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Mandy's Story

My name is Mandy and I think my first experience with depression and anxiety came when I was as young as about fourteen. Our family moved to Scotland where my broad Lancastrian accent attracted the attention of the school bullies. I hated it. Mum and Dad were arguing loads. Dad drank heavily and money was tight. I remember sitting with the family medicine tin one night and thinking would anyone miss me if I took all these tablets and just wasn’t here anymore. I left home as soon as I could after that and was pretty much self contained, all went well for a few years.

Then I fell pregnant and miscarried. Again I had a bout of depression which I just ignored as best as I could. I split up with my partner and ended up in a relationship that was all consuming but not particularly healthy for me. My confidence disappeared and rather than face the fact that it was the relationship I needed to get out of I ended up on anti-depressants to try and “fix” myself.

I stopped taking them when I realized they couldn’t fix the relationship. It ended eventually and I met my current partner a couple of years later. He is so supportive and we have always got on fantastically. We went through a period when he lost his parents and suffered a bout of acute stress which hospitalized him. Then in a very short space of time my nephew committed suicide, my dad died and my mum found out she had only six months to live.

Things were horrendous and to cap it all I became ill although I wasn’t aware I had a problem. It caused me to lose my job and almost cost me my relationship. I didn’t recognize myself, I was sleeping for about sixteen hours a day, had no energy at all. Put on lots of weight, suffered from severe memory problems, irritability, anxiety, depression, fluid retention, being incredibly paranoid and hostile. I tried cognitive behavioural therapy which I found interesting but couldn’t help me as much as I needed it to.

I was still tired, crying constantly and suicidal. People told me it was grief so I went to see a councellor who told me she thought it was a physical problem. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. I was put on medication to treat it and one year on things have improved dramatically. I still suffer with anxiety and depression but they are always going to be symptoms of the condition. I thought it was a weakness to take anti-depressants before, that it meant I wasn’t strong enough to deal with the mess my head was in. Now I know depression is an illness like any other.

I take medication for thyroid which allows me function, I take anti-depressants to help with the anxiety and my quality of life has improved dramatically. I laugh, I have fun. I hardly recognize myself sometimes. I just thought I was a person who was never meant to be happy, that the universe had conspired against me. That is not the case, depression is an illness which has the power to isolate people. Treat your depression. Help yourself in any way you can. In the words of the advert “you’re worth it”.

Maybe I’ll feel this way without medication one day. It would be nice, but I no longer feel weak or ashamed to admit I have depression. So what. I also have big feet and a mouth that gets me into trouble sometimes. I am just me. Warts and all. I have good friends, a nice family and a wonderful partner. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Mandy