Depression and Me: My Story.
If you have read my blog before you will know that I am an avid campaigner about mental illness and talking about our mental health.
But I don’t think I have ever told my story.
With it being Feb 1st; national #TimeToTalk day I thought I would share my story, journey and battle with mental illness.
I was officially diagnosed with depression back in September 2015, and i started taking medication for it.
However my journey with my mental illness started a long time before that.
To give you a bit of background information I was born healthy but at the age of 7 i broke my arm and a year later was finally diagnosed with Arthritis.
My biological parents are both feisty, assertive, bossy and argumentative all these traits I learned from them and this became the backbone of my character,
For the majority of my life these traits were more than useful, my independence and stubbornness kept me moving, along with my parents help of course, this ensured I didn’t seize up and end up in a wheelchair full time. My assertiveness gave me the confidence to talk candidly about my health with my Doctors and tell them when I was unhappy with something and my argumentative side gave me the fire in my belly to fight back when my peers were nasty and bullied me for being different, for being disabled.
I never really let these traits be a negative to my conscious behaviour, even when it did get me in trouble or bring me to loggerheads with my own Mother.
My sight started to deteriorate when I was 14 and I was registered as blind in June 2007.
My deterioration in sight and my impending sightless made me a very angry teenager to be around.
I felt I was losing my independence and hated that my body was throwing more crap in my biological path.
I exclaimed on several occasions that i would take my own life if I lost my sight completely. This was not a flippant remark, I meant every word.
Through a lot of persuasion on the part of my family and friends I reluctantly agreed to attend a specialist college to take my A Levels.
After getting over myself and feeling weird about being around a bunch of blind weirdos; yes, I was a dick. I quickly realised that I was going to enjoy my new found freedom very much, I was living away from home, making new friends and could get all the support I needed to complete my A Levels without having to fight for it.
My social life was in full swing and my education took a backseat to my freedom and friendships.
I made friends with one particular girl who was my twin, this meant we had a lot of fun, being mischievous but it also meant we locked , horns, argued and fell out frequently.
Our campus was so small that everyone was friends with everyone, and we all knew each others’ business. As you can probably imagine, arguing and falling out with a friend meant people took sides and made opinions.
With my assertive and argumentative behaviour this meant i always felt qualified to argue my point and assume dominance.
I suffered several severe deteriorations in my sight and alongside the campus being either a hub of angst, frustration and backstabbing my mental health was clearly taking a nose dive.
It took me a very long time to realise that it wasn’t just my environment making me this way, I was hard work, unhappy and unpleasant to be around.
I tried to seek some support in the form of counselling but quickly realised that my information was not confidential which made me angrier and more withdrawn.
I finished my A Levels, moved back home and worked as a teaching assistant for a year before heading off to Uni.Living back home with my Mum brought on a new host of angst and arguments but on the whole I was happier and felt my dark days were behind me.
I attended Uni and loved just about everything about it, i lost more sight and started to find getting around and keeping up with my work a struggle,although my course leaders and department were supportive the disability support unit was not,
I began to realise that my frustration and sadness were starting to get the better of me, although i had a great support network of friends who went above and beyond to assist me and make me feel welcomed i knew it was time to ask for support from a professional.
My sightless was encroaching on my day to day life and I wanted support on how to handle my emotions, especially because I was allowing my frustration to get the better of me.
I put myself on the RNIB waiting list for emotional support and counselling.
And whilst I waited I took it upon myself to sort my educational support out for the next academic year.
I lost my sight in September 2013. I was in the hospital and had just had an operation on my eye.
I was in pitch blackness and I didn’t realise this until hours after my operation.
The next day I realised i could see light, and received my first counselling session on the phone from the RNIB.
The combination of these two things and having my Mum by my side and family on the phone suddenly gave me a renewed sense of purpose.
I got stuck into mobility and orientation lessons, weekly counselling sessions and fighting with my university for the right support to continue my studies.
I didn’t cry about my sightless until 4 months after i lost my sight.
I wasn’t in denial, I just had focus and purpose. My steely determination, stubbornness and assertive traits allowed me to focus on what I did have, regain my independence and get my life back on track.
As the months passed I became more confident, more independent and made new friends; I found a local sightless charity giving those in the community a place to meet people and make new friends.
I moved house, got myself a boyfriend and went on adventures with my new friends.
I fought for 2 years to get back on my feet and go back to university. By now all my friends had graduated, moved away and got jobs.
Realising Uni was a dead end, I started looking for jobs, this proved unsuccessful, with no qualifications or work experience that they were looking for I hit a brick wall… Metaphorically as well as physically.
I found myself getting lost frequently when I left the house, walking into walls and doors, dropping and spilling things on an almost daily basis.
I was angry, upset, frustrated, unhappy, demotivated and hated being blind.
Gary Took the full force of my rants, tirades and ugly crying episodes.
He listened, consoled me, pepped me up and made me laugh.
We would talk about it, hug it out and carry on. After a few months we both recognised there was a pattern emerging and it was Gary who suggested I speak with the Doctors about how I was feeling.
We Went to the Doctors, explained what had been happening the last few months, expressed how I felt and asked for help.
My Doctor was very kind and supportive. I was given an emotional health form to fill out, sharing how I felt on my worst days and returned to the Doctors with my form.
From everything I had told her and the answers I had given on my form she confirmed that I had depression and gave me a few options of how to proceed from there.
I could choose counselling, medication or both.
I opted for the medication.
I had been on my antidepressants for just a few weeks, only just getting over the horrendous side affects when I spent a few days continuously watching YouTube and in particular people with disabilities talking about their lives and the public perceptions of having a disability.
I became transfixed and ended up watching video after video of Fashioneyesta and Yesterday’s Wishes.
Their channels made me laugh and appreciate life with a disability can really suck sometimes but it’s what you make of it and your mindset that matters.
Thus Thinking Out Loud was born,
I wanted to be a platform to share my story and educate the public.
I was asked questions on a daily basis and I wanted to be a resource where people that had these questions could find the answers.
I wanted to build a community and most importantly find the funny side of having a disability.Because it really isn’t all doom and gloom.
I had a new focus and i was on medication to help assist me on keeping my chemical imbalance on an even keel,
I read great blogs, made amazing friends and found a way to channel my negativity into positivity.
It’s now 2018, I have been through some mentally and physically tough times; attempted and failed to come off my antidepressants more than once and I have made this blog my home.
The friends and experiences I have made through creating this blog have been a lifeline to me when I have been in my darkest moods.
My mental health is on a new rollercoaster as I have just revisited the Doctor because my energy, mood and emotional state was changing.
My Doctor has increased my antidepressants to a higher dose and I am on the NHS waiting list to have counselling.
I will report back in a few weeks to let you know if things improve or atleast plato to keep me balanced.
I have depression, I am on medication to support me with this, I still have my down days and I may be on medication for the rest of my life.
I am not ashamed to say it, and I will not stop talking about it.
I want to let you know that you are never alone, we may not share the same mental illness or even the same symptoms but I am here.
You have a friend in me and never be afraid to reach out and tell someone how you feel.
If you know someone who may need some support; be that person they can talk to..
You don’t have to say anything or fix the problem, you just have to be there, to listen.
Talking can save someone’s life. Let’s talk about our mental health and be part of the change.