost back to my old self. A positive thinker who is determined to change the world. Happy. Ambitious. Caring and empathetic. Friendly. Fun. Outgoing. With genuine talents. And people around her who love her.

I’ve never talked about this publicly before because I simply didn’t think I was in the right place to do so. But I feel like now, I can confidently tell anyone who is currently dealing with any form of depression that it CAN get better. Addressing what kinds of things are ‘normal’ to think and what’s not is part of the key to actually recognising that you’re unwell and getting yourself diagnosed, I think. It’s what got me to go to the Doctor in the first place. It’s not an easy thing to do AT ALL when dealing with depression but Google is a wonderful tool and there are so many different organisations and charities who can help you take the first step. If you doubt that voice in your head for a split second – that’s all the wake up call you need to go and speak to someone! I know first hand how difficult it is to get this kind of message through to someone suffering with this but – if you are and even if you’re not – I would just like to tell you that you are worth more than you’ll ever know. Your life has so many different meanings, you have to live it to find out what they are! It’s OK to ask for help. If you need to, DO IT. Don’t let anyone stop you. YOU are in control of you. There are so many people who love you, some of which you may not even be aware of. You posses an array of different talents and are more intelligent than you think! As a human being you are valued and have the same rights as everyone else. You are stunningly beautiful inside and out.

Scottish Association for Mental Health (Scotland)

Young Minds (UK)

Action on Depression (Scotland)

Mind (UK)

Sane (UK)

Together (UK)

MindFull (UK)

Advertisements

About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

One comment

  1. I laughed out loud, not because it was funny but because this was exactly me. “Everyone is out to get me” was my general thoughts and now I’m getting better i realise how ridiculous that seems (although I do still slip into that attitude from time to time, I understand it is in my own head!) Reading this is like reading about my own experience. Well Done on writing this, it really will help a lot of people and will do wonders for you, too 🙂 You are very brave xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: