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Maria’s story (20)

Maria, a 20-year-old student from a wealthy family.

 

That is what depression is - a feeling of sadness for no appropriate reason

 

People with mental disorders and illnesses are stigmatized in our society and judged by certain stereotypes. I want to talk about my own situation in order to dispel those myths and stereotypes. Many of my friends and even family members, who are well aware of what I have experienced, still do not think of me as someone with mental health issues.

I was diagnosed with a mood disorder: first, it was depression, then bipolar affective disorder, then depression again. However, I think they couldn't figure out what I really had.

I began to realize that I had depression probably when I was 13 or 14 years old, and that I have felt this way for a lifetime - you are sad, but you don't know why. People keep telling me, "You don't have to mourn, your life is wonderful! How can you afford to be sad? ”. That is what depression is - a feeling of sadness for no appropriate reason. Sometimes this condition worsens under certain circumstances, but more often than not, you feel it for no obvious reason. I know I don't have to complain about my life, but I feel as though my life is much more difficult than other people's lives.

 

They thought I was a teenager in a fickle mood

 

When I was 14, I was attacked. A man wanted to take advantage of me. I had never told anyone about this incident until last year. I suppressed that event in my memory. I persuaded myself that it hadn't happened, but now I can see that this event has become an important cause of my discomfort.

For the past six years, every day I have felt as if I have had to fight for survival. I have always needed some help because I couldn't handle my own experiences. I didn't tell anyone about it. Even when I went to see a psychologist with my parents' help, they didn't realize how serious it was. They thought I was a volatile teenager, and sometimes they simply downplayed the problem: “Oh, you're a teenager. That's normal. "I think my parents are now much more aware of how serious this problem is, knowing as much as me.

 

I never thought I had addictions

 

By the end of the last year at school, my condition had worsened and I was no longer in control - I was hurting myself. I took the medication for depression and did so to make myself feel better. I didn't consider that I had an addiction but now looking back, I can see that is what it was. I was just trying to "help" myself. There were periods when I smoked and drank alcohol. One day, I just felt like there was nothing important in my life. This perception was obviously too difficult for me and it ended with me being resuscitated. I had overdosed.

That event seemed to awaken me. I was soon released from the hospital but I didn't feel better. The consequences of an overdose were actually far more painful than I had ever thought before. The films show that you simply "drift" after taking the tablets, but in reality, it is a completely different state. I became aware that I never wanted to experience anything like that again. I also felt that I could not be locked up in a hospital, because being there would only make my condition worse. My parents gave me a choice and a week later, I went back to school as if nothing had happened. No one knew about that episode except the person I was friends with.

 

I was learning new skills

 

I decided to attend women-only group sessions in the hospital under the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Programme. Among those attending, I was the youngest. I visited a day centre and learned new skills: how to deal with everyday worries, change unwanted thoughts, emotions, behaviour, how to live appreciating every moment, no matter what, and so on. This programme helped me a lot. In fact, it was the best experience of my life.

Although I face many challenges every day, I never thought I would ever feel as good as I feel today. Now I am studying to be a nurse because I really want to help people who experience what I experienced. When I was in the hospital, all the nurses were very kind to me and it touched me a lot. I feel that I want to show that same care and can do it.

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