Still Alive: My Struggle Against Depression

Depression and loneliness

Life is hard for everyone. Whether the struggles be financial, medical, emotional or otherwise, we all struggle to an extent in coping with living on a day-to-day basis. If you charted these ups and downs on a chart, with the central line being a situation where everything is okay, one might find a moderate but generally balanced trendline that fluctuates between “above average”, “average” and “below average”. Now, imagine that chart, but with average at the very top of the axis, and the trendline heading slowly downwards.

That’s how I’ve tried to explain my severe depression to the numerous doctors, psychiatrists, support workers, two paramedics, three police officers, friends and family that I’ve encountered in the past three weeks. However, no words or phrases can aptly describe the feeling of being totally dejected. The feeling that is intensified when money, which could be used to make life easier for myself and others is spent (to the tune of half a million a go) on airstrikes in Syria. When the government believes blowing people up on an indiscriminate scale is a better use of money than helping those who might end their own lives on a daily basis in this country, it is clear that the government that was designed to designate funds to vulnerable individuals like me has failed in its duty of care to its citizens.

Let me tell you about myself. I’m twenty years old, and for the first twelve years of my short life, my existence was idyllic. I still look back on the period with happy memories, but to be honest, that life feels as if it happened to someone else. As if it were just a story. Although I’ve had ups and downs, the trendline I spoke about in the opening lines has indeed been sloping downwards. This culminated in several failed suicide attempts, countless near-misses, my flat being entered by officers of the law, emergency paramedics, general medical staff and abject misery on a scale that often leaves me unable to leave my bed.

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Have you ever been scared, when you were a child, that there were monsters under the bed? The creatures that you were scared of, even though you never knew what they were. That’s reminiscent of the way I feel sometimes. I feel as if I’m constantly running from bad feelings. I don’t know what they are, they don’t have a form. They don’t manifest themselves in the real world. But I’m terrified of them. So petrified that often the situations that arise when they’re present convince me into believing I’d be better off dead. And God would know, if God existed, that I’ve tried to make things better. So many of us with this hateful, decrepit condition do. But when the support infrastructure isn’t there, when depression still isn’t taken seriously, when our national health services fails to cope with demand and when therapy can take years to manifest, how exactly do I go on? The message from the government in my view is clear. You are to fight this, by-and-large, alone.

Of course, in lieu of a proper support network, I’ve built one myself. I speak to my father on a daily basis. I have friends that do their best to help me. I call Samaritans when I feel like I can’t go on. I keep the day that I’ll see my beautiful, supportive, wonderful and purpose=giving girlfriend again as fresh in my mind as I can. I take anti-depressants, I go out to work to earn money, and try to study for my qualifications. But as time and time again have proven, sometimes that just isn’t enough.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard that David Cameron and the parliamentary chamber of this country have decided to back air strikes in Syria. The website ILM Feed published a swish infographic that I read the other day regarding the cost of a single airstrike in Syria is £508,000. No doubt, millions of pounds will be spent killing terrorists, terrorist affiliates, and no doubt some innocent civilians. Let’s say that the UK, at a VERY conservative estimate conducts twenty airstrikes at a cost of £10 million.

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This money could be used to build a mental health facility. It could be used to create better support networks for those suffering with depression. It could provide additional funds for research into more effective antidepressants. But it isn’t. Government money should be geared towards improving lives and not ending them. This is something that is greatly frustrating. The government, in my opinion, has a responsibility to its citizens first and foremost. This is something that should be propagated in all areas of funding, but when I’m surrounded by bad thoughts and feelings, trying not to be overcome, it beggars belief that money that could be used to help me is literally exploding on another part of the planet.

I don’t have all the answers to these problems. Hell, sometimes I don’t even have the answers to my own. But when people suggest the stigma towards depressives has gone, I laugh at them. If stigma towards depressives was truly gone, the government would spend less money on “fighting the Islamic State”, and more money on those of us that this government’s representatives promised they would protect.

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