Wrote this up for a depression guide on a forum that I use, to help others who are suffering. It's just my history of depression and life over the last 5 years, really.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was 16. Looking back, I can see that it probably started a lot earlier, but the first time I was aware of it was when I had a massive argument with my parents. I was so frustrated and angry the only thing that I could think of to do to calm myself down was scratching my arm with a pin. The mood swings were blamed on hormones and being a teenager, but now I recognise that they were probably the result of a mild depression.
I moved through the next two years occasionally harming myself superficially, but generally managing – even though I was rarely motivated to do my A level work or to take care of myself, being overweight and rarely bothering to shower or even brush my hair before school. I failed my A levels but got offered a place at university to study a subject that I just wasn’t interested in. Not wanting to lose face and admit that I was unsure about what to do with my university place, I took it and lived at the university for 5 months. It soon became apparent that university would only exacerbate my personality disorder. In halls I had no stability and quickly fell out with my flatmates, stopped eating properly (I lost nearly a stone and a half between September and Christmas) and was ill all the time. Self-harming was no longer a tool of frustration, it was an addiction and I was cutting every day. I started to think that I would be better off dead, as it would be less hassle. When I came home at Christmas I told my parents I could no longer carry on there but they persuaded me to try a few more months to see if it was just homesickness. I called them at the end of January and told them I was coming home, whether they liked it or not, and in February I left university.
When I got back home, for a while I was ok. I was back with my friends, my family and I felt secure. The self-harming cycle I was gripped in at university was broken and I was starting to think about my future. I got a job in a hospital as an health care assistant which I enjoyed initially; unfortunately we had a lot of suicide patients on my ward and other patients with mental health problems which triggered my depression and urge to hurt myself again. I told a friend about it, and he took me to my GP surgery. Whilst there, she looked at me like I was insane and just gave me a questionnaire to do at home – and told me to come back in two weeks. We did the questionnaire immediately in the car park. I scored something like 19 out of 22 – anything over 15 is considered depressed, with 22 being near suicidal and in need of urgent help. Still, I refused to go back to the doctor. I eventually quit my job in the hospital as being around people who were also depressed was bringing me down and I was starting to feel suicidal again. Instead, I returned to college.
A few weeks after I started at college I got a new job in a nightclub and found that I actually started to enjoy working. College was going great, work was fun, I had a purpose and started to think about pursuing my dreams that had been put on the back burner when I failed my A levels. I still self-harmed, but now there was no reason for it other than I craved it. I started to be more secretive about my body and slowly came to terms with the idea that I’d never have a boyfriend or anyone who would want to be near me in a relationship. The year past largely without incident, I got my head down and got into a university that I wanted to go to and made sure I did my work. In February the nightclub where I worked went into administration and in May I was given a job in a pub, working with some of the people I worked with in the nightclub which was great as I kept my friends. The worst thing in my life then was that my Dad was working away from May to September, however he was often away from home and whilst I was worried about him, it was not a massive trigger for me.
Around this time I started to get closer to one of the guys I worked with. We went out on a couple of dates and by June we were going out (albeit unofficially). I still self-harmed which causes many problems between us, as he had also suffered from depression as a teenager. On June the 22nd last year I found out one of my school friends had died suddenly. When I turned to him for comfort, he pushed me away and a couple of days later, he dumped me. I felt totally alone and lost, and unable to think clearly, drank a bottle of wine and downed two packets of pills in my first suicide attempt. Desperate and in pain, I phoned him for help and he took me to A+E and sat with me all night. My parents don’t know about that night, and I’ll never tell them. Whilst in hospital, I was given activated charcoal and spent the evening throwing up. In the morning before I was discharged the Crisis Team’s psychologist was sent to see me and I blagged to her that everything was ok, it was just a result of the break up and college stress and that I was just a stupid teenager.
