Sunday, July 23, 2017

Depression - how I got help

Oh Hi,

I have often, on this blog and other social media, hinted that I've suffered with mental health problems or the like, and I've always said that I'll talk about it some other time. It has never felt right and I've always wondered when I should write about my story, and how much I want to share. It's a scary world to be honest in, and I know that whatever I say or write is out there forever.
But why does it feel like I can't be truly honest about my struggles? Why does it feel like I shouldn't share my story of suffering with depression, suicidal thoughts and anxiety? Is it because of the stigma around it all?
Truth is, I'm very open about it in real life. All my friends know that I've suffered from depression and they know that I currently suffer from anxiety. Some of them know the whole story while others know bits and pieces. But they know.
If anyone in real life, face to face, asks me if I've ever suffered from a mental illness I'm honest. I answer truthfully and openly, because I don't see a point in denying it. But I guess on the internet you can choose what to share, and you only want to share the good parts that make you look like a perfect human being with no problems or struggles in life.
But, I'm not perfect and I've had problems and I still have problems. I suffered with severe depression all my teenage years, and even before that. It's unclear in my head exactly when I started feeling depressed, and of course it happened gradually, over a longer period of time, but I remember having suicidal thoughts at the age of 11, maybe even 10. I remember this, because I had written in my diary, declaring that the world would be better without me and that I was useless. I found this diary when I was clearing out my room to renovate it, and it broke me. I have memories of feeling depressed or extremely sad when I was as young as 7 years old.
I suffered in silence for many years, until I was 13. I had started middle school and I remember how difficult it all was, in my group of friends and everything was all over the place. I confided in our school nurse, because I remember thinking the school counsellor looked scary. I don't exactly remember what the school nurse said, but it felt like she didn't take me serious. Another time I had a breakdown in school, and my friends took me to the counsellor. After that I started to see the counsellor every other week or so. Honestly this period in my life is very blurry, I think I've blocked it out and I don't tend to think back to it very often.
The current counsellor switched schools and we got a new one. I started seeing her and I remember doing a depression test, that would basically determine how depressed I was. When I had filled it all out and the counsellor had looked over it she said "well, according to this you're severely depressed but I'm not actually allowed to do an evaluation.". In my head I was screaming, begging her to call in a psychologist that had the rights to do an evaluation and could get me some real help. But no. I was quickly finished with seeing that counsellor.
October of 2012 I had had enough of adults not listening to me. I was going to try one more time, and if nobody listened then, I was ready to leave forever. We had a day in the woods with my whole grade that day, 25th October 2012. It was cold, and wet and I remembered we had sausages and something else to eat, and I laughed and acted like normal. When we finished the day, everyone else went back to school by bus, but the bus dropped me off right outside our house, as I lived quite close to the woods we went to and had gotten permission to not have to come back to school to then have to go back home when the teachers and I knew we'd pass my house when going back. I walked home, got changed and jumped on my bike, and rode the 6 km to our hospital. I knew if they didn't listen at the hospital I could give up.
I went up to the desk, and as soon as the woman sitting at the desk looked up at me, I started sobbing. I told her I needed someone to talk to and that I needed help. She asked for my name and then she found out I was at the wrong section of the hospital, so she led me to my section. There was another desk with a nurse sitting behind it and I told her the same thing. I needed someone to talk to. I got to sit down and wait and soon enough I got taken into a room to talk to a nurse, who scribbled down something and then told me she'd contact a doctor to come talk to me. I found out that the doctor I was going to meet was a gynaecologist but that she was an all round doctor and cared for everyone. She was very busy and she was at another hospital, so I waited in the room, and after an hour or so the doctor came.
She introduced herself and sat down, the nurse gave her a coffee and left us alone. The way the doctor looked at me I knew I could trust her, and she asked me what was wrong. I told her I had been suffering with depression for a long time and that nobody had listened. I told her I needed help immediately because I was ready to give up. She listened and nodded and when I was finished she came with a solution. She got me an appointment for the next day to a psychiatrist, and she told me that I have to have a parent with me because I'm so young (I was 14). She gave me a note that she wrote for my parents so that if I didn't want to explain they could just read that and she wished me good luck. I rode my bike home.
When I got home my dad and brother were already home, I hadn't expected the hospital visit to last that long. Dad asked me where I've been and I said "to the hospital". He looked at me and asked why, and I don't remember what I replied. I think I told him that I was depressed and needed help, but I'm not sure. When mom came home I told them that they needed to come with me to the psychiatrist the next day and that I wasn't going to school. They were of course both in shock.
The next day we went to the appointment. I don't remember much of it. I remember crying. I remember mom crying. I remember dad being quiet. And I remember the psychiatrist asking me if I thought I could be at home and be safe or if I needed to be in hospital to not commit suicide. I answered honestly, explaining that I didn't trust myself to not kill myself. Mom cried more.
So it was decided. I would go home, pack, and come back to the psychiatric clinic for children and teens later that day. I got a tour of the place and then we went back home. Mom cried even more and asked me if I wouldn't be fine at home. I said no.
I was in the psychiatric clinic for a week, doing nothing. It was good for me to get a break from school and everything and just focus on myself. I met a specialist nurse who I would get to go talk to every single week to start my recovery.
And so I started on the road to recovery. We first tried meetings with the nurse once a week, and a mild sleeping pill to help me fall asleep. I found that that wasn't enough and so I got a little stronger sleeping pill and continued with the appointments with the nurse. In February or March 2013 I started taking antidepressants when we felt that the therapy and sleeping pills weren't enough. I continued the therapy though.
I consider 2014 the year I was mostly free from depression, I was 16 then. The antidepressants had made a huge difference to my mental health and they, together with therapy, got me back to what I think I was before depression. To be honest, I don't remember that person before depression. I just know depressed me and recovered me. I still suffer from anxiety and I consider anxiety a side effect of depression, I tend to say that it's what's left of the depression. So far I have found that I can't get completely rid of my mental illnesses, but I'm trying. I'm still trying.
In Finland, when you're 16 you can legally get 3 years of free therapy if Kela (a company that pays unemployed people, students, the elderly etc etc, they basically give benefits to all kinds of people) finds that you need it. So in August 2014 I stopped going to the nurse (she wasn't a therapist, just a specialist nurse) and started going to see a therapist every week. In August my 3rd and final year is coming to an end. My therapist has helped me so much, she has taught me techniques to handle my anxiety and she's helped me overcome some of the worst things in my life. I've seen her pretty much every week for 3 years, and she's gotten to follow me for 3 years as I've been in my final years of school.
While I still suffer from anxiety, and it still hurts to think back to the bad days, I know that I will never have those bad days again. I know it will never get as bad as it was then, and I know I'm so much stronger now. The road to recovery wasn't easy, and I wouldn't say I'm at the end of that road, but it has been worth travelling on the road to recovery. Recovering is so much better than being buried under ground. It hurts me so deeply to think that I was ready to give up life, and that I felt like it wasn't worth it anymore. If I could, I would tell my 13-year-old-self that I'm worthy, and my life is worth fighting for. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it's super far away.

