I suffer from depression and anxiety (D&A). According to my mother, it has been life long. Until about two months ago, I had no recollection of suffering from either when I was a child, but then I ran into the mother of a childhood friend. She told me that as a child when I slept over at their house, I would always wake up in the middle of the night feeling sick, unable to sleep and wanting to go home. I can remember doing this only twice, but apparently, it was a regular thing.
From my memory, my D&A really came out when I was in high school, between the ages of 14 and 15. At the time, I was not aware of what was going through my mind, all I could see was that I was in pain and I do not have the proper outlet for it. I started to self-harm and continued it for a couple of years. I only stopped because my mother found out and began to watch me like a hawk and cut back on my privileges. When I look back now, I can see that I had placed the blame for things going wrong and falling apart on myself. I blamed myself for the issues other people had if I was closely tied to them. I thought poorly of myself if I had forgotten to do something important, messed up or something did not turn out the way I had wanted. I did not have an outlet for these things I was feeling and these incorrect connections I was forming. It was a terrible state to be in.
On many occasions, my mother tried to get me some help. She used her EAP through work to get me into a couple of different groups and counsellors, but I would not participate or talk about anything important to the counsellors. I am not sure why. Looking back, I know that I should have used the time to try to help myself. I think at that age, you think that you do not really need help, or that maybe no one can help you. Maybe you feel bad because you know that you do not have any “real” problems, being a privileged white girl, so you should not have anything to complain about. If you feel this about yourself right now, please, please, please try to ignore those feelings and get some help. Early intervention will go a long way.
It has now been about 12 years since I was 16 and being sent to talk to a stranger about my issues. I still suffer from D&A, but I have recently started going back to counseling. It helps, now that I am willing to participate. And, you know what? I learned something about myself and my experiences within my first appointment. Maybe I'm just lucky because my counsellor is fantastic, or maybe the introspection I had been doing prior to my initial appointment got us started on the right foot, but it really does not matter. In the first session, I learned the main reason I struggle with D&A and have already started cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help change my thought processes.
In upcoming weeks, further articles will be posted in regards to what I learn about D&A, the things I have been doing in CBT to help work through my issues, as well as some things that I find helpful in dealing with my D&A. Please keep reading. We can end the stigma of mental illness one step at a time.