Two years ago, in July 2009, I sought help for the first time. Two years ago, in Year 12, I went to the school counsellor and for the first time in four years since I started cutting, I told someone about my self harm. It was from that point on that things started moving along quite quickly. I went from going without help for years to seeing the school counsellor, going to a GP, being referred to a psychiatrist, all within the timeframe of months. It was terrifying, provoked anxiety and felt surreal.
One thing that helped? Having a friend who was also going through something similar. Being able to talk about my experiences with her. Knowing that someone else understands what it’s like to feel depression. Not being the only one who saw mental health professionals for help.
Of course, there were some downsides to this relationship with my friend too. But at the time, it helped immensely to be told what to expect at a GP appointment for a Mental Health Care Plan, before going to experience it for myself. She was the only one to text me after my first ever appointment with a psychiatrist to ask me how it went, upon noticing my absence at school and realising where I was instead.
We were friends prior to sharing mental health problems as something we had in common, but the fact that we were both going through something similar served to bring us closer. Eventually we drifted away from each other. At first it was because she became closer to the friends she made in hospital. In less than a year, she was hospitalised four times due to her mental health problems. We then graduated from high school and failed to keep in contact. She has since seemed to achieve a full recovery from her depression and from what I gather, does not keep in touch with her friends from hospital either.
I remember the vast amount of support she received when she was going through depression in Year 12. Unlike me, she was quite open about her mental health issues, a lot of people knew what was going on. She had the Head of Year, school counsellor and teachers all supporting her. She had her friends backing her. We put together a ‘Happy Book,’ full of pictures and kind messages, telling her what an amazing person she is and that we’d all be there for her through this tough time. I remember feeling envious of the amount of support she received. At the same time, I was glad that she had all these people who were there for her, and grateful that she was the one person I could share my experiences with, knowing that she can fully empathise.
I’m thinking about the past, and I’m thinking about the present. However alone I may have felt then, it is not as lonely as I feel right now. At least back then, I had a couple of friends I could talk to, who knew what was going on. I feel as though history is repeating itself, to some extent. It’s following the pattern of Become-close-due-to-the-sharing-of-similar-experiences then Drift-away-from-said-person to Friend-goes-to-hospital-makes-new-friends-becomes-close-to-them-instead.
Originally I met friend number two online last year. I have since met her face to face a few times. A couple of months ago, we were emailing eachother back and forth. I told her a fair bit about what was going on with me and my mental health issues and similarly she told me a lot about her situation. She was the one who texted me when she was afraid she may have taken an overdose. I am still friends with this person but perhaps we are not as close as we were previously when we were exchanging emails frequently. Just a couple of weeks ago she was discharged from hospital after going inpatient for two weeks. Of course, she has made friends with the people she met while in there. I feel now that she has made those friends, she doesn’t need my friendship anymore. It is through no fault of hers, it’s just the conclusion that I’ve come to through my own insecurities. Social anxiety doesn’t help either, where I get stressed over texting, phoning or sending messages to people.
Sometimes I really do wish I had someone to talk to about this. Someone to share my experiences with. Someone I can tell when I have an awful psychiatrist appointment. Someone I can tell about starting on medication. Sometimes I just want someone to hear me without me having to shout and scream. Yet when my non-mentalist friends find out about my mental health issues, I run away. I block them off, I refuse to talk about it.
And so, I am left feeling very lonely indeed. It’s when I’m feeling alone, like I have no one to talk to, that I turn increasingly to the internet. It is here that I am able to type out what I desperately want to tell someone but can’t, and hope that it’s online I can find some understanding and people who can relate.