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"How was I supposed to go on with everything I was feeling inside?"

Nikki tells us about her struggles with depression and her journey to self acceptance.

Trigger warning: reference to self harm and suicide. 

In January 2021 it will be 20 years since I started to feel depressed and anxious. I was 15 years old. I would cry while getting ready for school but when asked what was wrong, I did not have an answer. I was not being bullied. I was not stressed with exams. I just felt like I could not go to school. At the time, my parents were not that helpful. I was taken to the GP, but he wanted to avoid going the antidepressant route, so he referred me to a counsellor. I was nervous about this as me and strangers did not mix (they still don’t). I was as mentally prepared for the appointment as I could get, when my mum told me that she had cancelled it. When I asked why, she told me that if I couldn’t talk to her then what made me think I would be able to talk to a stranger. I got to the point that I just “sucked it up”.

I went about my day like there was nothing wrong, but inside I was dying.

It was not until I left Secondary School that the suicidal thoughts set in. I had decided not to go to college, so I had a lot of time alone and would think about how easy it would be to end my life while everyone else was out at work. I just felt like everyone who knew me would be better off without me around. They would not have to pretend to like me, love me or think I was an interesting person worthy of knowing.

I thought once I got a job that things would get better, but there were just more people added to the list that would be better off with me dead. It was 16 years ago that I began to self-harm. I told myself it was practice until I got up the nerve to end my life. This lasted for 3 months. It wasn’t until one random day that I hit rock bottom, and as I was bleeding into a sink full of water I knew that not only was I not going to die that day, but that I needed to get help.

I was home alone. My parents were on holiday and my sister had moved out, so I got ready for work. I walked to the office and spent an hour basically staring at the computer screen working up the courage to ask my manager if we could have a chat. Why her? To this day I honestly have no idea. Anyway, courage came, and we went into a meeting room and I remember just rolling up my sleeve, showing her the cuts on my wrist, saying “I did that” and then bursting into tears.

That was step 1. Step 2 saw me showing up on my Auntie’s doorstep without notice. She took me in and let me sit and watch TV for the morning, but after lunch, came the time for another round of honesty. Step 3, she helped me tell my sister and step 4 was my sister taking me to see the GP. I had no idea what to expect at that visit but signing me off sick for 2 weeks to see how I was and then make another appointment was not it. Being dismissed when I was barely holding on was like a punch in the gut. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. How was I supposed to go on with everything I was feeling inside? It goes without saying that I saw a different GP from then on.

I was put on antidepressants and I thought that was it. That they would get in my system and all would be right. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. A year later and I was still feeling at worst depressed and at best numb. I was referred to a psychiatrist to for further help and after 3 or 4 different antidepressants I finally found “The One” (we are still together happily!). The problem now was getting to the root cause. The why of it all. Talking therapy was not for me, so I told him what I thought he wanted to hear and eventually I was signed off. No more trips to the Shrink for me.

It took me a long time after that to be honest with myself. 

The why was me. How I felt about myself was the main issue, and once I started to accept that I was an ok person, that I wasn’t a burden etc. I started to feel, dare I say it, happy. I still struggle. I still get depressed and anxious but for the most part life is good.

I used to let life pass me by. I would hide behind my anxiety and the fact that I don’t have a bunch of friends to do things with, but since I’ve become more comfortable with myself I’m doing things and going places I never thought I would.

I go out to eat on my own.

I go to the cinema on my own.

I go to Comic-Cons on my own.

I go to concerts on my own.

I holiday on my own. This is a recent achievement. The 1st attempt did not go well but the second attempt was perfect.

If you are reading this and you are struggling, know that you are worthy and you can do this.

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