I had suffered with low self-confidence and depression since I was in secondary school. I felt extremely bad about who I was as a person and like I didn’t fit in anywhere.
I hated myself as a person. I felt that I had a second, darker person inside me that the world could never see because everyone I knew would hate me if they knew that person. However, I also felt that I wasn’t sick enough to be on medication and that I should’ve just been able to get myself out of depression.
People need to understand that depression can’t be fixed easily. It’s not just about being miserable. It’s a whole way of thinking and acting; it becomes a part of someone and people can’t put pressure on someone to change who they are overnight.
I was always on guard about how I acted in public. I still feel like I’m being judged sometimes; even if I’m doing something completely normal I worry that someone would think I’m odd. I smiled when I was miserable inside for fear of being judged and felt like I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling in case they looked down on me. I felt like no one would want to be around someone who was sad all the time.
When I was 14, I started self-harming. This carried on until I went to university, when I managed to stop. But by my final year, the bad thoughts had started coming more frequently. I started self-harming again.
I finally got up the courage to tell a close friend what I was doing and was encouraged to go and see the doctor. That was scary. But, actually, the doctor was great, he was understanding and showed me a website I could sign up to in order to try some CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). He also signed me up with a counsellor and got me onto anti-depressants.
I also made some changes to my lifestyle. I started training at the gym a lot more and found that regular exercise made me feel a lot better day-to-day.
All that exercise helped me deal with my symptoms alongside medication and therapy, but it also led me to a career as a personal trainer and competitive power lifter. At 27, I have five British records and I’ve represented Great Britain in a World Championship!
I wish I’d known that it’s ok to be a little different and odd. It doesn’t really matter what other people think of you – most people are actually more concerned with themselves.
Talk to someone and if they don’t understand, talk to someone else. Keep talking until you find someone who does understand. Feel good about who you are. Believe that things will get better for you and work on small daily habits that make you feel good about yourself.
Take the small victories.
If you manage to shower and dress, that’s a win.
If you manage to go outside for a five-minute walk, that’s a win.
If you can say to a friend “hey, I’m not doing so well over here”, that’s a win.