“Don’t judge me…?”

Trigger Warning: some mention of self harm

It’s not that I’m ashamed of what’s been; I’m just concerned that you won’t know how to accept it. I don’t mind you knowing and I don’t think its wrong what I’ve done, but all the same, when I smile and bounce about, I know, or at least I think I know, that you will feel uncomfortable hearing my story. So I’m not going to tell you it’s me, and I’m not going to show you my scars. I’m just going to tell you about it and keep you from me at a distance.
Depression is generally categorised into two lanes: a constant ‘low’ mood, and a specific illness such as a ‘depressive illness’.

One in ten people suffer from depression, with the odds far higher for women as one in four women will suffer from depression at some point compared to one in ten men. The truth is, because depression is a mental health illness, it is often pushed to the side and belittled to just be ‘hormones’ or a ‘cry for help’. It is because of this that far too many people suffering from depression do not seek help or treatment, often due to their own self-diagnosed dismissal, and instead learn to live with this illness undiagnosed and untreated. I did that, only I did it to myself, and now, years and scars later, .

At the dangerous age of 14 with hormones, bitches for friends and dicks for boyfriends, I found myself ‘sad’. It wasn’t the sort of sadness that went, but one that lingered and festered, eventually leading to me completely cutting myself off from my life and world. My friends weren’t allowed near me, I skived school to no end and for a good while I didn’t feel any fresh air. I’m surprised I didn’t grow tall and yellow in search of sunlight. My family didn’t see it, there were home issues going on, which upon reflection could be labelled as the cause, but the truth is I have no idea what put me in that place, I doubt I’ll ever know, I suppose it’s irrelevant. What caught my family’s attention were the oh-so typical ‘cry for help’ marks of self-harm. I wont go into details; we all know the typicality’s, and we all unfortunately know someone who’s been through it. Even now whilst writing this, it seems mad to think how much I was subject to my own state of mind all those years ago, how the smallest thing could shun me into a curtained cove in my room or send me out to the shops with a friend.

For a long while I paid no attention to what was causing my moods or why I was so sad and just assumed I was going through the dreaded teens stage, and it was only after my family caught me with my marks, that I started to question what was happening. As all ‘good’ school policies go, because my family alerted the school, I was ordered to undergo counselling. Waste. Of. Time. Really, the woman didn’t care and didn’t really know what to say, so much so that every session went far beyond the realm of awkward and ended up with me starting a conversation on Delia Smith just to avoid the painful silences. What made me actually see the reality of my situation were my friends. I didn’t have that many by this point, most had given up on me when I gave up on them, but some stuck around and it was those people whom I probably owe where I am today to. I remember just sitting with them during form time waiting for the register to be taken, when I dropped a paper clip in my water bottle and burst out crying. I remember feeling so frustrated at the bottle and just wanting to die. I didn’t understand why I was so angry and upset, all I knew was that I just wanted to sleep. I always wanted to sleep, and the more I slept the more exhausted I became, and the more exhausted I was the worse the world seemed.

I’ll stop my story there, because the thing that I feel right now, is that in some way or another, you here reading this right now, know exactly what I’m on about and have probably gone through it too. Doesn’t that scare you? It frights the f**k out of me, knowing that so many have experienced it but ignored it and dismissed it as a bad mood or a few ‘low’ days. For me, it got worse after it was diagnosed, and because I didn’t accept it, I refused all medications and determined that it was my fault and therefore I would sort it out myself. I don’t know if that was a good or bad move, but it’s what I did and maybe it would have been a much shorter process had I of just swallowed my pride (and the pills) but I didn’t, and I can only say what I know, and that is, that like many mental illnesses, it never really goes, you just learn to deal with it.

Society has a tendency to see the person as a label, as a mascot for the disorder, such as an anorexic as opposed to a person with blonde hair and 10 GCSE’s. When I was given my label, I rejected it, I didn’t want to become ‘that’ one who we have to be extra nice to, I just wanted to pretend it didn’t exist. I didn’t want the stigma. It’s only now, years on that I see that the problem with that wasn’t me not wanting to distress others with the burden of having to be sensitive when around me, but it was the lack of education in society that didn’t explain to people how to continue seeing me as the person who made them laugh, and likes to drink Diet Coke through a straw, but as this half-person, this semi-capable being who at any moment might just break should an uncensored comment be made. I didn’t want to be seen as a ‘charity case’ that required energy, effort, time and goodwill from those around me. I didn’t want to be their act of Samaritanism for the day.
The dangers of mental illnesses are that you can’t see it, and when you do, you freak out. If you yourself suffer from a mental illness, or know someone who does, then the only real advice is that there is no one blanket rule in how to cope or live with it. I’ll probably never officially overcome my personal situation, and who knows maybe one day I’ll find myself once again avoiding the world and hiding behind my curtains, but one thing I know that can and must be challenged is the way we look at mental illnesses. Too many people choose to ignore the realities of their situations because of the fear of what society may say. The only way forward, as a community, is to educate ourselves in the reality of what it means to have a mental disorder. Don’t think that just because someone doesn’t look like they have a problem, means they don’t.

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