We all know by now how teenagers throw the word depression and anxiety around like its the new ripped knee skinny jean; what we are not realizing is that though it is not hurting nor offending anybody, it is making real mental issues taken less seriously. I know this from experience!
I am writing this to let people know the damage it does to somebody actually suffering depression when you self diagnose and let the world know about your new ‘mental illness’ like its cute. I’ve been around people who have told me on a regular that they are suffering severe depression yet they haven’t been to the doctor’s ???? I’ve also been around a lot of people who say they suffer anxiety (most common one people throw around especially girls), and also this was the worst I’ve heard a couple of my friends tell me they are diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and another one said the doctor told them they have a personality disorder! I know these weren’t true, because I know they aren’t on any medication and also as a concerned friend I spoke to their parents and they were as baffled as I!
I do not have any severe mental illness and I am not writing this to make people aware of MY issues, this is to make people aware of how people throwing the words around affected me and to warn people actually just how dangerous it is to self diagnose then tell people what your new ‘mental illness’ is.
I remember being in my mid-teens and starting to feel low and acting out when something wasn’t going the way I wanted or anything that went wrong in the slightest, making the biggest deal about it and honestly feeling that the whole world was against me. I thought all these feelings were just teenage mood swings, hormones and stress of school. It all started when a family member got really sick and I watched them deteriorate with my very own eyes. It was the worst experience and sadly I had to say goodbye, this was my first experience with death of a loved one. It really did effect me and especially as my family is so small with only 7 people including myself, no aunties, uncles or cousins so my family is very tight. Anyway, all these feelings at first were grief, I know that but the way it started making me lock myself in my room and want to be alone and when I had a particularly low moment it would send me into hallucinating. I remember my first time I hallucinated through feeling so down and low, I was sitting on my floor against my door as I wanted to be alone and didn’t want to be disturbed. I was staring at the floor and all of a sudden it turned into water with slight ripples in it as if rain drops were delicately falling onto still water, I squeezed my eyes together to make sure I was focusing properly and it wasn’t just my eyes going hazey from staring too long and I focused and then it slowly changed back to my carpet. I was extremely confused but not so scared as I have suffered hallucinations a lot as a child but hadn’t hallucinated in a good few years. I remember telling my friends how I felt and could only explain it as feeling ‘low’ and hallucinating when I felt really down and they were like ‘yeah I get like that too its just depression, I have it.’ So at this point I was really confused I knew something wasn’t right but chose to ignore it as it seemed normal as many people my age were apparently going through the same.
Anyway many months passed still suffering the same but trying to ignore it but gradually feeling worse as I was thinking ‘how is everyone else coping with this and I just can’t?’. I was crying myself to sleep every night in hysterics silently making sure not to wake my parents as this would be embarrassing if they found out. I had my first suicidal thought one night but quickly snapped out of it as I knew this was wrong and forced myself to think of something else, so I binge watched a new series on Netflix to take my mind off of it. Also at this point my anxiety started kicking in and the only time I’d be leaving my house is to visit family and wouldn’t really feel comfortable doing that.
At this point I am now 19 been feeling like this for around 3-4 years silently as I was told this is ‘normal’ I’ve by now had regular suicidal thoughts then thought I was selfish and absolutely crazy also have self-harmed a few times. When one night I had been on a night out with my friends when I got home and admittedly I’d had a drink and anyone who is feeling down anyway should stay well away from alcohol as this just brings the worst of the worst out. I went into the bathroom slit my arm and was crying out to my mom as I knew I’d been stupid. (This was not an attempted suicide nor was it dangerous enough for it to need hospital care but it was deep enough to leave two of the ugliest scars I am now ashamed of). My mom came running up to see what was the matter and my dad came out of his bedroom to see what all the commotion was about and I’ve never felt so ashamed and embarrassed yet still so sad in my life. After a few days of long talks I got myself into the doctors to sheepishly tell them ‘I have been feeling down lately’, how the hell do you tell your doctor all this without feeling stupid, ashamed, embarrassed and like you are wasting their time. I was booked to see a mental health professional who then got me many months of one to one counselling.
I now have the help I have needed for a very long time, and also now my family knows how I feel, I am watched carefully and they are very understanding. But this went on for years and I got worse because I wasn’t getting the help I needed as I was told this was normal. It really wasn’t, I felt so alone and like nobody understood, I honestly felt crazy because everyone else had ‘depression’ yet they were all leading normal lives and kept their friendship groups, whilst I socially excluded myself became home bound and was so panicky about leaving the house but embarrassed to tell anyone how I felt.
At the end of last year I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which is an auto-immune disease with symptoms that include depression and anxiety. So now I don’t feel completely crazy and know I have reasons why I felt the way I did and can say yes I was suffering depression and anxiety and still am, its a battle that is not easy to get over and I don’t think I ever will but I know it gets easier and I have good days and bad days. But because of people throwing the word depression and anxiety about like its a fashion trend and its cute to have a mental illness, it’s really not. I suffered for years because of self diagnoser’s, you really don’t know what you are doing to the people that are genuinely suffering silently and honestly it makes it so much worse. Please be more considerate and if you really do feel down/low, talk to someone and get down the doctor’s, its not embarrassing but its also not cute.