This is an incredibly hard post for me to make and I hope that you can all appreciate that. I am quite a creative person, in terms of writing, and I found it is a great outlet for when things seem tough. So today I thought it was time that I came out from the dark and shared my experience with depression and how it makes me feel.
I was diagnosed on the 4th February 2016 with Atypical Depression. It was actually a few hours before I did the eulogy at my Grandad’s funeral in front of about 100 people. But, that didn’t make me feel any more sad that I had been dealt such a poor set of cards that day.
In fact, I kind of felt, liberated.
Bloody weird, I know. I was just… (happy??) to get a diagnosis and actually understand why I had been acting so un-me for so long.
“Atypical depression can be overwhelming, both physically and mentally. Unlike other types of depression, people with atypical depression can be briefly cheered up by positive events, but they overreact to negative events. A severe depression can be triggered by any feeling of rejection from a friend, boss, or loved one” – everydayhealth.com
At school I was the girl who didn’t have trouble making and maintaining friendships – I actually prided myself on how many I had – so why at university, the place where I should have been making hundreds of new pals did I feel so… alone? Miserable? Abandoned? Friendless?
At school I was the girl who always smiled, laughed, spent as much time away from home and with those that I loved. So why was I now turning my university room from a sanctuary in to a cell? Why was I spending more days crying over insignificant problems and pushing those that I loved away… rather than letting them in?
I traveled from York to my hometown the night before my Grandad’s funeral, aware of my looming appointment. I was scared. Scared of being laughed at, misunderstood or given a perfect bill of health. Realistically, these thoughts were stupid. I knew I wouldn’t be considered mentally healthy at all. In fact, I had completed an online consultation with my surgery in York that deemed me too severe to see a GP and advised me contacting emergency help.
My GP in my hometown was kind. He listened, he asked questions and at the end of our time he diagnosed me. (I am fully aware that it isn’t this easy for everyone.) After feeling so lost in my undiagnosed state, hearing the words ‘atypical depression’ made me feel found.
I had an illness. It wasn’t made up. I wasn’t ok and in fact it was ok to not be ok. It was ok because it meant I had found my footing on the steps that I had been stumbling down and now I could figure out my steep ascent ahead.
I was prescribed Citalopram that I immediately had a poor relationship with and came off the first chance I had.
You’re probably wondering what medication I took next? Who I spoke to? Whether I am feeling hunky-dory now?
Like I said, in March I stopped my medication cold turkey. My exams were coming up and the effects were so detrimental to my studies that I actually felt worse. I slept for 12+ hours a day and had no opportunity to study. I lost even more friends, stopped going in to university and it killed me that there was no magic wand to repair it all.
You may think that it has been a while since March and it may have changed. Which is slightly true. University ended in a very ugly and tense atmosphere that I was struggling with after coming off my medication and not seeking further help, so returning home felt amazing. My boyfriend is honestly my knight in shining armour (80% of the time!!) and his presence definitely saved me from myself several times.
I know I cannot rely on him for happiness. I have to find it myself. I had a few months which seemed to brighten up my life but now I have hit a bump in the road and I would be lying if I said it didn’t terrify me. Because it does. It scares me to my core. I knew my worst and I don’t want to return. I want to recover and rediscover Ella. I want to feel the real liberation, not just the liberation of finally being diagnosed. I want real feeling.
I know it will come. I know it takes time.
But I am determined, I am strong and I am not just my illness.
I am Ella, and I will meet her again soon.
If you wish to speak to anyone about mental health please contact Mind: 0300 123 3393 or text 86463.