Me.

The entire point of this blog is that it is anonymous. I could be anyone. 

However, I have to tell you a little about myself in order to start this diary. I'm currently studying English Literature and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick in England. I'm in my very early twenties and at the beginning of this academic year, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. 


So why am I writing this? Well, being depressed at university can be a very challenging experience, and I hope that by sharing my thoughts and experiences, I'll encourage several things:



  1. Depression and other mental illnesses must cease to be a taboo and something people are ashamed of.
  2. People should feel more able to seek help if they think they're suffering with mental illness.
  3. Students need to be more aware of those around them and how they might be feeling.
People make the assumption that depression is an obvious illness, that there must be something 'different' about someone with depression. Let me debunk that: I go to uni dressed in pretty much the same clothes everyone else wears, I drink coffee at all the same places they drink coffee, I've been to all the student events and clubs everyone else has been to. I'm not a loner - in fact I have some very, very close friends at Warwick and I'm active in a number of societies. I'm not a typical 'nerd' - I'm more than capable of talking to people, in fact sometimes I talk too much. I'm not pale and thin (though I'm not fat - not that being fat is bad... unless it's unhealthy) and I don't look shit unless I'm hungover.


I know I'm lucky. I’m going to one of the best universities in England, a country known for it's good standards of living. Sadly though my illness often won't let me feel happy. In fact, my condition gets so bad at times that I spend days in bed or staring at walls feeling hopeless, isolated and sometimes suicidal. I know it's not right and I don't want to feel this way. But my illness makes my brain a lot like the weather - unpredictable, temperamental and most importantly completely beyond my control.

This all has a huge impact upon my life: I have trouble developing and maintaining relationships with everyone, including my family (I've stayed single for goodness knows how long, and pass it off as not wanting to be tied down); When I go out I can suffer with panic attacks; My levels of productivity are atrocious – we aren’t just talking standard procrastination, we’re talking a grown up crying for no reason before opening a book. 

Literally a handful of people at Uni know about my condition, and they’re all sworn to secrecy.  Despite the heroes in the books I study (yes, even Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey if you must...) in real life, being depressed isn't ‘sexy’. It means ‘alone’, 'shunned' and being labelled 'different'. Being frank, depressives aren’t always a lot of fun. We can constantly find reasons not to love the world, we can be prone to extreme mood swings, we can find going out very difficult and we switch between wanting you in our lives and wanting to save you from being in our lives. I’ve had friends who have had even more pronounced depression than me, and it can be really challenging to cope with. 

So I hope over the life of this blog (I have no idea how long I'll keep this up), I'll manage to get some way towards achieving my goals. 

For now, Ciao.

x



Comments

  1. With respect, (keep in mind I totally support the overall mission of your blog), you need to be careful with your presentation with *your* experience of mental health, how it interacts and inhibits *your* personality, hobbies, etc, and mental health in the broader picture.

    I'm referring notably to "Let me debunk that: I go to uni dressed in pretty much the same clothes everyone else wears" -- I have mental health problems, and I wear 'strange' clothes, often I am unable to clean them -- "I've been to all the student events and clubs" -- my depression has alienated me from such events -- "I'm not a loner" -- I am -- "I have some very, very close friends at Warwick" -- I'm jealous -- "I'm active in a number of societies" -- due to my depression, societies terrify me -- "I'm not a typical 'nerd'" -- so what of people that are typical nerds?

    Don't get me wrong, it's great that you're trying to displace a stereotype, but you're doing so in such a manner which rather implies that said stereotype doesn't exist -- and slightly that it's fundamentally reductive to approach mental health problems with such debunk-able stereotypes in mind.

    As said, I support this blog, but depression is more than ... well, to be frank, the mental health experiences of an otherwise normative student (one who likes lots of societies, parties, clubs, makes lots of friends, etc). I'd feel better if this was more implicit in your writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only point out my "normative" state because it's a facade. I act, essentially. And it's exhausting. It means I sometimes need to disappear for days to recover. It's sad that I can't be more honest with people about how I'm feeling, and when I'm uncomfortable (such as in clubs, as my next post details). But, there's overwhelming evidence around me that people aren't accepting or compassionate or mature enough to cope with the truth.

