Lucy, a 20-year-old Cardiff University student, shares her experience having depression and the ways she’s fighting it.
Content & Trigger Warning: This blog shares themes of depression, eating disorders, and self-harm.
What is depression?
Mind’s definition of depression is “a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life”. The TED-Ed talk below shares more about depression and how it can impact a person.
I first started to struggle with depression around the same time I developed an eating disorder. Not eating became a way to punish myself and gain some control over the guilt I felt after breaking up with my boyfriend. Every thought I had was consumed by what my body looked like, how much I had eaten that day, and how I could eat as little as possible without my family or friends noticing.
A misconception about eating disorders is that people who suffer from them don’t like food. But the opposite’s true. Most of us are obsessed with food. I would spend hours scrolling on Instagram looking at desserts, pizza, and burgers – all things I would tell myself I couldn’t eat. I’d fantasise about what I wished I ‘could’ eat and constantly be thinking about my next meal.
After restricting my food for six months and physically seeing the life drain from me, on New Year’s Day, I decided I couldn’t carry on like that.
By the end of January, I decided to try going ‘all in’. In this method of recovery, you give up all restrictive eating disorder behaviours. For example, by allowing yourself to eat when you’re hungry, eating until you’re full, and not tracking calories or weighing out your food.
These behaviours aren’t inherently disordered, but when negative and restrictive thoughts are attached to them, that’s when they become disordered.
A side effect of this approach was quickly gaining back the weight I’d lost when I was in the depths of my eating disorder. On the outside, I looked a lot healthier but internally, the result of seeing this rapid change was very hard to cope with and took me to a dark place. I started to purge and self-harm as a way to deal with my thoughts and weight gain, but that didn’t help.
When I woke up, the first thing I wanted to do was go back to sleep so I wouldn’t have to think or feel the sadness anymore. Feeling like this made living feel like surviving, and trying to hide how I felt from the people I cared about was exhausting.
After talking to friends and hearing their worry about me, I decided to reach out and book an appointment with my local GP and my universities mental health team.
I was almost afraid to get help because I couldn’t separate myself from my sadness and thought that if I tried to get better I’d be losing a part of myself. When you feel like that for so long it becomes easy to feel comfortable in the sadness. It’s easy to forget what ‘normal’ or ‘happiness’ feels like.
Getting professional help was the best decision I’ve made. Being able to talk through my thoughts with a therapist and knowing my university was supporting me along the way was priceless, especially when depression can make you feel so alone. With the additional help of taking antidepressants, I’m starting to feel like myself again.
Although I’m not magically ‘cured’, having professional support has made my day to day life so much better. If you’re struggling, I really advise you to talk to a friend or family member or reach out for professional help. It saved my life.
Things I do to fight depression
- Casual Magic
I first heard this idea from a YouTuber called UnJaded Jade. She defines casual magic as ‘finding magic in the everyday mundane. Finding just one thing, no matter how small, to find beauty in and appreciate every day’. When the world seems so dark, seeing the magic in something small like a pretty flower or a new song you listened to can make your day even a tiny bit lighter.
2. Small Goals
Setting small easy goals every day makes me feel accomplished. Even something as simple as getting out of bed or brushing my teeth. Feeling like you’ve achieved something can be the little boost you need in your day.
3. Staying connected
Making sure I’m around people every day really helps to break me out of a negative cycle. This could be hanging out with a friend, calling a family member or if I’m not up for talking, going for a walk to connect with nature helps too.
For more information about eating disorders check out TheSprout’s article for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. To read about another person’s experience with their mental health, read about Ellie’s struggles with body dysmorphia.
If you would like to talk to anyone about any theme within this article or similar issues, please contact Meic. Meic is the national information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people in Wales.
Open 8am — Midnight, every single day.
Phone: 080880 23456 // Txt: 84001 // Online chat: www.meic.cymru