I’d been self-harming for years before my Dad found out and forced me to go to the doctor.

At first, I was prescribed anti-depressants. But these just seemed to make me worse, so the doctor gave me anti-anxiety tablets as well.

Being diagnosed with depression made me judge myself harshly. I felt like having depression was a sign of weakness. Other people didn’t help to dispel those feelings. So many people accused me of being lazy or called me an attention-seeker. Others just seemed to think I was a horrible person who was being negative on purpose. Because it’s so much fun, right?

I just wish people could understand that mental health is not a choice. I didn’t choose to have depression. Just one mean, off-hand comment can do real, lasting damage, but a little bit of compassion goes a long way.

I’m now 23, I’m working and living with my partner. It’s five years since my diagnosis and my treatment has included anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

After everything I’ve been through, I wish I’d known before how much talking to other people with similar problems helps! It’s so easy to get trapped into thinking you’re the only person in the world who feels that way. But really there are thousands of people who will talk and understand you because they’ve experienced the same thing.

If there’s one thing I would say to someone suffering with their mental health, it would be this: be kind to yourself. People with mental health issues are often their own biggest critic, but that won’t help you to get better.

Be your own best friend and treat yourself like you would treat your actual best friend if they were suffering.