Sunday, 17 July 2016

LAURA: I DIDN'T THINK I HAD A FUTURE

Reader Laura shares her journey through depression and tells how she found a way through the darkness and found her dreams again...

Laura says:
Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be an artist. I practised for hours each day - art was an escape for me. I was bullied at primary school for being a little bigger than some of the other girls, and my self-esteem was low. At secondary school, I was still picked on, but I carried on with my art - it gave me a drive to be better, to dream more. I could be anything. When I was twelve, my grandfather had a heart attack in front of me and died that same day. I was OK for a while, but once it began to sink in I became reclusive and less driven. My grades began to slip. I told my mum how unhappy I was and she took me to the doctor who diagnosed PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. It's when something sticks in your memory and causes ongoing distress. I was referred to the children's mental health service, CAMHS, and had three years of therapy which really, really helped.

I lost my love for art somewhere along the way - when I was at my lowest, I felt nothing. That lasted for a long time. I'd once dreamed of working for Disney, of travelling the world, but depression made me blind to those dreams. After a while, things got better. I got a dog, and he made me get up and go out to see the world. I sometimes moan about taking him for a walk, but I love him so - and my family helped me more than I can say. I did my GCSEs at home, thanks to a hospital education programme, and then made the biggest leap - college. It scared me, just as secondary school once had, but I felt confident enough to try. I was drawing again and sharing my art with people, and slowly I began to make friends.

In my depression, I never thought I could go to college or university. I didn't think I had a future. Art college is brilliant - everyone is free to do what they want with their work! We fill up big sketch books with idea, notes and drawings and do workshops to learn different things. I learned old fashioned photography, where you dip the photograph in trays of chemicals in a darkroom, and also light photography where you can draw with light. I did sculpture, printmaking and animation. I discovered that I still want to do all the things I once dreamed of. I know I will go to university now to study film. I know I will create beautiful stories - I'm writing my own fantasy novel. I've had help, and I am so fortunate in that, as not everyone does. The hospital still supports me; I am grateful to them and so glad I found the courage to tell my mum the truth at the beginning.

Everything that has happened has shaped me, and without it I'd be completely different. I don't know if I will ever be completely happy with myself... but I have all the time in the world to try.

Cathy says:
Wow... I'm stunned at the honesty and bravery of this piece, and so glad that Laura is working to make her dreams happen. Have YOU ever struggled with depression or mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...

2 comments:

  1. She is amazing and so inspirational. I have struggled ,and still do with depression and mental health too and I have CAMHS and the home education programme like this girl too, I didn't know anyone else who had that! I'm so fortunate for the help too anD I agree everything that has happened has shaped me so I wouldn't change it even if it's really bad! I hope I can go ton o college and get through it like she has. her art is amazing too :)

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  2. I have a schizotypal personality trait which manifests itself as depression and anxiety which feed off each other, like a circle. It's quite hard to break out of, but the key is acceptance and finding a coping strategy that works for you.

    Laura is right when she says that she has all the time in the world to try to be happy with herself. Just like with any other illness, time is the best healer for depression. The future may feel so very far away when you are depressed, but you have to learn to be patient, to accept yourself, and to ask for help when you need it.

    I was diagnosed three years ago, and it's taken me up until now to accept that I'm not going to be the exact same person I was before I was diagnosed. Writing was my coping strategy and my vent, and reading back over what I had previously written was how I was able to negotiate the change and start to accept who I now was.

    Just because you have an illness which shapes your life, it does not mean it is the end of your world.

    Gem x

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