Conor Cusack is the inspiration behind this post. He has helped me and thousands of others with his brave and honest account of his battle with depression. That post was published last year and since then we have seen a huge difference in how our country is dealing with mental health. Conor is an amazing man, a role model and most definitely a hero.
I know this isn’t what I usually write about and I know it might be a little bit difficult to read but if I can help even one person by opening up and talking, then it will have made this worth it.
I am meant to be writing out stuff for college right now but my mind is so full of crap that it’s impossible to focus on anything. That “crap” is overbearing, deep, dark thoughts that will not leave me alone.
That crap is depression.
Depression is so hard to put into words. It’s like a physical pain, but you don’t know where it’s coming from so you can’t go about fixing it. It’s like the worst headache you’ve ever had that you think your head will explode and an ache in your heart so immense that it feels like it’s breaking apart.
I was always a very anxious and worried child, growing up hadn’t been easy. I can remember as far back as being about 6 years old, I was constantly worrying about something, anything. I struggled throughout school; I compared myself to others and constantly felt inadequate, which led to years of self-hate and self-doubt. It wasn’t until I was around 11 or 12 when I actually realised how sad I had become. It was around that time when I started going to see a therapist.
It feels like the depression grew with me. When I felt like things couldn’t possibly get worse, something else would happen. Year after year it built up and it has taken me this long to learn how to control it, or so I thought. I never know when it’s going to become so strong that it takes over. I never know if I will be able to cope with it or if I will fall, again.
The last few years have been what can only be described as pure torture. I allowed depression to destroy everything for me. The help I was offered did not work. The multiple counsellors, doctors and anti-depressants did not work. I felt I was becoming a burden to everyone; my friends, family, even my teachers back when I was in school. Other people’s approval and happiness was so important to me, but I felt like I had let everyone down. Depression changed my perspective on life. It was like it took control over my affections and so isolated me from those who I loved. I went to sleep every night and hoped I just wouldn’t wake up. I genuinely thought - what was the point in going on?
The last year or more in particular hit me hard. I decided to take a year out after my leaving cert as I had “screwed it up”, or so I thought. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to achieve my best at the time but it is still something I beat myself up over. I started working full time and eventually found two jobs that I absolutely adored and was able to feel almost proud of myself. I had never felt that before. If it wasn’t for those distractions and responsibilities, I’m not sure if I would have had the strength to keep going. However, those commitments and distractions naturally came to an end. It was then that I slipped into the darkest place I had ever reached.
When you’re so depressed and not thinking straight, you begin to contemplate the worst. I have seen what suicide has done to families, I know how absolutely horrendous it is for those left behind. I genuinely thought I was doing more harm than good to my friends and family by being alive. To me, it was the only way of finding peace for myself, and for them. These thoughts weren’t my own; rather the ones depression had conjured up in my mind. I had thought about it for years, but they were only just that: thoughts. January 2014 was when I decided I wanted to take action. I eventually admitted everything to my Mam and she took me to hospital. I stayed for 7 hours and came home, exhausted from explaining to doctors how I was feeling and why. Leaving hospital that day was a mistake.
The end of June was when I took the biggest hit and fell into that “dark place”. I can usually feel a breakdown coming on; I can almost predict the day. I had had enough; I didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I wanted out and I was going to make sure I stuck by my decision this time. That day is so clear in my head, from the very beginning. It was as if I woke up and just knew that something was going to happen. I did so much thinking that day. I cried for hours on end because it felt so real. I cried writing a note, I cried thinking about my family and what I was going to do to them but I stupidly thought it was better than staying and causing them more pain. I cried so much I became numb. I cried when I heard my Mam going out to the shop and realised she had left my younger sisters in the house with me. I’m not sure if I was crying out of relief or out of disappointment then. I know for a fact if I had been left on my own I wouldn’t still be here.
I was brought into hospital and stayed in a psychiatric ward for 5 days although it felt like 5 weeks. It was the worst few days of my life. I was in a state of shock. Everyone I knew was out enjoying their summer holidays while I was stuck in this place that depression had driven me to. I was numb and felt completely hollow inside. The staff were incredible but I couldn’t fully open up to them. I just smiled and pretended I was “definitely feeling better” so that they wouldn’t keep me in there any longer. Yet again, that was another mistake.
For a while after I was doing all the right things to get better. I was going to see my amazing therapist, I was telling my Mam when I felt low, I was making sure I wasn’t on my own when I felt upset. I was being honest with my friends about what had happened. I was talking, I was opening up. It was when I stopped talking that I slipped. That and certain things at the time brought me right back to square one. I could have given up then but I reached out and took the help that was offered to me. I still feel scared, paranoid, so down that I don’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. I still cry every single day without fail but I try to talk to those around me. I am realistic with myself. Little steps in the right direction are better than great big leaps that you might not be able for.
In September I moved out and started college. That for me was a “big leap” and not something I thought I would be strong enough to do just yet. There are days when I think it was all a massive mistake and that I need more time to heal and build my strength back up, and then there are days when I actually feel proud of myself for getting this far. Take each day as it comes; be proud of the little things. Getting up, getting dressed and preparing yourself for whatever is in store instead of hiding in your room in fear. If you’re so exhausted the next day then allow yourself to rest. Don’t put pressure on yourself to “be okay” because eventually that will catch up on you and you will fall down. I did fall down and for the last few weeks I have been struggling to make it through each day. I know I’m going through a bad episode and certain things just aren’t in my control but I’m doing as much as I can to prevent myself from getting any worse.
Depression is a real thing. It needs to be talked about and it needs to be handled in the right way. I never again want to see the pain and heartache in my Mam’s eyes when I had to say goodbye to her as I was led down the hospital corridor to my room that night. I never again want to have to try and explain that I was just feeling “a little bit sick” to my little sisters when they asked why I was away for those few days. By talking I know I won’t let those things happen again.
To anyone out there feeling the same way, or feeling in any way sad and alone, please just talk.