I have finished uni and I’m about to graduate and as soon as anyone learns that fact they immediately ask “What’re you gonna do now? Do you have a job lined up?”. Lately I hadn’t been able to answer that question with any passion or enthusiasm for my inevitable career path, I have always loved the media industry and I know I’ll end up there but my responses had been sounding less genuine in recent months.
I think we can all agree 2016 was not great for anyone but for me the second half has been one of the worst of my life, and this is without exaggeration. Every minute of day to day life was met with stress, frustration and sadness. I knew what it meant, but I continued to work two jobs, two internships, study full time uni and maintain a social life.
I have been falling in and out of mild to extreme depression for 8 years, I have been getting help for 5 years and 2017 is the year I am going to really focus on leaving that dark cloud behind once and for all.
When I was 16 my depression was severe. I don’t know how to put it into words but imagine the feeling of knowing the sun is shining but being unable to feel the warmth and happiness it brings. Imagine every smile and laugh ending with a sigh of sadness. I blamed my unhappiness on teenage things like unhappiness with my body, thinking everyone was talking shit about me, wanting approval and wishing I had things I didn’t.
When I was 17, things started to get worse. Everyday I would cry and everyday I would wake up wishing I didn’t have to face the world that day. I can’t remember ever waking up excited for the day and everything in my life begun to suffer. Even simple everyday tasks were too much, I was always late because I was too sad to even dress myself. Every movement was accompanied with a heavy sigh which felt like a tonne of bricks was pushing me down into the ground and my one and only goal for the day was to not let them crush me.
At the final athletics carnival for Year 12 was the most depressed I can ever remember being, the entire day was a blur and reminiscent of a hurricane in my mind but in the photos there’s not a cloud in the sky and my smile is as fake as every other day. My friends finally decided enough was enough and I was forced into a car to go get help. I was reluctant but I remember having no energy or motivation left to even feel emotion. I was feeling nothing, no emotion whatsoever not sadness nor anger nor contentment or relief. We sat outside the doctors office for awhile while they convinced me this was the right thing to do.
I remember standing on the side of the road and they crossed and I just stood there. My mind told me if I walked at any time it would all be over and I wouldn’t have to go. Just one foot out, and that was it. I looked at my friends, just stared at them. They’re the reason I didn’t. That thought still scares me, I imagine how close I was and I realise now I’m so thankful to have friends like that, and to whom I owe my life.
The doctor told me I needed to go to hospital because my depression was extreme. I begged and pleaded that I couldn’t go because then people would know and I didn’t want anyone to know, not even my family. My mind was panicking, I had the HSC to do, I had a job and what would everyone think. I was given a session with a psychologist that afternoon and my mental health care plan was worked out, including seeing a physiatrist as well to monitor my medication plan.
I have been seeing that same psychologist for 4 years now, with the last two being infrequent. I was on medication for two years and in 2015 I was able to get off it. But things took a turn for the worst this year in August when I couldn’t cope with everything. I put it down to the fact I had taken on too much and put too much pressure on myself, but that wasn’t the reason. The big black dog had reared its ugly head again.
My biggest regret is not getting help sooner this year, I should have known things weren’t right again and that my mind was up to its old tricks.
Again, I let it get to the stage of absolute desperation and one day I couldn’t take it anymore. I was home alone and had a complete meltdown, I couldn’t breathe, I was panicking, crying, screaming and lying on the floor because I had no energy to pick myself back up – all out of the overwhelming feeling of being extremely depressed again. I remembered the words the doctor said to me when I was 17 when I was in this state, “you should be in hospital”. I panicked even more, I couldn’t go to hospital because I had to work, I had uni, I had an internship and worst of all, how would I explain it to everyone. I felt ashamed, disappointed in myself and angry that I let it get so bad and relapsed again.
It took hours to reason myself out of my panic before I eventually got myself to the doctor, I can’t even remember driving there because I felt that same feeling I had back in 2012. I was numb, after my meltdown I felt nothing. Not anger nor sadness nor grief, just completely numb.
I am back on medication and seeing two psychologists. To be honest, I don’t remember much from that state I was in and I didn’t remember how bad I was until two weeks later in a check up appointment the doctor said “and the suicidal thoughts, do you still have them?” Once again everything hit home and I realised I let it get too far before I got help again. This is no longer the life I want to be entangled in, falling in and out of depressive cycles and self destructive decisions
So, when anyone asks me what I’m going to do now that I’ve finished uni, it is this: I am going to focus on improving my mental health for myself. The mind is such a powerful force and at the end of the day your mind is your life source, shapes your reality and provides the basis for your existence. So, here’s to 2017 and getting my mental health in check so I can hope to succeed in whatever I do and whever I go. Here’s to finally looking forward to the exciting opportunities and challenges the universe can throw at you, and wanting to improve because I want to – not for anyone else.