After traveling to the other side of the world Michael finally found the help he was looking for.
I am from Derbyshire, England. I am 25 years old.
My biggest passion would have to be music, although I am passionate about most things creative, as I find they inform my music in different ways. I have been playing guitar since the age of 8 and playing in bands since the age of 13.
I first became genuinely aware of my mental health at the age of 21/22, after finishing university. I had given up on music as I was burnt out from it, and that sparked what I later found out was essentially a year and a half long depressive episode, interspersed with suicidal idealisation. I can't remember a time I wasn’t anxious. I think that's pretty much been a constant in my life since I was born. I first sought help from a doctor at the age of 14/15 for panic attacks, as I'd been suffering from them since the age of 12, but I was definitely an anxious child before that. Although I feel that maybe I had chalked that up to just general worrying which made sense at the time.
I probably first spoke with my mother regarding my mental health when I was younger, I've always spoken to her about mental health and I can't really think of a time when I wouldn't have mentioned something to her. As for the bout that started in 2013, I think it was either a work colleague or a housemate. I'd kept my depression/suicidal idealisation under wraps usually but one evening when I had genuinely thought about doing it, I had work the next day, they asked what was up and I told them there and then. I had also confided in a housemate although this may have been at an earlier time when I was considering the idea, and I spoke to them about it a few days later.
Initially I had voiced my concerns about certain things to people, and they had all told me to go and speak to a professional, as they thought I would benefit from it. I’d consider this for a few days and then continue to carry out self-therapy, believing I could 'fix it on my own'. As at this point I pretty much had my panic attacks under control, I didn't see why I couldn't do the same with depression. I suppose finding further help came when I went to do a working holiday in Australia. Jet lag and questioning why I was going on the flight over culminated with me panicking about what my role in life was, and I suppose I had a complete loss of identity. I spent a few days in Australia, but after about 5 days of very little/no sleep, I was thinking of injuring myself to such a degree that I would have to be flown home, so that I would be unconscious or medicated the entire time back. A counsellor later told me that this and other thoughts I'd been having was suicidal idealisation, which suddenly put a lot of earlier thoughts into perspective. Realising having those thoughts at home with a support system is fine, but not when you're halfway across the world from anyone who can help. When I got back my mum helped me find a counsellor and I went from there.
Finding a way to talk to a therapist or counsellor, or someone who may have been through something similar is important to begin moving forward. I found that I was too proud to ask for help at times, as I was absolutely convinced I could find my way out. I had a moment where it became apparent that I needed to see someone before I did something I couldn't come back from, but some people don't have that moment. Talking about your mental health early on when you are struggling can be a step in the right direction to make sure you don't get to it. I have since seen the impression suicide leaves on the people who have to deal with it and it is horrible, it's like it takes a part of them away. I won't lie and say counselling was easy because initially it's not, I left so many sessions in a bad mood or frustrated or confused, and I have still suffered from a few depressive episodes since. In the long term however, my mental health has improved, and I feel better equipped to deal with any issues that would have caused me to relapse before.