Now I’m not saying I’m free of all this expectation and judgement, but I believe I’ve taken the first step towards removing myself from it. I can now say I’m happy with me, I actually love me. That sounds self-centered, vain and whatever you want to label it as. I only see this as another tactic to hold us back from truly expressing ourselves. I used to think that confident, outspoken people were arseholes because it’s not normal to love ourselves. We’re all flawed and nobody’s perfect, but we’re all in the same boat here; so why shouldn’t we love ourselves?
Since returning from America I can honestly say that I’m not longer depressed, at all. I’m angry, but I’m not depressed. This is something I only talked about with my closest friends and family and I respect them (at least I hope) for keeping that a private matter. Now I feel like it is something I can talk openly about because I took completely the wrong tactic for trying to solve my depression. I believed it was my problem to deal with alone and felt that someone as young as me surely couldn’t be depressed; what did I have to be depressed about? Now it all makes sense to me. If one person is helped by this and learns from my mistake then this was worth posting.
Prior to starting University, I think I was seventeen, I experienced the worst day of my depression where I came the closest to taking my own life. Let me be clear that nothing happened to trigger this during that day and, just like my depression in general, I felt like I had no ‘excuse’ to be depressed. I can’t remember how I found the number but I spoke to a clinic where they eventually asked me this question.
“Ryan, do you feel safe right now?”
I answered that I did not. I was then advised to go to A&E where a member of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) would be called to see me. I got in my car and I set off, but I did not drive straight to the hospital. Instead I drove around Halifax for a time considering what I believed to be my only two options at the time; drive as fast as I could into a wall or go to A&E. This piece of information is not one I have shared with anyone before writing this. Like most things that I look back on now with my new perspective, this fills me with anger. Anyone who knows me will know I’m not an angry person, but there’s a lot of things I’m angry about now but I’ll speak more about that later.
Eventually I decided to go to the hospital and see what they could do for me. I was told that a member of CAMHS was on their way and I was left to sit in a room with a nurse who, after much resistance, convinced me to let her ring my parents and get them down to the hospital. When CAMHS did arrive I was back to normal Ryan, barely speaking a word and not allowing anyone to really help me. He did not deem me a risk to myself and eventually the therapist who I was forced to see afterwards concluded the same. They took my quietness as a sign of safety.
My depression never got as bad as that day again, but it never left me. Everyday I’d play the role of whoever I thought was the most likable, or the least weird, with whichever group I was with. I’m not saying I’ve never been myself at all because that’s not true. With my family and my friends I felt my most comfortable but would rarely speak my mind fully. I lived by the quote below.
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
Now I couldn’t disagree with it more.
What I should have learnt from this experience is that I should have talked about my problems, because mental illness is something that can seldom be conquered alone. We have our friends and families who are there to support us and we should open up to them and get help rather than bottling these emotions.
I now feel, or at least I have began takings steps towards this, that I can say whatever I think needs to be said. Before I did not feel a lot needed to be said but I now know that I can, if I wish to. I care much less what anyone else will think of me for saying it, because who said it was wrong to never be wrong? We’re all human, we all make mistakes and we shouldn’t be judged because of them. If we don’t make our mistakes then how else can we learn?
I did not learn from my mistake until now, so hopefully someone else will learn from mine. If you are suffering from anything, be it mental illness, bullying, anything, talk to people. Don’t worry about what people might think of you because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we get the help we need from the people who love us.
Finally, any friends and family who are learning about my depression for the first time please know that right now I have never been happier in life. I’m completely happy with who I am and I’m gaining a confidence in myself I’d have never have dreamed of in the past. I’m sorry I didn’t speak to you sooner about this as I know you would have been there for me as you are all wonderful people, that’s why I’m proud to call you my family.
(Yes, that means my friends too. Even the one’s who aren’t listed as my brothers and sisters on Facebook since Year 7 or something.)