As World’s Mental Health Day just took place this week (10th of October) and after reading some of my Fuzz-Fam’s stories and experience, I feel it is alright to share my experiences on this important topic.
I would not say that I am clinically depressed and that I deal with it as sadly way too many people have to get on with depression. I have phases where they hit me, but before I get to this, I have to tell you a bit more about myself.
I was a premature baby and I had to deal with a little handicap. One of the muscles on my right leg was too short but It grew out, thanks to therapy. I am all good now but the fact that I had to go through this in my childhood, led to bullying at school. Add to that, my parents got divorced as I was 8 years old.
They were never a proper happy couple. I never experienced that really but I remember the fights. When I was11 years old, my grandpa died due to cancer and the same year, my mum was diagnosed with another form of cancer. She made it through but having to deal with all this; it blew my mind at the age of 12. I was not able to handle and cope with it anymore.
That was when it happened, the time when my very first wave of depression and thoughts of committing suicide came up. I didn’t leave the house and I mean it when I say: I didn’t go to school. I simply shot everything down, the way it was possible for my age.
I recovered thanks to the switch to a boarding school including two appointments a month with a psychiatrist for two good years. The change of not being at home, getting some distance and having the chance to be independent made me feel better. I was allowed to leave the boarding school and go home for good.
I love my mum to pieces and I do not know where I would be without her, but this change, the time without her and the option to find out how independent I can be without her near me all the time helped me to grow into a confident teenager. We all have flaws and doubts, but after my stay at boarding school, I was able to counter argue with my classmates and fight back. I won most of them.
The next phase came up towards the end and right after I finished my apprenticeship.
After the fights with my demons during my teenage years, I was all fine and pretty content for my start in the 20’s. But life happens and some demons find the way back into it, without us even noticing it. Sometimes due to other people because we cannot put out guards up quick enough.
In slow, extremely sad and horribly pushes, within 5 years I lost four close friends of mine. One of my childhood best friends and another ex-classmate of mine due to suicide and two other very good friends, one due to an accident about which I will not get into the details and the other one because of a heart attack at the tender age of 22…
My guards went down and I crumbled, having to deal with being unemployed at the same time and feeling like I would never get a job, I would be useless and never good enough, it broke me to also have to deal with this other, much more tragic loss. During the time when I was growing up in the age from 12 to 14, I found my ways to get out of a negative mindset, but sometimes, your favorite music and your best friends who try to listen to you and give you support fail to be 100% helpful.
But I did get a job, which did not last long, but it gave me some distraction which I needed SO much and I pushed through.
Of course, it wasn’t all bad and dark. I mostly feel good, kind of content for someone who is struggling to get a permanent job for 10 years now but nobody’s life is perfect. That was an important aspect I forgot as the 3rd and so far, luckily the last phase of depression and suicidal thoughts hit me.
Being unemployed for long and being unable to distract myself, I had to deal with shallow comments and reasons from people who assumed why I did not make it to a job interview. Having to deal with the words, “You’re not good enough” on daily basis and finding it difficult to tackle my life and getting it the way I wanted eventually led to the breakdown.
I surpassed the point of being afraid of dying. I wanted it to be over. I tried calming myself down for two full days. And I even I was able to hide my feeling from my mum very often, my reactions to stupid comments got more and more agressive and my guards got thinner and thinner and so she knew that I was not feeling well. I knew, she went to bed, being worried about me and just to know that, made me feel even worse. I felt bad for making other people feeling bad because I was not well, if that makes sense. I was simply not able to hide any feelings, to say ‘it’s okay’ and to play cool about being told that ‘I am not wanted.’
I broke down crying in my bed in the middle of the night and I wanted to die. I lost all my hope and I stopped believing in my dreams. I could not see, feel, or think of something that would hold me. I could not think of the slightest thing that would have been able to catch me in that very moment. So, I did something I never thought I would do. I tweeted. I send two tweets out on my rarely used account and let my few followers know how I feel, while I was a crying mess at 3 am.
And something happened that I never thought it would. An online friend of mine, which lives her life in a completely different time zone, answered my tweet in a heartbeat. I was able to vent. She let me open up about everything, she was there reading and replying for almost an hour. She calmed me down to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and I did something I could not picture myself doing just right before I finally was able to rest for a bit…I got up. I made it out of bed, I left the apartment and caught some fresh air.
The next few days and weeks were a pure struggle and it was harder than it was before, but I am still here. I recovered from it, I am still not at the place in life where I want to be, but I do believe in my dreams again, I continued to work and believe that it will happen someday soon.
I know, this is extremely long and personal and maybe even uninteresting for some of you, but what I have learned in these 20 years since my first depression phase hit and yes, I am 32 and I know that another one of these dark times may come again… Never forget there is help. Sometimes, we might feel that we can’t be strong anymore and sometimes we get to the end of the rope. Even before we get there, remember: There is ALWAYS help.
Open up to your family and friends or reach out for professional help. At least there will be someone to catch you and to help you to see the light in your life again. Please, never be afraid to talk about your mental health issues, your mental health needs to be treated and taken care of just the way you care for your physical health.