What It Feels Like To Have Depression | Body Language
When I tell people I took a year off uni,
I always say it’s because I was unwell.
But I never say I was mentally unwell.
I know people will react differently,
but it shouldn’t be that way.
Those two statements should be treated the same.
I think the first time I told someone I was depressed I was 11.
And they were like,”You’re 11.
Do you even possess the complexity to be depressed?”
When I was younger,
I’d let my thoughts just run away from me,
and they’d usually end up like a very dark Shakespeare tragedy,
but with more people of colour in it.
Very gloomy, very sad.
Later, as a teenager, I’d put on this black coat
and sneak out of school to walk around town.
My friends were quite literal about it.
They called it my depression coat.
When I arrived at uni, I…
I sort of lost it.
It was this crazy explosion of trying to figure out
my own personality, make friends, adjust,
and balance all my mental illnessyet to be discovered.
I felt paralysed by the stress of school.
It was like someone had cranked up the pressure in my body.
And I spent a year fumbling for the valve to turn it back down.
The night before an exam, I was in my room,
the pressure had really cranked up,then something snapped inside me.
I remember thinking, “OK, I’m going to die.”
I had to call my mum to tell her,”OK, I’m not doing my exams,”
and she wasn’t getting it at all.
Like someone being confusedabout why penguins can’t fly.
“They’ve got two wings,like all of the other birds,
“so why don’t we just throw oneout of a plane?”
And then I had to be like,
“I tried to kill myself.”
I got on medication for a while –
daily intakes of sertraline every morning with my breakfast.
I used to joke to my friends,
“Apparently happiness tastes like orange juice.”
I didn’t like that it sort
of made me feel a bit of a lie,
like someone had just turned up some sort
of button in my psychology,
or some sort of dial.
So I went off it, and the relapse was awful.
It felt like someone had taken 1,000 rubber bands
and just tightened them round my skull,
and I felt very dizzy and very nauseous.
Until eventually it went awayand I was like, “Great,
that’s done now. Not doing that again.”
So I didn’t decide to do a year out,
it was deemed on me.
But I realised I could use it as an opportunity
and I made time to explore my mind.
What worked for me in the end is not something I could have planned for.
The thing that was probablythe biggest impact for me
in sort of changing my psychology
and changing sort of my outlook is being more open with everybody.
What’s kind of interesting is when you have
like an open conversation with people,
have a cup of tea with someoneand say,”Oh, yeah, here’s what
I did in my year out, blah blah blah,
and here’s why I was unwell,”
you realise that other peoplehave gone through that,
and it’s hilariously normal.
I did a big Facebook post saying,”Hello, everybody, it’s me.
“I’ve been very depressedand suicidal. How are you?”
And then sort of ran away from my laptop
like I’d just released some sort of naked photos on the internet.
But, you know,
not only was there lots of loving feedback coming back,
but it was this sort of liberation that I had taken control
of the thing that I’m hiding fromand it’s now mine.