Growing up I knew mental health issues existed, I just never thought I would end up with them. I had used the phrase “I’m so depressed” many times as a teenager. If I could go back, I would tell that ignorant girl to wait a few years and then she’d know what depression meant.

I’ve always been an introvert; withdrawn and quiet.  I had faced obstacles just like everyone else does at some point in life. But what surprised me was the way I reacted; when things got hard I became even more detached.  Activities that I had once enjoyed – reading, going out, even eating things I liked – became too difficult.

It wasn’t until my workplace picked up on it, I guess, that I did too. That’s the thing about depression you don’t realize you’re in it until you’re far gone. I honestly didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, it was just a bad day that turned into a few bad weeks and then a bad year.

After a pretty mortifying conversation, my boss made me promise to seek help.

That night I locked myself in the bathroom that night and sunk to the floor and cried for hours. I was worried about what the doctor would say, embarrassed and ashamed of the person I’d become. It was then that I realized how empty and hollow I’d become in the last year.

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The diagnosis was severe depression and I was given anti-depressants. The first few weeks were hard. Overall, the antidepressants didn’t make much of a difference to my mood, but the side effects were awful. I was always nauseous and I lost a lot of weight. They made me shake continuously. It was a good thing it was getting colder out, so I didn’t look like a complete nut.

I went through three different sets of anti-depressants, which meant three sets of side-effects. None of the anti-depressants particularly worked. It started affecting my life and my ability to work and I took too many sick days. After a particularly awful panic attack, I broke down and quit. It was impossible to keep working when my body was basically attacking me.

I told a few people about the depression but I kept it mostly to myself. Mental health was a taboo subject; it wasn’t something my friends or people that I knew talked about freely. I was worried about what people would think of me and I was so ashamed that I had let it get this far.

At this point, I decided to tell my parents what had happened. Discussing mental health with my Indian mother was pretty painful. She meant well, but she didn’t understand. She couldn’t comprehend why I couldn’t just ignore it and get on with life. Over time she has become a lot more understanding about it. Around the same time, I also chose to stop taking the anti-depressants as I had become so unwell from taking them.

So here I was 24, mentally unstable and unemployed. It felt like the end of the world, but it was merely the beginning.

It was during the darkest of my days that I discovered my love for writing. I’m not sure I would have found it had I not been searching for an outlet. Looking back; the depression had always been within me, I had just never acknowledged it. I have been seeing a therapist who is helping me understand how to deal with depression and anxiety. The whole experience made me realize how unhappy I was with my life and forced me to make some changes. I am learning to do the things I love, even if they frighten me. Especially when they frighten me.

For the first time in a while, I am excited to see what I can achieve and how far I can push myself.

I’m not fixed.

I’m sure that this is something that will always be a part of my life and I am finally learning to come to terms with it. I have days where I can’t get out of bed or do simple things like shower and eat. I still have panic attacks. These are things that won’t change for a while. But I’m learning to deal with it when I have a bad day I don’t let it destroy me anymore. I take each day at a time and I’m still learning so much about mental health and myself.

The funny thing is if you asked me whether I could erase the last year and take away the depression, I’m not sure I would. It’s a huge part of me and I’ve become stronger because of it.

  • Mitta Thakrar

    As Senior Now & Beyond Editor, Mitta is on a quest to make science relatable and popular. She is based in the UK, in the countryside far away from humans. Mitta has a law degree but has somehow ended up in the wondrous land of writers. She writes everything from poetry to short stories and hopes to finish her novel one day. Additionally, Mitta can be found avidly reading or playing with her cats.