Karolis (25) is studying at university. He came to the big city from a smaller town.
During my first year of study, I was engaged in activities common to university students: lectures, library, seminars, parties, and even joined the university orchestra. That was in the first semester of my studies and I met new people and had fun too.
At the beginning of the second semester, I did not have any mood swings - I was in constant contact with my family and friends from school. I was used to feeling part of a family, a community. You can see everyone at school, many of them you know well or are even friends because it is a close-knit group of people, but university is a big institution where you see people, but they are not always nearby. You just meet them in lectures.
I started to feel as if everyone was condemning and hating me
Although I had found like-minded people, I began to feel very lonely. In fact, the world seemed like an extremely negative place. I started to feel as if everyone was condemning and hating me. I thought that nobody loved me and that this problem only affected me, so no one could help me. What else was I thinking about? Oh and I thought that even if I be missing, nobody would care.
I was one of the best students in my class
When I was in school, my main goal was to get into university because I was convinced that being at such an educational institution was like stating who you were. I studied day and night. I was one of the best students in my class at school because all I did was learn and I had no personal life. When I had a girlfriend, I couldn’t develop the relationship because I was so focused on my education. For me, that was the most important thing, so I sacrificed a lot. I even studied on Christmas Eve and during the New Year. After school, I had additional studies with tutors. I was very eager to get into university and I thank God I got there. If I hadn't, I would have thought, "I tried so hard and sacrificed so much - my relationship with my girlfriend, my social life, but I didn't get to university ..." But luckily I did.
So when I got to university, my main goal was how to achieve everything. I had no other clear purpose except that of graduating. That clear goal was just to receive just a diploma, because in order to achieve anything in this world, you have to have a diploma. Maybe not everything needs it, but most things do. I lived with such thoughts.
While I was trying to find my purpose, I often thought about a lot of negative things, tragedies, poverty, homelessness, rape, murder. There are a lot of good things and a lot of scary things. Airplanes crash, bridges collapse, terrible tragedies take place. I was a Christian, though I did not consider myself to be a Christian. I was not deeply hopeful. My questions to God were, "Why did you create such terrible suffering in this world? Why? "
There are different kinds of love, but I didn't feel any of them because I always felt lonely due to my condition
Basically, I lived in a world full of egotistical and selfish people. I guess the only exception were my parents because they cared about me and loved me. I think love is something that can be defined as a selfless act. You show this when you want to take care of another person. You have to make every effort to do this. This is love. In this world, love is diverse - paternal love, friendly love, and then there is passion based love of one person for another, and more broadly a Christian love of the Creator for his creation. There are different kinds of love, but I didn't feel any of them because I always felt lonely due to my condition.
Sometimes I would say to someone, “There are so many thoughts in my head. Why is the world so terrible and nobody seems to care?” Then my classmates, who had to prepare for the tests, would say to me, “Yes, yes, let's talk about it later,” and they went away. They did not take the time to chat because they were all very busy people. Employment itself is not a bad thing, but if you are so busy that you don't even care about your friends, it's a problem, isn't it? And so I felt like that. This did not happen suddenly. Those distressing thoughts grew gradually. After that, I tried to commit suicide in my room at the dormitory, and as you probably guessed, I failed.
Out of desperation, I called my dad
I didn't talk to anyone. I was just in my room and struggling to get hurt.
Out of desperation, I called my dad. My dad is a surgeon. I called and said, "Dad, I've just twice tried to do something extremely dangerous. I don't know what I'm doing, but nobody seems to want to help me. I don’t attend lectures. I don't eat, don't sleep. What should I do?"
My dad was and is very supportive and loving to me. He told me, "Son, now try not to worry about anything. Be your own person, but start eating even though you don't want to because it is necessary even if you don’t think it is worth it at that moment. Maybe go out for a walk or do something. Don't go to lectures. Everything is fine and everything is going to be fine.” He just wanted to calm down and calm me down.
After that conversation I thought, "Well, maybe everything will be fine." I just tried to commit suicide, right? That was my intention. I seemed to hear a second voice telling me what I should do…
After a chat on the phone my parents came to me without telling me anything. When they arrived, my first thought was, "Now I'm getting into really serious trouble." After all, according to the plan, I had to succeed at university, I had to make new friends, but I wasn't looking for new friends. I had to like it at university and parties too. I had to succeed in both my studies and my personal life, after all, my dream was fulfilled - I was a student and everything had to look as if, "My life is beautiful!" But no, my life was not beautiful.
