When I was 15 years old, I experienced my first depressive episode. I felt unable to leave the house or see friends as the depression brought about an increase in anxiety. My parents looked after me as best they could and I was taken to see an adolescent psychiatrist who put me on anti-depressants coupled with therapy. I gradually got better again with time and managed to do well in my exams.
I was eventually hospitalised voluntarily after more periods of illness and at 16 years old, diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Understandably, the diagnosis changed my life. I am now 28 and have been taking medication since then. Not long ago, I survived a suicidal depression that I had in the winter of 2013, 6 months before I went into hospital.
At this time, it was apparent that for several years my medication was not controlling my low moods. I would get really depressed very quickly, feel overly emotional when stressed and felt like I had to hide myself away. I began sleeping too much to escape the inner turmoil and to get respite. Sleep became my balm and escape.
However, it was when I began sleeping from 9-5 pm with a quick break for food, not getting washed and dressed or answering my phone and not being able to get in to work, that the psychiatrist was called to the house to see me.
I remember crying and crying- in such pain in my mind. For me, the depression felt so chemical- I knew I needed to change my medication but I didn’t know why everything felt like ‘wading through treacle’. Why couldn’t I find the joy in life anymore, I asked myself? I just couldn’t cope with the painful negative thoughts and feelings and started thinking irrationally that I would be better off not here in the world.
These suicidal thoughts were extremely challenging to deal with. I was so scared by them that I would tell my parents constantly how I was feeling. I wanted to get the thoughts out my head and so telling people became my salvation- I believe if I had bottled it up, I may not be here today.
Eventually, over time, my medical team worked together to put me on the right medication- Lithium. The Lithium has changed and saved my life. My brain chemistry is stable; I no longer feel suicidal or depressed. I get up early in the morning and I want to do things with my day. This took a long time but to anyone feeling suicidal- please reach for help.
You can get better- it is your brain playing tricks on you with an illness. I want to spread a message of hope, recovery and survival- life can be dark but if you hold on there is hope.
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