      Delete
  2. With all due respect to you Anonymous, and I say this as a fellow depressive who went to Warwick - you've made the point that the stereotype does exist and I agree with you on that, but I don't think 'Charlie' has to change the way he writes. The wider picture is probably worth a mention, but if this is an outlet for him - it's going to be very difficult to write and ultimately frustrating if he has to adhere to certain rules. I don't think he means for any of this to be a fully balanced account of depression, just his *personal* story (correct me if I'm wrong).

    I sincerely hope you both find some relief. - D.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had bouts of depression when I was at uni, too. Not Warwick, but I have a feeling the problem is common everywhere. It was pretty bad towards the end that I didn't even go to my graduation.

    Truth is, it's really hard to provide support for students with depression. The general approach of centralised student support is basically that the student patient has to make things right themselves. The staff are there just to guide them with the formality of getting them back on track. Taking more interest in struggling student patient costs a lot of time and money.

    From the student's POV, the last thing you want to do when you're depressed is emailing and knocking on office doors of a bunch of people who you only know because they look familiar around campus.

    I went to see a student counsellor once. I failed a module as I didn't sit for the exam and failed to resit in the summer and was enrolled in another module with the former as prerequisite. She basically gave me a to-do list of what I needed to do and all the people I had to get in touch with to get some leniency. My depression got really bad and I just gave up because the whole process was just too painful.

    It's hard enough to admit you're depressed to your own GP (which is another nightmare), now you have to explain to departmental secretaries of your problem. You automatically feels like you are being judged stupid/lazy/problematic/etc, like you're making their job more difficult than it already is.

    I really don't know what's the point of me writing this but if I get to go back in time, I wouldn't have gone to uni. It's just not a place for people like me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wanted to say a quick hello and add another voice of support for the blog. I'm a recent graduate of Warwick and struggled with depression the whole way through my time there. My experience was slightly different to yours, because the closest friends I made at Warwick all suffered from depression as well, we all dealt with it in different ways, but managed to give each other the support we needed. We had a small community that helped us feel validated and this meant we mostly managed to overcome the worst parts of our respective fears.

    I say this because, although I'm sure your friends are lovely people, they shouldn't be taken as an authority on the subject, as I'm sure this blog is rapidly proving, there are a lot of us out there who too easily feel ashamed of our conditions, building a community is a big step towards calming, rationalising and overcoming that shame.

    I couldn't agree more with what you're saying, and I hope this blog helps you find some peace of mind in all this.

    Snoopy

    ReplyDelete
  5. https://www.facebook.com/WarwickMindAware?fref=ts

    Have you heard of these guys? They are new to campus.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello,
    I'm a student at Exeter University and came across this blog when a facebook friend shared it.

    I just wanted to express my support for your blog. I had a bout of depression in my first year at university. Moving into a small room next door to strangers and being completely on your own for the first time is a strange experience. I had similar experiences to the ones you have described and ended up self-harming.

    After a few months each day became slightly easier, and the depression dissolved. It was gradual recovery and it is still unclear to me whether any of my proactive actions to make myself better, actually helped. To be honest I think it was just a matter of time, i had no control over the depression - it just sort of slipped away.

    Something that kept me afloat during this period was a new friend (who soon became a very close one)who was dealing with long-term clinical depression. She was always open and honest about her illness from the very start - she had dropped out of the previous year because of it. She casually dropped it into conversation the first time we went for coffee 'Sorry, my medication makes me sleepy!' and I immediately warmed to her. Depression is undeniably a taboo - in my family my mother would spend days in bed and when asked told us she was 'tired'. My friend's honesty was refreshing and inspiring. It provided a support system - she was the first person i opened up to. In our friendship group we can talk candidly about mental health, both in a serious and light-hearted way.

    I was surprised by just how difficult the adjustment to university, and living alone in halls was. In my second year now, it is saddening that people (myself included) only now feel secure enough to let on that their first year wasn't all that great. I have had lots of conversations with many people, from different social groups, that although some aspects were fun (things that are over-egged such as - drinking, clubbing, meeting new people)people were overall not 'happy'.

    Of course, not everyone becomes depressed in their first year! There really does need to be more support, awareness and advice about how to deal with the adjustment. This should be facilitated by the universities themselves, but the underlying taboo regarding mental health needs to undergo change so that students can help each other out.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you seem to be doing a lot better now at least. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, and thank you also for getting in touch – it's amazing to think people at other universities are reading this!

      Delete
  7. You remind me of myself. Most days its not worth it. Nothing is.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

End of a Degree. (*Trigger Warning)

My Next Project After Warwick.