Emma explains her school and sixth form journey with depression and her personal advice for overcoming periods of low mood
Wave Subscription Boxes has given me an opportunity to write about my story with mental health, and allowed me to share some advice to others like me.
I’d like to start by explaining my experience with depression. I dealt with depression throughout my last year of high school and now during my current years in sixth form. As any sixth former will know, college can be incredibly stressful. Unfortunately for me, the more stressed I become the more my mental health declines. The worst period happened from December up until June where juggling my mental health, a job and A levels became far too much. During this time a lot of events happened such as the end of friendships, failing relationships and conflicting family issues. It is fair to say a lot of teenagers go through this process during the transition from high school to college. However, every fallout, argument or dispute felt like a massive blow and it felt like each event sent me back to a new personal low each time.
I never saw a future for myself so I neglected all of my educational responsibilities.
The darker days of depression confined me to my bed and I shut myself off from the outside world. No matter what I did it felt like I was always being mentally dragged back to my bed and I lost all concept of time. It all felt like one continuous period of foggy thoughts. In one part of my head I had a voice screaming at me to get up, do something and speak to people. The other encouraged my self-depreciating behaviours and constantly told me how worthless and invaluable I was. It told me that my friends didn’t care and I was just kidding myself into thinking they were there for me.
I was unable to look after myself and carry out basic human needs such as drinking properly and eating. I slept the majority of the day away, in the gaps between sleep (which were few and far between) I would find myself staring at any object or any space with a heavy numb feeling in my chest. People had noticed a change in my appearance, starting with weight loss and my pale complexion. To cope, I turned to going out and partying with my friends. Whenever I was sad I decided to drink. This led to bad decisions, but it’s important to know that things do get better. It doesn’t happen straight away, but the key is to remember that progression is never simple and straightforward.
It was a friend of mine that noticed my destructive behaviour. She advised that I sign up for some counselling. I dismissed the idea at first as I was still in denial and hoped my problems would disappear on their own. My ‘Progress Mentor’ at school also suggested counselling, so I tried it. Walking away from my first and second sessions I didn’t feel any different. I was quick to comment on how it didn’t work and how I wasn’t noticing a difference.
Following my sixth and seventh counselling sessions, something changed. I no longer felt like I was being suffocated. I wasn’t alone.
Having someone to speak to, even if it was for one hour a week, worked for me. My counsellor and I covered all of the serious and worrying thoughts I was experiencing, including taking my own life, but we also conversed about other areas in my life, including my family. Together we worked on management strategies and unpicked the cause of my acute anxiety and depression. I learned not to think so negatively and she helped me to let go of worries and change my outlook on life.
The advice I would give someone else going through the same or similar experience with depression as me is to speak to someone. Whether that is a school counsellor, a friend, parent, aunt or uncle, or even a phone line (such as the Samaritans). Do not ignore your feelings.
What you’re going through is ok and normal. To be able to combat your current situation and negative headspace you have to allow yourself to completely feel it. Embrace it. Let yourself have bad days- everybody gets them!
One thing I have been doing, which has really helped, has been checking in on myself as a form of self-care.
In a situation I ask myself, ‘Why am I feeling this way?’ and I break down the situation piece by piece. It eventually would not be as overwhelming. Another thing that helps me is writing. This was either in the form of poems, stories or letters tapping into how I was feeling. Sometimes I write a list of all the good things I have in life, or just good things that have happened to me that day. This is all easier said than done. I understand. But, it does get better and your life can change. You just have to be the person to bring and develop the change!"
Emma's notebooks that she uses to write down thoughts and feelings
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