In July I went to my friend’s funeral, and made the decision to stay away from my ex as much as I could. I wasn’t coping very well and went back to the GP, where she put me on medication called Citalopram. Citalopram is an SSRI that’s not commonly used in under 18s as it can increase suicidal ideations and attempts. The initial low dosage didn’t help me at all, so it got doubled at the start of August. A week later, on a rainy day when my Mum was away, I experienced something I hope I never experience again. That morning, I woke up, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be alive the next day. I showered, got dressed into clean clothes, tidied my bedroom, tidied the house and then wrote my family a note. I told them that it wasn’t their fault, that they should forget about me and that they would be better off without me. I left out a few things like a necklace and a ring which I wanted my friends to have, and wrote them individual notes too thanking them for their friendship. I got a bottle of alcohol and raided the medicine cabinet for what I could find. Unsatisfied with what I had, I took my Dad’s migraine medication – all three months of it. I also took two kitchen knives with me. I took the pills and the alcohol and walked to a local park, where I downed as much of the pills as I could with the alcohol (even though I threw most of them up later on) and cut my wrists with the knives. Walkers passed me by and paid me no attention, all apart from one little black dog who kept licking my hands and face. His owner called him away rather than coming over to fetch him; which I’m glad for. I’m happy no-one saw me like that in that park.
Why am I still here? Well, I left a message on here saying what I intended to do. Somehow, this got relayed to one of my friends, and soon my best friends were informed. As I had turned my phone off, they tried to come round the house and when they got no answer, they phoned the police. Luckily, my next door neighbour has a house key otherwise I’d be paying for a new front door! When they found only suicide notes inside, they started to look for me in the town we live in. Eventually one of them found me, and I was taken to hospital. My family were called and my Dad was given leave to come home and be with me. In hospital I was put on a drip and given another psychological assessment. As it was so close to me going to university, I had to convince them that I was psychologically sound and that I wouldn’t attempt it again. Once they were happy, I was transferred to a ward to spend the next two days whilst the drip worked and they checked I hadn’t damaged my liver. The ward I was on? The old ward that I used to work on. I was recognised by the nurse who was looking after me. Whilst I was closer to 20 when I took the medication, it would appear that it caused the suicidal episode and so that medication has been written off for me completely!
In order to go to university, I promised my parents that I would get help, and that I would attend a depression day centre until I went. The centre was based around group therapy and helping patients to understand their minds and to resist self-harming/suicide/other bad actions. Whilst I found it hard to deal with, and not massively helpful, it occupied me and I did learn from it. When I got to university, I immediately talked to my new GP and we decided to go down the route of counselling (free with the university service). I went for a few weeks but overall found it more damaging than helpful and didn’t go after the third week. Over the next few months I cycled up and down, and during my biggest down period I met my current boyfriend. I was self-harming and drinking on my own, and he made me go back to the doctors and counselling. When I went back, I got put on Sertraline, another SSRI but one without the pesky little side effect of suicidal intent. It did, however, turn me into a zombie for the first week of taking it. After the teething problems were sorted, it seemed to work for a bit though. I went cold turkey off it in January (really, really dumb) and haven’t been on drugs since. They just don’t seem to work on me.
In March life threw me another curve ball. I found out I was pregnant. As I was throwing up twice every morning and slept for 16 hours a day, it wasn’t hard to figure out, but still came as a shock. We talked about it and whilst my boyfriend would have been happy to keep it, I decided that it was too much of a risk with my depression (especially as my mood had dropped dramatically in the last few weeks) and that neither of us were ready. The pregnancy was terminated late March and I’m still trying to get my head around it – I *should* be in my second trimester now. But if I had kept it, I would have had to give up my university course, my job, my boyfriend would’ve had to get a dead end job he hated to pay for us, we would be living totally different lives. I’m certain I’ll get married and have children in the future, I’m just not ready now. I still struggled with self-harm and drinking and in April my boyfriend laid down an ultimatum = make a serious attempt at stopping or he’d break up with me. So I threw away my blades and haven’t looked back.
It’s been 2 months, I think, since I last self-harmed and the scars are still bright red and raised. I can’t go swimming because they’re all over my legs and arms and look awful. I can’t wear pretty dresses and I can’t even wear a strap top in my own home. Mood wise, since finishing first year of university and moving back home, I’ve become happier and more complacent. For now, everything is going ok. I still have my own demons to deal with and I’m certain they’ll raise their ugly heads in the future but for now, I’m happy. I still have bad days, I find out soon whether I’ve passed first year or not because I didn’t do a lot of the work due to lack of motivation and concentration, but I’m loving where I am in life. I love my degree, I love my job, I love my boyfriend and my family.