Depression Rules My Life And Why I’m Scared Of Getting Better
Depression is a four-letter word. Despite its prevalence, it seems to be one of those things that just isn’t talked about – and when it is, it’s in success stories where a beautiful and successful woman tells you how she cured herself with holistic methods, talk therapy, some wonder drug, or sheer willpower. Nothing ever really gets said about those people who struggle with depression, day in day out, without seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
Hi, I am one of those people.
I can’t remember when my depression began, or whether there was some kind of trigger for it. I either have a laughably bad memory, or I’ve blocked it out; either of those things could be the case. All I know is that I can’t remember feeling “normal.” I self-harmed as a young teen, and at fourteen-years-old I was prescribed Fluoxetine, which I refused to take. I thought that the way I felt was just who I was, something ingrained so deep into me that the medication was unnecessary, and would probably be ineffective. The five years since then have gone by in a bit of a blur. I did well throughout school and had (still have, actually) a great group of friends. I went on holidays, aced my exams, went to festivals, got drunk, messed around, and had – by all accounts – a normal teenager’s life, but something was always off.
In September of 2010, I went to university. I was terrified, but that seemed completely normal, and I was told – reassured, repeatedly – that I would settle in, make friends, feel at home. When I complained that I didn’t fit in with everyone, that I didn’t want to be there anymore, my mum told me to stick it out until Christmas. So I tried. I ended up alone in my dorm room most days and nights, not attending lectures, and my then-dormant bulimic tendencies spiralled out of control. I dropped out in November and told myself that the reason I had been so miserable was because that particular uni wasn’t a good fit for me. It wasn’t until I came home and still felt hopeless, months later, that I decided to go to the doctor and tell them that I thought my depression had re-surfaced. After a quick assessment, I got put on Citalopram and sent on my way.
October of 2011 marked my second try at university, and I loved it instantly. The place was beautiful, the course was interesting, and I finally felt at home. I’ve always been an introvert, and that’s something I firmly believe is entrenched in me; it’s never going to change, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing in itself. But introversion slowly transformed into social anxiety, and even though I made friends in the first few weeks, I found it increasingly harder to make or keep plans with them. People would invite me to parties, to town, to nights out, and I’d make excuses to stay at home alone because the thought of socialising made me feel ill.
Eventually that anxiety spread to other facets of my life; I’d miss days at my volunteer job, meetings with my academic supervisor, and even prepatory examinations. By this point, my sleeping pattern resembled that of a bat (7am-4pm, roughly) and I made it to very few of my lectures. At its worst, my attendance was hovering around 30%, and there was a time during the winter where I didn’t see sunlight for two weeks. I binged during the nighttime hours as a kind of messed up method of self-soothing (whose bright idea was it to put a vending machine outside my dorm room?). I decided to switch medications, because mine obviously wasn’t doing a great job – but it didn’t get better. My supervisor put me in touch with a campus therapist, with whom I had a few sessions, but I didn’t get much out of it (and I freaked out and left when she suggested I attend a group ED support meeting – what can I say, I’m bad at this stuff). I switched meds again (and the doctor gave me a look and told me that I’d gone through quite a few different ones recently), but that didn’t make a difference, either.
Fast forward to the past few weeks; summer vacation. I’ve seen my friends maybe four or five times in the two months I’ve been home. My sleeping pattern is still as bad as ever, and it’s causing some pretty bad tension in my family, but I can’t get prescribed pills for it because I’m too young. I’m still binge eating, and my teeth feel messed up from all the acidity I’ve thrusted upon them, but my GP told me that my BMI was too high for them to help. I felt like I had nowhere left to turn.
A few days ago, I found a website for mental health services in my area that specialise in anxiety and depression. They offer CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), which sounds like something I could benefit greatly from. There’s a phone number. I should call it. But, if I’m honest, I’m putting it off. I’m tired of going down avenue after avenue to end up right back at square one, and (this is difficult and shameful to admit), I’m scared of getting better. I’ve felt like this for as long as I can remember, and I don’t know who I am without these issues. They’re like a fucked-up safety blanket for me; I don’t need to deal with real life, because I can hermit myself away and pretend that nothing is going on around me.
I would hazard a guess that I’m not the only person who has felt this way, but it’s never talked about. So here I am, talking about it. I am not a success story.
If you have ever felt this way, share with me. I’ll be reading and replying to comments below.
Written by Kaya Green
Find her on her personal blog, floralinguist.com.