I will not surprise anyone by saying that mental health problems in our community are considered as shameful
My parents arrived. They practically forced me to take academic leave. Then they brought me home because, you know, if I were a dad and my son would call me and tell me he was trying to commit suicide, I'd be really trying to help my son. My parents did the same. I am literally so grateful to them for their lives because they have given me so much love. So we came home. I went to see a psychotherapist. I went to her once a week for a consultation and took her prescribed medication. I kept all of this secret for two years until now. It came as no surprise to me that mental health problems were considered shameful. I went to the doctor every week, but afterwards, I never left my room. It lasted three months. I wasn’t only afraid of the world, but also every man and woman in it, for they talk and talk and talk. I began to disappear from life - university, the internet, social networks. I didn't want to connect with the outside world, answer questions or listen to hear comments and rumors.
Basically, I was trying to forget the world, so I started sleeping abnormally for many hours
I was locked in my little room. It was like a prison cell. I was trying to forget the world, so I started sleeping abnormally for many hours. I often slept 17 hours a day. It's abnormal. I watched a lot of TV shows and because the world was collapsing, so was I. I wanted to forget it. When you watch TV, you can become detached from what is happening around you and are absorbed into the world on the screen. It felt much better to me.
All that time, my dad had to work. After all, he is a doctor. So Dad was at work and my mum stayed with me for three months because I might try to repeat it again. I had already tried it twice, so it was likely to happen again later. My mother took an extreme strategy of being near me and watching me closely. When I was at home, she was too. We almost didn't talk because I was so depressed. She was just at home, maybe reading or doing something else. She fed me three times a day because she loved me and wanted me to live. Since my emotional state was not good, I kept saying to her, “No, I don't want to eat. It doesn't make sense to eat. What would happen if I didn't eat? Basically, I wanted to die, but she was feeding me. At first I said, "No," but then turned around and said, "Oh, nonsense, I'll eat."
The essential thing was that my dad was trying to tell me is that life is worth living
There were many small, funny episodes to look back on. My dad is a triathlete, so he enjoys cycling, jogging and swimming. He would take me to a local hilltop. There we had a short run. We did it later when I got better. It was a long process. I thought that the feeling would never end, but luckily I was freed from the grip of depression. So he took me up the hill and I was running slowly. As we went up to the hilltop, there were several places where we could stop and look around and drink some water.
When we were at the bottom, he would say, "Son, these are your teenage years."
I said to him, "Dad, what are you talking about here? This is completely illogical. "
Then he ran a little higher up the hill and said, "Son, this is your third decade."
I said, "What are you talking about here?" Then he ran even higher and said, "Son, this is your fourth decade."
And it went on like this: "This is your fifties, this is your sixties." I responded again, "What are you talking about? I saw a common feature - the difference of ten years, but what did it mean? ”
Then my dad would say, "Okay, do you notice that as you grow up, you see more and more of the world?"
The key thing he was trying to tell me is that life is worth living because as you get older and wiser, you will experience more, and as you face difficulties, you will grow stronger and see more perspectives. That was the crux of it all.
But at the time I was thinking, “What kind of nonsense are you talking about? This is a kind of misconception of Confucius. ”
I wanted to set up my life and look for another purpose
I wanted to set up my life and look for another purpose. I thought, ok I still have the same average grades from when I left university. I still have to discover my purpose. What do I do? ”I thought that surviving was like a miracle because I believed that there was no scientific method that would have helped me survive. I thought it has to be something spiritual. Usually people go to church to look for answers. I felt lost, so I went to church. I started praying and reading the Bible because I was looking for a purpose - what should I do in my life?
First of all, I realised that I had to go back to university. I applied to return and fortunately, I was accepted, and my normal days at university started again. I didn't feel depressed anymore, but I started seeing a lot of depressed students at university - not just me. There were many of them. This is not a minor phenomenon. This is a growing problem.
After returning to education, my social life was restored. One time when I was at school, I used to dance and was good at breakdancing so I decided to join a breakdancing group. The people in the group were calm and friendly. Nobody condemns anyone in this group and there was respect everywhere. A lot of good things happened. In addition, I realized that I wanted to contribute in some way to improving mental health support for students, so I joined the student parliament and started mentoring projects to raise awareness about mental health issues, prevention and support.