In this post I am going to confront something, something which has been lingering for a month or so and haven’t fully accepted. In the UK 60% of people who experience depression will relapse, and on this occasion the effects of the depression will be much worse than the first. This is what I have to accept and work on, I am experiencing my first relapse. I am not posting this for any pity, because I have pitied myself enough since November, enough to question my faith (more so than I have done in the past), the worth of my education and my own self worth. This is coming from someone who puts her education in front of everything, it means the world to me.
I am writing this post to fill a void in me which seeks to explain to people who do not understand what depression and anxiety are, in the hope it will make me feel somewhat better and avoid another mental episode, which have been occurring a lot quite frequent recently.
Disclaimer: I have sought medical attention, well attempted to, every time I book a Dr’s appointment they always cancel it! Well that shows something about the current state of the NHS…
Any way, this all started in October, when I had distanced from a few of my friends, in addition to the pressures of Alevels, the former was more of an impact though. The reason why this distancing occurred was firstly unintentional, but then I realized that I did not want to associate with negative and self-centred people, so I didn’t make an effort with anyone apart from my best friend. To cut a long story short, she was a bystander in this situation, but also in the fact that she was aware of my feelings of being marginalised before and after I made them public. I wanted an apology and asked her to get one for me, which she also thought it was her duty to. A couple of weeks back I was told that I wasn’t getting an apology and everything came crashing down. The breakdowns really started then on because I felt that my rock, although I didn’t show her she was, was not there anymore. It all ended bitterly, I blocked this person after I was getting the blame for not making an effort with conversations, I was the one throwing shade… When the fact was when I needed to vent, I couldn’t and if i did it came out with anger. I made it well aware I was feeling the lowest and most worthless I had ever been; I had never experienced wanting to disappear but on this occasion I did. I concluded this as being near suicidal thoughts and decided so decided to cut the source of this feeling off and ceased contact with her.
The feelings of worthlessness and yearning to disappear gradually went away. Even so, my sadness turned into anger, anger turned into hatred, hated turned into further isolation. The reason why I am telling you this is because I feel a need to make people understand how I feel when they ask me what is wrong but cannot understand. I want you to read for the sake of understanding, not for the sake of feeling obligated to reply.
A person’s silence speaks masses, whether they are observant or suffering with a mental illness, both of which extremes can vehemently take over lives. To a lot of people this is going to seem like bitchy drama, which I do not dispute, because it is. But I feel that by explaining my experience, people will understand how other’s have the potential to affect one’s psyche, being more of an impact if there is no understanding of people’s feelings, or consensus in society regarding the detrimental affects poor mental health have on people, myself being a prime example.
I was speaking to a friend the other day, and he said he thought that depression was just a ploy for American pharmaceutical companies to profit, he did not recognise that mental health is such a dire issue in our society . This is the ignorance I want to battle – I am by no means saying that his ignorance was deliberate or intentionally spiteful, I am saying that ignorance can be due to the lack of education people receive on mental health. Moreover, ignorance that people suffering with mental health issues get because of assumptions of who they are and how they portray themselves.
For example, what do people see?
A British-Pakistani female, from a middle class family, who is dedicated to her studies, a grade A student, apparent conformist to a militant study regime, definitely not the standardised ideal of beautiful and also apparently lives in a well known suburb.
Who am I really?
A British Pakistani young women who lives in a culture where commenting on her looks, decisions, mental health and education are allowed. I am deemed as people who do not know me as a snob, I was even told this! I live in Edgbaston, which in people’s minds cites the potential of me coming from a very wealthy background, which is not true, because I am from a working class family. This assumption is furthered by the way I talk and the things I am interested, namely, Politics.
The significance of this?
“You have nothing to be depressed about”. Now regardless of whichever description I fit into, people who are ignorant of mental illnesses do not understand that mental health issues can affect anyone. Yes, if you are from an ethnic minority background, live in a deprived area and are living near to or on the poverty line, you are more likely to be depressed. However, this does not take away any potential for someone who lives with better living standards to gain mental health issues.
Last night I had a breakdown and I reached out to my actual childhood best friend for help. She gave me an idea, and it is to set up a mental health commission/group when I can, specifically for young people. The main query people will have with this is that there are a multitude of mental health groups which are directed at young people, what difference will this one make? The speech I gave to myself last night thinking of this project being established was a lot more eloquent than what you’re about to read…. Here goes…
The difference with this group will hopefully be that face to face interaction, compassion and comfort will be available, and will be offered by people who are the same or near age to the person who is suffering. Although there are many fantastic doctors out there, I feel that there needs to be more done by people who feel have the element of empathy they yearned for during their struggles, which is also vital.
The proposed project will also reach out to communities to educate them on mental health, especially the South Asian community. There has always been a longing in me to find something that I am passionate about, which can help people and transfer a legacy by those who have survived mental health issues, in remembrance of those who have detrimentally suffered and lost their lives to such illnesses, in order to place provisions which prevent the potential future generations from experiencing these struggles.
The hardest thing of my initial depression diagnosis, two years ago, was telling my family what had happened. Not because I felt they would be ashamed, but because I was scared that they would blame themselves for my state. This is one of the main factors which inhibits someone from asking for help, the fear. A wise man once said, “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. This was Frank D. Roosevelt, a man who conquered and saved America despite his physical (and potential mental) health. This is a legacy I would like to carry on regarding turning my illness into something which can benefit others, because this is one thing I feared and triggered my depression, not living a full and purposeful life. This is an opportunity to get it started.
Currently I feel like I have the weight of the world riding on my shoulders, even though I don’t. I feel that my illness is preventing me from doing as well as I can educationally and socially, which it might not be. These are a couple of the paranoias someone with depression and anxiety may experience, but there is a whole other darker side to the thoughts and feelings they might have, some of which would be unthinkable and distressing in the mind of someone who has not experienced depression or anxiety.
We need to battle these feelings of fear, shame, ignorance and adopt feelings of empathy, compassion and understanding, on a level which is not feeling pitiful for a sufferer of mental health issues.
This is going to be my goal – spreading awareness and help to those who need it, because I do not feel that enough is being done. But before this, I must mend myself. In the mean time, I will be focusing on studying, working out, endeavouring in new creative activities, trying to be happy and drawing up plans for this project over summer. This has really helped get some issues off my chest, I’m unsure of whether to post this… If you are, I gained the courage to.
Cliche – If you are going through any of the things in the former, you are not alone and there are people who you can talk to about it, including myself and contacts below.