Relationships.

So I'll probably come back to this a few times, but its very much on my mind at the moment. I'm very much alone at university. This is very much by choice. I pretend to my friends that I'm religious and want to the 'right person' to come along. In truth I don't want to get close to people because I don't want to drag someone into my life. As I said in my first post, I'm very aware of how people see depressives, and subsequently I fear relationships. I entrust knowledge of my condition to as few people as possible.

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!

Comments

  1. A friend of mine from Warwick sent me a link to your blog. Just wanted to say -thank you for writing it, it helps to write about it and to read others experiences, often so alike your own (As with all very real and difficult illnesses the symptoms are similar) and it's so important to raise awareness. It is very sad that a lot of people this age lack compassion and a fundamental understanding of mental illness, but (though they often seem to be a minority) there are people who understand, and who care. & it's never too late! (sayings of comfort like that are always such cliché's, I know). I'm at University and suffer from a chronic illness and subsequent depression which makes having a social life, or any kind of life, an ongoing struggle -let alone having a relationship! Wishing you happiness x

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  2. I love this blog, I think more people are becoming aware of it now, and as you address in later posts I think you should absolutely continue writing more posts if you want to. Sure there's always the worry that it won't reach many people, but you can see the few it has reached are enjoying reading it and it IS helping! I've struggled with depression all the way through my experience at Warwick, and I've had it since I was a kid, and I just wanted to ask you a question. How did you get therapy under the NHS? I've had bad experiences with doctors; every time I've gone they've prescribed me anti-depressants that don't work and when I go back I've been offered no other kind of support. They haven't even told me what my diagnosis is, it's just the broad label of 'depression'. If you happen to see this comment, do you have any advice on how to get better help? The worst thing I think is this problem has happened with my home doctor and Warwick's doctors...

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    Replies
    1. The way I got help was through the IAPT services based in coventry - you can look them up on the internet and give them a call. It's run by the NHS and is confidential. I hope this helps!

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  3. Anonymous - I'm not a doctor, but I've had experience being treated for depression by both NHS doctors and doctors across the pond in the United States. The thing with depression is that they can treat you with different meds and supplement that treatment with other therapies like CBT, but the basic mode of it is simply throwing various types of antidepressants at you (according to the types of symptoms you manifest) until a drug sticks. Ideally, you need to be going back to a psychiatrist fairly regularly to assess progress - that is, increase your dosage or switch/add drugs if it isn't working. Unfortunately mental health support isn't super great in the NHS and the system is pretty taxed as it is, so even to get a psych appointment will probably take you months, and then to get a further referral for something like CBT will take another chunk of time - another 3 months when I was in London a few years ago.

    If you can afford it, I'd really recommend going private. Call up a private clinic in your city, explain that you're a starving uni student and see if any doctors are willing to see you for cheap. You may be pleasantly surprised.
    -Iris

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  4. Hello, I just found your blog now and totally support what you are trying to do. Coming from the point of view of someone who, fortunately, doesn't suffer from the same 'brain cold' as you, I've found it a very insightful read also.
    I sort of experienced the whole finding out your friend isn't as happy as you thought she was. Well, it was one of my best friends, which made it all the more surprising. Her other friend let it slip to me that she self-harmed and had been doing so for years. I managed to keep this a secret for a couple of weeks but then afterwards I couldn't stop myself confessing to the close friend that I knew, hoping that maybe she could find someone to confide in, in me. Instead, she asked to never mention it again, I accepted but wanted to just say a final word to reassure her that my perception of her hadn't changed. I've kept my word, and sometimes I think that she may have forgotten, but of course I know that's not true. Looking back now, I realise I handled this situation really badly. So thank you for your blog, it's allowing me to become less ignorant of what people with depression can experience.

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