In this guest article, Steven talks about his journey with depression.
My teenage years were a time of despair, confusion, insecurity and punctuated by periods of anxiety and depression.
I had no idea what was going on other than a feeling that something deep inside was wrong but I could not name it or
tell anyone about it. I didn’t have the words, the vocabulary or the knowledge to assess what was going on.
I played the joker to feel liked and this gave me some superficial sense of belonging and approval. But it was thin soup. It didn’t nourish me or help in the long run. As a young man it was especially hard growing up in times when men were meant to be strong, didn’t cry or talk about their feelings.
There was no school counselling or pastoral care or any GP’s who understood teenagers and their angst. Parents
were knackered working all hours and in a big family you learn to be invisible. You can quietly suffer while other louder siblings get
Leaving home was hard for someone like me who was unprepared and naive about the world. A dead-end office job bored
me to the bones until I risked all and left to do a degree. Study was my salvation. The ability to lose myself in books and student life helped my self-esteem and I learned through trial and error about friends and relationships. Gradually I learned about mental health, depression and anxiety. Knowledge is power and I felt that knowing what I was facing helped me cope.
Seeking professional help was a key moment in my long road to recovery. Accepting I was ill and could not fight it alone was the first crucial step. Counselling, therapy, and medication have been on my menu for many years and I am now a qualified psychotherapist helping troubled teenagers.
So the wheel has turned full circle. I offer my experence as a resource to young people who struggle with trying to cope with the impact of abuse, parental mental illness, divorce / separation and all the other powerful forces exerting pressure and immense stress on their vulnerable selves.
For those who feel at their wits’ end, or in too much despair – remember there is help out there and the hardest thing to do is to accept you need it and that you have a right to receive it without judgement, criticism or prejudice.
Asking for help can feel like a risk and an admission of failure but it is actually the bravest thing you can do and takes courage that still exists somewhere inside you.
Photo credit: j.f.m II – photo does not show Steven