08 Nov My Experience | Depression and OCD
My battle with Depression
Hello! My name is Libbie, I’m 20 years old and even though my mental health has been a big part of my life for nearly 7 years, it’s still really hard to talk about. But I feel this is such an important thing to do and to speak about.
I wanted to start by saying thank you so much to Alex for giving me this safe space to share my experiences. I’ve never done anything like this before and she’s created this safe and caring environment for people like myself to be able to open up about different mental health struggles, and I feel that what she’s doing is so important.
So I of course have to start this by saying a huge thank you to her.
My, I’m going to call it journey, with my mental health started when I was 14. I was in the middle of high school and finding things really difficult. I had low self-esteem, not many friends, and when I went home – I felt really lonely. I had absolutely no reason to feel lonely. I had a loving family and people around me that sincerely cared for me, but I had this overwhelming feeling of loneliness and sadness from within myself.
I have always been in a constant battle with myself over my appearance, my weight and my body image, and going through puberty and teenage years, that struggle was really heightened.
I became involved with a group online which I thought would be a positive, understanding safe space. However, this was probably the start of a really dark period.
The group was toxic and had a toxic mentality towards mental health – Self-harm was encouraged, suicide was also encouraged and the people who I then started to surround myself with became very destructive to not only themselves, but also to me. It became apparent that nobody in this group cared for me – unless I was causing myself harm.
I then found myself in a relationship with someone that I met in this group. He also struggled with depression however used this to emotionally manipulate me. This experience brought out all the insecurities and anxieties I had about myself and made me feel ashamed and worthless.
My overwhelming feelings of loneliness and worthlessness started to take over my life.
I began to self-harm regularly – and a lot of people who self-harm will say this, (and it is 100% true) but it felt like at the time, self-harm was the only thing that was in my control. The world around me: my school, the people I was involved with… I felt trapped. And self-harm was the only thing in my life that I could do on my own and have full control over.
It was a release of all the negative energy, thoughts, anxieties… and it was my way of coping with all these feelings I had never experienced before or felt I knew anything about.
I also developed an unhealthy relationship with food – I would either go on a complete binge, eating all the wrong things, or I wouldn’t eat at all. And there was no in-between.
When I was 15, I stopped going to school.
I was heavily depressed and let it control me. I couldn’t get out of bed anymore, I couldn’t eat and all I wanted to do was sleep. I can only describe the feeling as numb – having not even the energy to cry.
I was in a really dark place mentally and physically with no energy to think about taking care of myself. No energy to brush my hair, brush my teeth, or even get in the shower. Everything felt like a momentous event that I just couldn’t push myself to do.
Things started to turn around for me when I actually stopped and had the conversation with my mum about what I was doing, and how I was feeling. It was only then that I realised just how deep into this hole I had gotten myself, and how much I needed help.
The thing is – when you’re in that situation, you believe there is no way out. When in reality, speaking about it to someone you trust can lift so much of that monuments weight that you carry around all by yourself. I’m not going to lie; it was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had, but my life is so much better for it now.
I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)* therapy for 2 years and it gave me the strategies I needed to be able to cope, and process the thoughts and feelings I’d been having but never really understood why (or how) they’d found their way into my head.
I learned more about my triggers and discovered things about myself that I didn’t even know – things I wasn’t aware I did – self-sabotaging and destructive things.
I cannot stress enough just how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. VocalMinds brings like-minded people together, who are going through the same difficulties and creates a positive, safe environment which I personally think is the most amazing thing.
When Alex first told me about the app I couldn’t help thinking to myself, if VocalMinds had been around when I first started my struggle, how things could have been so different.
I hope VocalMinds can help people avoid the negative stigma and conversation around mental health, and instead create clarity and understanding, as it really is so important to talk about. Everyone should be aware of their own mental health, and not be afraid to ask for help.
I still to this day struggle with my depression and I still have anxiety attacks, however I have the best support bubble and no matter what, no matter how difficult things get, I know it can always, always get better. There is always a positive to be had – even on the darkest of days. And I can’t stress enough just how important VocalMinds is and how amazing this app is to people like me.
If you are struggling with your mental health just know how strong, courageous and amazing you are. To battle with your own mind every day is such a hard and tiring thing to do. But remember, talking about your mental health is not a weakness – it takes strength and courage to speak out.
* Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. [Source: NHS.uk]