A student’s account of depression

I’m sick of waking up every morning and just being unbelievably tired, I never get to not feel tired, especially now. And it’s so frustrating because when I’m not tired, or when I’m working well then I’m actually pretty good, but when I’m not I’m just awful, and I can’t work and it’s horrible. I literally have very briefly seen how good I can be, and that’s always in my head somewhere being chased around and held down by being suicidal and being always tired and self-hatred and guilt and regret. I don’t know how to get it out, or bring it to the forefront or anything. I think suicide is different now, it’s not actively wanting to die, it’s wanting to not exist, because existence is 90% tiredness and guilt and regret and hate, and trying and failing to cover all of that up. 
I tried to meditate this morning and for a couple of minutes actually felt alright, it was like I had picked up and wrenched my life around out of this horrible black river of depression, and slowly scraped all of what I wanted out of that river, and piled it up into an island, and that island is what I clung to before, and it was a horrible island, it was self-harm and video game addictions and drinking and promiscuity, but it wasn’t death, which I think is what the river is, or at least it wasn’t suicide, for as long as you were on the island. And eventually you’d get sucked back into the river; because the island would get washed away, and you’d have to gather it all back up again, with more of the same. And medication helps, I think that in this played out river- metaphor, the medication doesn’t teach you to swim, it just gives you something to hold onto to stay afloat whilst you teach yourself.
Anyway, in this meditative state I was in, I’d made a fire on that island, and that fire was everything that I’d ever hated about me, and me paying for having been who I’d been, and it was awesome. I don’t really know how to describe a somewhat spiritual thing, and I know this is tangential, but it’s like writing down one of your dreams, so excuse the self-indulgence for a second. I’d made this fire, and on the fire I’d put everything, I’d put all the stuff that I’d done to stay here, it was weird, it was like putting events on the fire but they were like pictures of the events, so I put pictures of me cutting myself, and me crying, and pictures of me isolating myself from my family, so many pictures of all of that, and they were all things I did to survive. And then this fire was growing, and it wasn’t really a fire, it was me, and it was the person that I wanted to be, and it was taking all the bad stuff that I’d done to get to where I am, and burning it, not in a sense of burning it away, just in a sense of it was what was fuelling the fire, it was still there on the fire. And my dissertation was on there, and all the times that I’ve beaten myself up when I’ve been an idiot in social situations were on there, and the fire was quite big now. 
Slowly out of the fire, and this is quite weird, all the people that I care about and want to protect came out of this fire, and they were standing round the fire, on this island in the middle of a river of black suicidal thoughts and death, and I was the fire, I was making myself better by having been through all the stuff that I’ve been through, and they were slightly warming themselves by the fire, like I’d made this fire so that they could be warm, and so that I could be warm too. But it was a really surreal feeling, because there were hundreds of people, and they were all sort of standing around this fire, with the people who I’m closest to standing nearest and then everyone else taking a slight back step, and they were shifting, and in the front row of this circle were my family and my friends from home and university people, although I’m not sure how much to read into that. But everyone was standing around this fire which I’d made, and I think in this dream/whatever, I was supposed to think that the benefits of me getting better and giving myself wholly to this fire, was that it didn’t just warm me, it could warm other people, and then once I thought that, everyone sort of lit up, not like a light bulb, but as in, if you imagine people standing in front of a fire they were lit in this flickering light, and it made no sense because obviously the people in the front would cast shadows but there were no shadows. 
And then everyone really gradually started smiling, not sympathetic smiles, just like a compilation of all the smiles that I’d ever made them smile, and it was only really small, like a little twitch in the corner of their lip, but it was there. And it made me want to carry on, and it made me think that I wanted to carry on with that fire, despite how awful it has been, and how awful it still is, because it’s not just warming me, it’s warming other people too, or at least preventing them from heading into the river. And that was the other thing too, it made me think that in my life if I could ever stop people from going into that river, then I should, and I will, that’s what I want to do with my life. And at the end of it all, I was crying, in real life, because I hate it like 99.99% of the time, I hate having to make a fire, and not just jumping into the river and giving it all up, but then sometimes it is worth it, having a fire, not just for your sakes, but for other people.
And I think in some sense, and this whole thing sounds massively martyr-y, and I hope you don’t judge me for that, it’s genuinely not like that, I think it’s something that I’d thought before, I’ve probably mentioned it before, that if you can’t find a reason to live for yourself then you should find it in others. I thought that first when I tried to kill myself, but couldn’t because I thought I heard mum coming home. That was when I was first like “if it weren’t for other people I would almost certainly be dead right now”. And that’s okay, I think.

But yeah, I’m actually semi-smiling right now, because I think in thinking of that fire thing a couple of hours ago, that’s what I’ll think about now, when I feel myself heading down that path, because, and this is huge, and that’s why I’m smiling, I felt myself coming down this breakdown path when I started writing this, but now, I’m actually okay, that is the first and only time that I’ve ever managed to avoid a breakdown, and it’s just because I typed out this fire thing. So even if you don’t read it, then it’s served a huge purpose for me, and really great. So thank you for reading this.


This account was written by a student who wanted others to know that they are not alone, and that they too can get help from Students’ Health and the Counselling Service. Just give us a call or pop by if you are feeling down and would like help.