I suffer from depression and I have a history of self-harm.
I have done since year seven but due to the stigma associated with mental illness together with my own stubborn ‘I am fine’ attitude, I couldn’t admit it. But then, something happened that changed my whole outlook on life. I told someone.
I was 15 and after holding on to a dark, scary secret for over 4 years, a chain of events made me feel as if I was losing control. I couldn’t cope anymore. I was convinced that this dark secret would soon be exposed and people would judge me. I began to fear that life as I knew it was changing. I was losing my ability to hide this secret away. As my fear escalated and everything was spiralling out of control, in desperation I broke down and finally confided in someone. I reached out and shared my secret; the secret. I told a teacher at my school, someone I knew I could trust.
In doing so, I felt so many things. Firstly, guilt. Why the hell have I told someone else ‘the secret’ that was plaguing me for so long. I shouldn’t have burdened them with the issue.
Then came the shame. I had to face my confidante every day. She knew what had happened to me. She knew everything. She saw me at my most vulnerable; I felt naked and exposed. My rational mind knew that what happened wasn’t my fault and that telling her was the best thing to do. But my depressed mind didn’t. So my depressed mind regretted exposing ‘my’ issue; ‘my’ failing – my dirty little secret.
But it was soon evident that telling this teacher was the best choice. She was not judging me or feeling annoyed that I ‘burdened’ her with the information.
It ultimately saved my life. Because once I told her, sharing my experience, my feelings and emotions became easier. Once I had told her, I felt I could tell another, and finally considered counselling. I was referred to CAMHS or to be posh, Child Adolescent Mental Health Services. This changed my life. I felt like I was not alone anymore, I finally felt like someone was listening.
When you start a conversation about your mental health and the triggers behind it, things get better. Not because some therapist waved a magic voodoo stick in your face. Not because therapy cures it all. But because you’ve freed yourself from purgatory. Keeping your pain, your hurt, your guilt, your shame; your devastation to yourself consumes you. It eats away at you; changes you, shapes you, moulds you. Makes you believe things about yourself that simply are not true. Mental illness suppresses you and dulls your shine. Strips you of YOU. And all you’re left with is your pain, hurt, guilt & shame. It holds you back. It stops you from developing healthy relationships and it makes you believe you are worthless and have no value.
By talking to someone about your struggles, you are allowing yourself to view you externally. You see your mistakes and successes and figure out how you’ll go about fixing yourself. You allow a chance of recovery, otherwise that feeling of guilt, shame and pain will continue to consume you.
Because I started that conversation I got better. Obviously, depression and self-harm will always be a part of me and they have helped to shape who I am today, but I am adamant that I won’t let them consume me the way they did before. I can deal with tough situations now and not turn myself away and turn off the world.
That one teacher I confided in changed the course of my teenage years. I could be in such a different place right now if I was even here at all.
Please confide in someone. Please tell someone how you’re feeling. Because once you do, you can let go of the darkness that appears to consume you.
Remember, you are loved. Someone loves you. But also remember, you need to love you. Love yourself enough to reach out and start a conversation. Love yourself enough to know your mental health isn’t your fault. You deserve to be happy. But you can only achieve that by taking that first step.
It’s good to talk.


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