My name is Emmet, I am a third year student in A.I.T. I was diagnosed with depression in 2009.
How did I know I had depression?
I was in college in Dublin at the time and was finding it really difficult to adjust to life in college. It was all so overwhelming compared to school with assignments and exams becoming something that consumed my thoughts. While I managed to get through first year, the way I did it was far from the right approach with sleeping in a must after a night out and every assignment left until the 24 hour window before the deadline. This meant that I spent months worrying about something that I wasn’t doing anything about, and when I finally did start I left myself under extreme pressure in the final hours to get it together. This worked for first year and after handing something in I’d think to myself, “you’ve done it again you mad eejit” and be a little proud of myself that I was after cheating the system again.
This worked until I was coming up to second year after Christmas exams and the workload was piling up. For some reason now I couldn’t seem to make the burst at the final moments to get an assignment in. I remember noticing my mood drop and being constantly in bad form. In physical terms I could feel a pressure in my chest which didn’t go away, but I was used to this on many occasions during my teens and eventually it would go away, but it didn’t. I remember sitting in my flat for a week before my exams trying desperately to make myself study but I just couldn’t concentrate. It was like my mind was in standby mode and wouldn’t turn on. I admitted defeat and after a day or two of trying I couldn’t handle anymore and went to bed for the day, going between a state of sobbing uncontrollably to being frozen with fear about what was going to happen to me and what people would think of me because I was going to fail. I made myself go into the exam the first day because I knew it was better to turn up and fail than not turn up at all. I went in, sat down, wrote my name waited for 10 of the most uncomfortable minutes I had ever known, as I watched everyone around me write as fast as their hands would allow them, as I sat there motionless, trying to hold back the tears. I left the room, found the nearest toilet went inside and cried my eyes out.
I told my parents and returned home, never wanting to set foot in Dublin or college again. I felt like such a failure, I was ashamed of myself for not doing the work on time. I spent my days going between the couch and the bed, watching endless amounts of television to try and block out what my mind was saying to me, because what it was saying was horrible. My body was physically functioning perfectly, but the simplest task like, getting dressed, eating, washing, or making yourself a cup of tea seemed absolutely impossible. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, it wasn’t what I did. I was going to deal with this on my own. Thankfully I have a wonderful family who knew that this wasn’t going to get sorted by me sitting on the couch and they made me go to my doctor. I went and thankfully got the help that I needed. I began to understand that I had an illness that had to be treated the same as any other.
I began seeing a counsellor. We didn’t get along very well because I wasn’t talking very much and now I know this wasn’t his fault but mine. I was telling my sister about this when she gave me some counselling on how to talk to a counsellor. She said that one thing in your head that you really don’t want to say to anyone, is the one thing that you need to say in counselling because no one else will ever find out. No matter how crazy the thought or silly or scary it may seem, say it. It is vital that you say that thing that you’ve been putting off saying for a long time. This is when your true healing can begin. As these issues came up and I began saying them and figuring out how my mind worked, I began to get myself back together again. I was able to go back and do things I loved like hurling. I got off the couch and got a job on a building site.
I have had many occasions in the past six years where I have not done the right thing to keep myself well and ended up in that terrible place again. I was in college in Limerick for a short while and made all the same mistakes. I was then unemployed for half a year and had to deal with all of the issues involved with that, but every time I ended up back in that terrible place, I found a new way to keep myself well for longer the next time. I have read self-help books, been to different counsellors and tried hypnotherapy. Every one of these was worth doing as I found little pieces of information in all of them that now help me every day to look after myself. Every time I end up in that horrible place in my head, eventually after working through it, (which is really hard) I have more armour to keep myself well and more importantly happy afterwards.
The first major bout of depression is by far the hardest to deal with as you don’t understand what’s going on. Some people may have sucicdal thoughts when depressed. This does not mean you are crazy, it is just part of the illness and is the time when you really need to go and seek help. Once you come through it and see that you can, you know that the next time that you can only go so low and once you stick it out you will start to come back up again. Having depression is part of me and will be for the foreseeable future. That might seem really scary to some people, but I as I have come to understand the illness and myself more and more, I know I can handle it. I does not define me, it is one part of me, but a small part which once managed will have no great impact on my life. I can still go to college to pursue my career and do all of the other things that make life brilliant and most importantly, depression will not stop me doing anything I want to do. My depression has helped me become a happier person believe it or not. If it didn’t make me deal with issues that were troubling me I would still be in that terrible place. I believe it comes along for a reason and when you have dealt with whatever issue is the trouble it leaves again. The most important message I would hope that you would take from my story is firstly;
To seek help when you are in a terrible place in your mind.
Talk about whatever you have that’s troubling you in a safe environment, either in counselling or with a trusted friend.
Never give up on yourself as there is always another way to get through an issue, however terrible and troubling and scary that issue is, you will get through it!
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