My Story Series – Silverline is all about challenging the struggle, challenging the stigma that exists around mental health. And one of the most powerful ways to challenge the struggle is when real people share their real life journeys.
So sit back, grab a cuppa, or a snack and have a read of the first of our My Story Series. Oh and make sure you show your support to these wonderful, inspiring humans who are sharing their journey with the Silverline Family.
My Story #1
I was driving down George Street in my work car when I came to the conclusion that I was depressed. My boss had been riding me for being too slow on my deliveries, but no matter what I did my legs would not move faster than a heavy plod, my arms were too tired to throw bags in and out of the car, and even my foot refused to press harder on the pedal. I thought about this as I turned down Dundas Street and I added it to my list.
Dancing no longer brought me any joy, in fact, I dreaded having to leave the solitude of my room for classes. I had begun attending mealtimes less. It was easier to eat cereal in my room than it was to go through the stress of asking when people were going down for tea. I wasn’t sleeping, during the night at least. And no matter how much I drank I couldn’t lift the heavy blanket that was smothering my ability to feel. Every night out in town would end with me walking home alone, having spent the last few hours forcing myself to dance and sing and laugh, but with no lights on inside. I ticked these things off in my head against what I knew about depression—low mood, loss of pleasure, sleep disturbances, eating changes—and I decided I needed help.
I went to a psychologist. I spent an hour talking about my life and how I was feeling and she told me three things. That yes, I was suffering a major depressive episode, that this did not mean there was anything wrong with who I was as a person, and that it would get better. In the weeks that followed I decided my psychologist was very wrong.
She was probably onto something with the depression thing, but she was deluded if she thought there was nothing wrong with me as a person. Of course there was. I wasn’t clever enough to belong at uni, I wasn’t talented enough to belong in dance, I wasn’t funny enough to belong with my friends. My mind told me that I was ugly, that my friends found me boring, that no one loved me, and that I was worthless, just a waste of space. Of course I believed myself, why would I lie? My psychologist obviously just hadn’t realised it yet. She would see the real me with time, the worthless me that everyone else knew. Then she would see I had been right all along.
I got a lot worse. In the weeks that followed my diagnosis I stopped going to class. I stopped going to mealtimes almost entirely and bought food from the supermarket that could be eaten in the solitude of my room. I didn’t leave my floor for days at a time and lived on a diet of double layer tim-tams, mi goreng noodles (the purple kind), and cornflakes with tinned peaches. I slept all day, locking my door and pulling the curtains closed against the sun. I couldn’t sleep at night so I would sit in the showers for hours at a time, or watch the most gruesome horror movies I could find in an attempt to shock myself. I sat and stared at the measly ten sleeping pills I was allowed to have at a time to compliment my antidepressants and wished they were enough to make me sleep for a week. And when the heavy, black blanket that constantly smothered me occasionally slipped, and I was able to feel everything, I would cry and scream into my pillows and hurt myself, and I would have to go back to therapy and own up to the fact that once again I had been a failure.
I was in therapy for about six months, and I couldn’t tell you when exactly it happened but something changed. I stopped thinking of my psychologist as misinformed and started wondering if she was actually magic. Week by week the blanket became lighter. I gradually felt excited about dancing again. I wanted to open my window, and leave my room. I stopped reading boredom and disgust in people’s faces when they talked to me. I ate meals. I went to class. Most importantly, I remembered that I loved and needed my friends, and that they loved and needed me.
Sometimes it’s hard to look back and think of how I twisted and warped the world around me into such a pointless and hateful place. How easily I alienated myself, and the relief it gave me to do so. But depression is a disease. It comes in and it changes the very way you think, turning loved ones into strangers, stripping the pleasure from your days, and warping your interpretations of the world. Just remember that those thoughts are not your own. Those interpretations may not be the truth. And that with treatment and support you can make your mind yours again. There is nothing wrong with you, and it does get better.
Silverline Note: There’s no ‘sick enough’ or ‘sad enough’, if you want support, it is here.
Here are a couple of ways to connect with people who know what’s up:
111 – If you or someone else is in immediate danger
1737 – Free call or text any time for support from a trained counsellor
0508 828 865 – Suicide Crisis Helpline
0800 543 354 – Lifeline
0800 376 633 – Youthline
234 – Free txt Youthline