So today I thought I would write about something maybe a bit heavy, but something that has been close to my heart and thoughts for a long time. Something that I feel I need to get off my chest. They say that to really appreciate life, you have to of experienced a time where life was not good to you. Where times were tough, when you got back on your feet, where you saw the beauty in things for what they were. I can honestly and truly say that I understand that concept.
For the past 2 years, I suffered with depression. It’s crazy writing it down.. However, it wasn’t a constant stereotypical thing that a lot of people today imagine (lying in bed, in the dark, not showering or eating too little or too much).. although I did have some days like that. It hit me at the age of 19 first. It slowly crept up on me, like a thin grey rain cloud during a sunny day. You know it’s there… but you hope that if you ignore it, it will go away. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I was in my second year of college, living away from home. I kept pushing the feeling away, but by doing so I pushed a lot of people away. A lot of friends away. I suffered from low self esteem suddenly for the first time. I started feeling like I wasn’t good enough, maybe even paranoid that people didn’t like me. And so the “shutting myself inside” phase began. My grades began to suffer. And the stage of “hermit Ciára began”.
I had and still have a fantastic boyfriend at the time, and he really helped me. I probably wasn’t 100% honest about how down I was feeling. We were only together and I didn’t want to scare him away. However I can say that until I moved back home to my family at the age of 20, I was in a dark place. And I never went for help. Or told anyone. I didn’t even admit it to myself. Surrounding myself with loved ones, my family, friends and boyfriend really helped. Moving back home for my final undergrad year helped wonders. My grades picked back up, I lost all the weight I gained and I can say I was happier than I had been in a long time. Of course I still had my days but who doesn’t. I felt like my dark times were behind me, I didn’t need to admit it to anyone and I could live on as “normal”.
But it hit again. At the age I am now, 21, I had my first breakdown. The feelings came back and I was so afraid of living in the dark again. I finally opened up to my family, telling them everything after a lot of crying and gasping breaths. The worst part was, I had no reason to feel this way. My family were desperately searching for answers, for some logical reason for me to be so unhappy, and I felt so selfish for putting them through what I was going through. Also, I felt so guilty for what I was putting my boyfriend through. For the first time I was pushing him away too, and I felt I was helpless to control it. I still feel bad when I think back to how I must of made him feel. However, we pulled through it. He is truly an amazing person for being so patient with me.
And now I can say the happiest I have ever been. Because finally with the support of those closest to me, I sought help. I went to my doctor, I got time off work and college. I took time just for me. When people leave school and are tossed into the world of college/work, unreal expectations are thrown your way. You’re always told “it’s going to be the best years of your life”. So much pressure to make the most of your years in college, to do well and make new friends, it’s a lot for some people to handle. Sure a lot of you might of had plain sailing. But I can certainly say I sure as hell didn’t. They don’t warn you about the fact that you will lose contact with a lot of school friends, that you’ll feel lonely surrounded by hundreds of people, that you’ll be thrown headfirst against a lot of pressure over grades and finding your place in the world. And that you’ll feel selfish for all these thoughts in your head. The reason why I wrote this piece is I want young people to know that they are not alone. Don’t be afraid to let go of your school friends, everyone goes down different paths. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t liked, it means that everyone has different lives. Surround yourself with people who love you but most importantly, don’t afraid of being alone. Learning to love yourself and be happy in who you are is the most important thing you can do. Also going for help is the smartest thing you could ever do. Don’t be ashamed to admit that you need help. It’s there for you. Don’t let people scoff at you because you are so young, teenagers and young adults can have depression too. In fact it’s rising. And the more we raise awareness to this fact, the more we can make the most of our young years.
So chin up beautiful people. Don’t be afraid. Embrace life while you can. Be happy. ❤