I can't really drink, because I take anti-depressants. So every time I go out, I can get as into it as I like, but I'm sober enough to either have the thought "Whoah don't get off with someone! What if they want your number!" or the thought "Don't bother speaking to them, they won't like you" or both. Now, don't get me wrong, so far I sound the same as everyone else right? So here's some stuff to put things into perspective: I've only got with one person whilst I've been at uni, and I've not slept with anyone for nearly two years now. With depression, you kind of lose your libido.
The problem is that I know my life's slipping away from me. I'm young, surely I should be having the time of my life? Hedonistic ways should rule, surely? As long as I'm not hurting anyone, I should be having fun and exploiting my youth!
Sadly, no. I just physically can't enjoy the same things my friends enjoy a lot of the time. When I go to a club, I sometimes get panic attacks and I'll be stuck in the toilets trying to breath and stop myself from crying. When I'm in "romantic" situations, I just feel the overwhelming need to push people away. I get into this self destructive headspace where I need to alienate myself from people and be alone. I literally ignore calls, texts, emails etc. from my own family sometimes. How can I hope to function in a relationship?
A close friend of mine, who doesn't know about my illness, recently said "When someone tells you they're, like, depressed... you never look at them the same, you know?". I sat there agreeing. And it struck me that I was agreeing with my worst fear. I would plead with you: the next time someone seems distressed in a club, the next time you notice one of your friends pushing people away, the next time you notice someone actively avoiding any form of relationship, ask yourself "why?".
Fear is the worst thing to live with at University, and at my age. I hate to think of how I'll feel when I look back on this. And one of the worst parts of it is living a lie. That's the worst impact depression has on my relationships with people. My love life aside, I've lost touch with friends because I know they wouldn't understand what I'm going through. I had another friend who dropped out of Warwick through mental illness, and nobody talks to her. It's as if she's ceased to exist. Me and one other keep in touch with her. She's treated like some embarrassing disease! And the truth is that people aren't mature enough to cope with what happened; In some cases, people are too selfish to cope. Many of her former friends take the attitude of "this is a really important time in my life - I can't be dragged down by a depressive". Others just feel too awkward to know what to do.
We're still human, people with mental illness. That sounds so melodramatic, but it feels like someone needs to say it! I'm not as happy as you, that's the major difference. Why can't people my age show a bit more understanding an compassion? It's too late for me really - I've lost nearly half my degree to depression. But I'd like to think that a greater awareness could be raised amongst student about this. Maybe Cathryn, the next Welfare officer for the SU, could do something to change the collective attitude. The way my therapist (I have Cognitive Behavioural Therapy under the NHS) explained things to me when I got really angry about having my condition is something I think people in general need to bear in mind:
If someone had an ailment, from a simple cold right up to a chronic disease, would you be sympathetic and compassionate towards them?
Yes, I answered.
Then why wouldn't you be sympathetic towards mental illness? It's basically your brain, with a cold!