What's so dangerous about mental illnesses is that the people suffering from them learn how to act. They learn to act like everything's okay, and most of the time nobody notices that they're not okay. People suffering with mental health problems should all get an Oscar, because we are honestly the greatest actors ever. But that's not good. It's not good when we act like we're fine and like everything's okay, because we're carrying the burden all by ourselves. It's not safe for anyone to carry the weight of their own dark thoughts alone. And it just gets heavier and heavier, because the longer you hold a glass of water, the heavier it feels.
If you're reading this, and you feel like the world is closing in on you, talk to someone. I truly know it's easier said than done, but you deserve your life. You deserve happiness. Talk to a friend, a parent, a teacher, a nurse, a counsellor, a doctor, a policeman, a firefighter, a mailman, ANYONE. If the first person you tell doesn't listen, tell someone else. Keep talking until someone listens, because you deserve being heard. You deserve to get your life back, and you will get your life back. It might feel like you're all alone but you're not. There are so many people that love you and care about you, and they all want the best for you. Someone will listen, I promise. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for help, it's a sign of strength. Remember that.

If you don't personally suffer from any mental illness, make sure you take care of the people around you. People who are suffering often suffer in silence, and they don't take care of themselves. Show the people you love that you love them. Let everyone you care about know that you're there for them. Be kind, be loving, be a friend. If you feel like someone you know is suffering, talk to them. Tell them you're there for them, let them know you care. But even if they don't seem like they're suffering, still show them you care.
Also know if someone confides in you and tells you that they're suffering from a mental health problem, you don't have to carry that weight all by yourself. Tell the person suffering that they should get professional help, and maybe offer to go with them. Let them know you're there for them and you'll always listen, but know that you don't have to deal with it on your own. If they won't tell a professional, you can. I know it might feel like snitching, but trust me, in the end they will thank you. Tell their parents, or a teacher, or someone, because anyone suffering from a mental illness needs professional help.
If you need someone to talk to, I'm always here to listen and help the best I can, but I can't stress enough how important it is to get professional help. They know how to help you and it's their duty to help you. Please never feel like you won't get help, because there is help out there. Sadly you just sometimes have to fight to get the help you deserve.
Please take care of yourselves and each other, because your life is worth it, and theirs are too♥

If you google "help for mental health in *name of your country*" you will find all the information you need about how to get professional help and what kind of help you can get!

Site to help you vent (on the site you can find other calming sites they have that can help you if you're having a particularly awful time)

Have you seen my latest youtube video?

Trapped | ItsMaddiehbu

1 comment:

  1. What a very brave and honest post Maddie. I'm so glad you got the help you needed. It is so important to speak about mental health. Thank you for bringing more awareness through your personal experiences. I wish you all the best for the future.