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“I wanted to end my life when I was 17, thanks to this medication I’m still here today.”

Being open and vulnerable to my friends about the disparaging thoughts I have about myself has helped me set up a support system.

“That’s my one-month supply of anti-depressants. I’ve been on them for the past 6 years and will probably continue to take them for the rest of my life. They don’t make me happy, but when I don’t take them, all food tastes like sand and I hardly feel like eating. When I’m regular with these tablets it takes me ten minutes to fall asleep, otherwise it takes hours. They don’t make me happy but they do allow me the possibility to taste food and get the sleep my body needs.

The treatment for my depression doesn’t end with these pills, I also see a therapist once in a while. I am constantly battling inner critic in me and I write down my irrational thoughts and challenge them. A healthy diet and regular exercise keeps my mood from plummeting for the slightest reasons. Being open and vulnerable to my friends about the disparaging thoughts I have about myself has helped me set up a support system. I do all this to have the opportunity to experience happiness.

I wanted to end my life when I was 17, thanks to this medication I’m still here today. Diabetics generally have to take medicine for the rest of their lives, and it doesn’t make them any less of a person. In the same way, my medication does not make me any less of a person. I am not weak. Never was and never will be.

P.S: Thank you for the incredible support I’ve received so far. I didn’t do it alone. I couldn’t have. My family has never once shamed me for taking meds or going for therapy. For a family that comes from a small town, they were very progressive. I was able to publish this post in a public forum, because my workplace is very open and supportive, and they don’t judge me for my illness. And, of course, my fantastic friends who have been there for me every single day, even though we are thousands of miles apart.

“What is it like to be depressed? I narrate a few of my experiences that stand out.

Part – 1

I’m at a nice restaurant with some friends. The food has come to our table. I take a bite, turn to my friends and ask, “Is the food okay?” One of them responds, “Yeah, it’s very good. Why?” I am quite surprised and say, “It is so…tasteless”.

I lost the ability to enjoy eating for a few weeks and my appetite went down so much that I lost nearly 10 kilograms in a month. It’s important to recognize that the opposite can also happen. Some people’s appetite increases and they put on weight due to depression”

Part 2

It’s 4 am. I’m staring at my 12th grade Botany textbook. I will be tested on this chapter during the first period of school today. I read the words. I know what the words mean but I cannot concentrate long enough to comprehend the sentences. My eyes roam over the first paragraph over and over again. I’m simply incapable of concentrating. It’s 7 am now and I still haven’t gone past the first paragraph.

My stomach starts churning and I feel like throwing up. I feel feverish. I have a headache. I’m terrified of failing this test, and that how’s my body reacts. I inform my parents of my sickness and they reluctantly allow me to stay home.

I had about 20% attendance in school during my 12th grade because of anxiety and depression. From 1st grade to 11th grade, my attendance was nearly 100%. My public exam score of 70% in 12th grade is the lowest in my academic history.”

Part 3

I have reached my office and switched on my laptop. I’m in the kitchen making myself a cup of tea. I feel like crying and I can’t stop the tears. I have a sudden, intense urge to leave the office right that moment. There is no reason for me to feel this way. Everything is absolutely fine.

Worried that depression was back to haunt me, I call up a mentor and explain the situation to her. She tells me that a lot of people don’t like to work on Monday mornings and that I should try to stay put in office. I manage to stay in office all day, but eventually, there are many days when I am unable to stay the whole day, or even get to work in the first place.

This was my second depression episode. Depression is a chronic illness that comes in episodes. These episodes generally last a few months. If an individual has had a depressive episode once, it is likely that they will have it at least once more in their lives.”

Part 4

My brother’s always been my most favourite person in the family. He’s hilarious and he tells great stories about his (miss)adventures. As a child, I spent many nights fighting sleep just so I could listen to more of his experiences.

That night when we went to bed around 9 pm, he was talking about his most recent trek. By midnight, he was feeling sleepy. He really wanted to keep me company, but eventually gave in to his exhaustion. I lay staring into the darkness, as thoughts kept whirling in my mind. I wanted so badly to fall asleep, and I couldn’t. Not until 2 am.

Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are common in depression. People find it harder to fall asleep and may also wake up earlier than usual. They might spend the day feeling drowsy and listless.”

Part 5

I look around the bathroom for something sharp. I’m tired of fighting with my parents every day to allow me to take leave from school because I have a stomach pain/headache/fever. They are not visible and my parents are not buying it anymore. I really cannot go to school today and I had to give my parents a solid reason. I spotted the Dettol bottle. It’s nearly full with the dark brown liquid.

I turn on the tap and crouch on the wet bathroom floor. Hoping that the running water would muffle the shattering sound, I break the Dettol bottle on the floor. The brown liquid turns a dirty white as it washes over the tiles. Adrenalin rushes through my body and I pick the largest piece of glass in my right hand. I’m terrified of pain, but I am out of options here. I would do anything to get out of going to school today.

I slash my left wrist with the glass shard. Nothing happens. I run the piece over my wrist a little harder. It stings a little but nothing happens. I try again and again, with more force every time, but nothing. I check the shard, wondering if something is wrong with it. I use all of my strength and rub the glass against my hand. Still nothing. The skin is turning red, but there is not even a scratch. Not even one drop of blood. I put down the piece and sob. “I am an utter failure. I am not even capable of cutting myself. I am the most useless piece of shit.” One of the lowest points of my life.

Now I’m extremely grateful for not being able to cut myself that day. I have even laughed about this incident recently but it is still very hard to talk about it. I was anxious and didn’t want to go to school. It was definitely not laziness or irresponsibility or “childish behaviour”. I still do not know the best way to deal with such avoidant behaviour, but maybe yelling at me, as my parents did, wasn’t the best solution.

If anyone you know is talking about harming themselves (especially suicide), please get professional help. They are not seeking attention. They are seeking help.

If you’re in Chennai and want help, please use the following helplines: 91-44-2464 0050, 91-44-2464 0060 and “help@snehaindia.org. Sneha Foundation India”

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