College is one of the most exciting times in your life. It's the first time you're away from your parents, away from their rules. If you feel like drinking out of that milk carton then you do it goddamn it! It can also be terrifying! You have to make a whole new group of friends again, wake yourself up in the morning, make grown up decisions like 'should I buy these school books, or buy two naggins?' Tough one.
For me I was really lucky. I made friends straight away with my new housemates and my neighbours. I was pretty good at my course and I kind of felt like I was really accepted as a person. But something wasn't right. There were times when I just couldn't help but cry or be upset. It was frustrating because I couldn't figure out why? Why could I not be normal? These are the happiest years of my life, right? After a while, I just wasn't going to college. I had friends all around me but not necessarily any in my class. I just didn't feel like getting out of bed. When I did go in, I just sat at the back and didn't try to make an effort with people.
I tried to bury these feelings, convincing myself that I was just having a few bad days. This kind of worked for a while but as soon as I would head out for a night out they would come racing back. Whenever I started to sober up, I felt this wave of sadness come over me. I would either hide under my covers and cry myself to sleep, or else pick a fight with someone so I could blame this feeling on them. I needed to have a reason why I felt like this and I couldn't blame myself.
Not having a cause makes it so much worse. I had a good group of friends. I was actually kind of popular! I was doing well in my exams and I had a family that loved me. But when you hate yourself, it doesn't matter who or what anyone says that will make you feel any different. For a while I started blaming my weight. I bet skinny bitches don't feel like shit all the time. I was constantly drained and tired. When I realised that my appearance didn't have anything to do with it, I tried to blame the fact that I was single. All I needed was some loving! Again it worked for a while. I was able to forget that I had ever felt alone or depressed. However you can only cover a wound with a plaster for so long until eventually it rips off again and you realise the wound has become a lot deeper.
When I did eventually get my heart broken, I couldn't run any longer from what was going on. I felt completely worthless. Getting out of bed just seemed like a task that wasn't worth it. I would watch TV and not have a clue what was happening. It was just background noise. I felt like Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings when he says he, 'feels like butter spread over too much bread.' One day my mum told me that she couldn't remember the last time she heard me laugh. She sat me down and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I was just unhappy but I didn't know why. It was then she asked was I depressed? It had finally been said out loud.
The next day I went to the doctor. Waiting for my turn I could feel the tears welling back up and I hated myself for it. I was sick of crying. I constantly looked like I was having an allergic reaction with my eyes always swollen. Moaning Myrtle wasn't even this dramatic.
I walked into the Doctor's office and he asked me what was wrong, 'I think I'm depressed.' It was the first time I had ever said those words. He prescribed me a short spell of antidepressants. Was that it? Was that all that was wrong? I didn't have the flu. After a five minute consultation I was out the door. Was this a magic cure? I went home and googled all the side effects. Fatigue, weight gain, insomnia. I already had those things so how was this going to help. I have nothing against taking anti-depressants. I know they help a lot of people and if you have to take them then you definitely should, but I knew it wasn't for me. I knew I had to do something. I couldn't just keep existing. I wanted to live.
Depression is like a poison. It gradually consumes your entire body until there's nothing left. Before, I realised I was a terrific actor and not of the Kristen Stewart kind but now I was as lifeless as the entire Twilight saga. I couldn't keep everything inside anymore. I needed to figure out an outlet. So I started to write. I had always loved writing but I had stopped when I started college.
Like anything, I had to face my fear and at this time, I was terrified of myself. So I started to write. I felt like Bruce Willis in Friends when he opens up to Rachel! So, a word of advice, if you are about to embark on exposing every single fear and emotion on a piece of paper, don't start the process on your lunch break in your student bar!
I wrote everything from how I felt in myself to how others had made me feel. It was difficult, I wanted to stop on countless occasions. I had hit the wall but I had to keep going. After a while, once I had written down all the shitty things in my life I now had space in my head to focus on the good. I felt like I was getting a huge bitch slap to the face. I was suddenly hit with all the good things that were in my life that at one time seemed like a blur.
I could see that this was a huge step but I couldn't leave it there. I couldn't face this alone. I rang my mum and told her that I was depressed and I would start counselling and after a time if that didn't work I would start on anti-depressants.
I was once again in a waiting room. I hadn't been this nervous since my Irish orals. Why was I here? Counselling is for people who like weren't breast fed as a child or people who eat insulation or like to burn things? As soon as I walked in, I realised that that wasn't the case at all. Nobody can hold everything inside and everyone needs help at one time or another.
Depression is not a quick fix, nor does it have a once size fits all cure. It takes time. It's frustrating and it's not something that just goes away. I still have bad days but for every bad day, I have ten good ones. Every time I feel like I'm going back, I know that I got through it once and I will get through it again because I now know that it's OK to ask for help and I am never alone.
Your mental health is the most precious thing you have. Don't abuse it and don't ever let anyone make you feel like your problems don't matter. There are loads of different counsellors out there and some just won't suit your personality and that's OK. It's not like ordering a chicken roll and you get stuck with the new one who doesn't know her arse from her elbow. Don't be afraid to ask for someone new.
Depression doesn't mean you're weak, it means you are stronger then you can possibly imagine. You don't have to simply survive depression, you can defeat it. It can be hard when you can't see the end of the tunnel but I promise you it's there and you never have to be alone facing it.
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light" Dumbledore