I drink coffee (some would say too much), I have finished university, I have a full-time job, dedicate way too much of my time scrolling Instagram, I wear glasses and I am way too obsessed with my cat. From the outside, I look like any other normal 20-something-year-old girl, except for the past two years I have been sick.
I cannot tell you what it is like to get a serious diagnosis at 30 or 40 or 80. I could imagine it would be horrific. But what I can tell you is that when you have finished high school, are finishing your uni degree and being told “you have your whole life ahead of you” hearing from your doctor that you are sick is an absolutely soul-wrenching moment.
I thought my first few years of my 20s would be dedicated to drinking and partying and traveling and festivals and probably some boy breaking my heart. Those are the things your 20s are meant to be about and I would be lying if I said those things didn’t happen but I also had my sickness stealing me away.
It wasn’t the type of sickness that caused my body to let me down. For me, it was something much more scary because it wasn’t tangible. I couldn’t see it.. There was no scan to show me what was going on. There was no surgery that could cure me. It was the type of sickness that had caused my mind to let me down.
At the ripe old age of 21, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
It was something I knew I had. Deep within me, I knew life wasn’t meant to be like this, but the depression had spent so long living in my body I couldn’t decipher what was me and what was my illness. Me knowing should have made the news from my doctor so much easier, right? Wrong!
I left the doctor’s room, partly thankful that someone else acknowledged that the demons I was living with had no place in my life and partly freaking terrified because I knew the direct correlation between depression and suicide, I had seen it happen to so many people, I had been to the funerals and seen the loved ones left behind and I had been living my life on the the tender line for quite some time.
Depression is a confusing illness – and people tend to fear the unknown but let me tell you some things about it as I have unfortunately become quite the expert.
Depression is paralysing, not in the form of your limbs giving out, but in the way that you physically cannot lift yourself off the shower floor.
Depression is putting on a brave face even though you hardly slept the night before.
Depression is hearing “just smile, it’s all in your head” over and over again by people (that evidently) have no idea.
Depression is alienating yourself from your friends and family, not because they would judge you or wouldn’t support you, but because you do not have the words or strength required to let them in.
Depression is organising a breakfast date but having to pull out last minute because it is all too much.
Depression is being too sick to go to work, but going anyway only to be forced into a room or bathroom to have an unscheduled panic attack.
Depression is experiencing an incredible moment, a moment that should make you genuinely happy but you cannot feel it.
Depression is losing the desire to be intimate, even to the detriment of your relationship.
Depression is living on the outside looking in, not being attached to a moment, a feeling or yourself.
Depression is struggling to maintain a healthy relationship, because you are incapable of loving yourself let alone allowing anyone to love you too.
Depression is feeling completely fine one day than walking around with a cloud over your head the next.
Depression is plagued with stereotypes and being crippled by fear to reach out for help.
Depression is a thief, stealing valuable moments, time and friendships from you.
Depression isn’t necessarily wanting to die or ‘commit suicide’, for me it was simply wanting to go to sleep and never waking up.
I was very close to breaking point. To doing the unthinkable and never being able to undo it but someone looked at me and asked me three simple words.
“Are you okay?’
To which I replied
“I am fine”
And then she looked me in the eyes and said:
“You are not okay.”
That was it, that was the whole conversation and it did something truly remarkable. My friend at most saved my life and the least saved my quality of life purely by asking one simple question. I was living on the cusp of death and her words drove me to the doctor’s office, into the doctor’s chair and along a hard but life-saving road to a better life.
Reach out and ask someone if they are okay today, you never know, you may just save someone’s life.
Want to learn more? There are some incredible online resources available at R U OK and Beyond Blue.
And to anyone feeling alone, my door is always open (and believe me, so are your friends and your families).
Thank you so so much for reading. This is by far the most personal story I have ever shared and your support means a lot,