March 30

This post is going to be very personal on a serious topic so it won’t be my usual venting, vulgar-language, type of post! So if you came for that, apologies, click off and come back when every other word is “fucking” again.

I have been away for a long time and in between a lot of my posts there are long gaps. I like to blame it on general life issues but that isn’t the truth. The truth is that I have been struggling with severe depression and anxiety, on and off, for many years. And it pains me to have to say it in this day and age, but no, it isn’t your typical teenage angst attention-seeking cry for “help”. The word depression gets thrown around in such a blase manner these days that sadly a lot of the gravity of it has been lost. It isn’t just when you feel sad. We all feel sad from time to time. It’s a natural and normal emotion. This is crying for no reason. In fact not only not just crying, but sobbing. It’s struggling to get out of bed. It’s where washing yourself takes so much effort that just doing it is an achievement.

It’s such a difficult thing to describe because I feel that in some way everyone experiences it differently. The way it feels to me is as if all the pleasure and happiness is sucked away from me. So, when I go and read a book, play a game, watch a film or see friends, instead of feeling that normal feeling of pleasure and happiness I feel nothing. And when I could feel something it was only utter sadness, hopelessness and despair. It’s like you’re reaching out for joy and you can never quite reach it. We all get sick sometimes, be it a cold, the flu, food poisoning, and we suffer. But we know it will pass. Well with this you don’t know when or even if it will ever pass. I feel like all the good emotions and feelings are taken away. And all I am left with are the worst ones and a voice so toxic in my head that it is driving me to kill myself.

If you can even imagine for a second having all happiness taken from you, and to have it go on for years and years despite all the good things you may have, you can perhaps see why you start to feel like giving up on living. Because why would you want to live a life where all you feel is misery. And then you feel guilt on top of that for feeling that way when you clearly should be happy. So you feel even worse. I also had and still have this voice in my head that all day tells me that I’m weak. I can’t cope. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m a failure. I’m a disappointment. Combine that with already feeling sad and it’s poison. Can you imagine if someone followed you everywhere telling you how terrible you were? Someone you could never get rid of and who never went away. How long do you think it would be before you gave up?

I would rather break my bones, suffer my HORRENDOUS period cramps, anything than this. Because with a positive mind, you can overcome any obstacle or unfortunate circumstance. With a negative mind, you can have everything and wish you were dead. Sometimes you hurt yourself because you can focus on that external pain, take your mind off the inside pain, distract yourself, and for once it’s a pain you can control. You just need control. I’ve done it.

I know why I suffer from this. I had a perfect mum. I had a abusive dad. I am lucky enough to have never suffered sexual abuse, but he was emotional and psychologically abusive to me, my mum and my brother and on the rare occasion, physically abusive. When dad wasn’t there things were amazing. Some of my best memories are spending the holidays with my mum and brother, as my dad worked. I don’t have all bad memories of my dad. Some are great but a lot are bad.

I don’t want to go into too many details here because there would be too much to say. But he would criticise the appearance of my mum, brother and I constantly. My hair was never right. He liked it done differently and if I did it the way he liked, he then liked it the other way. He would torment me. Tell me he had destroyed my favourite toy to watch me cry. My grades were never good enough. He never went to any event where I was participating. He called me awful names. He would scream and chase me as he knew it terrified me. He would control every aspect of our lives. He told me my opinion never mattered and that I was only a guest in his house. He did room inspections and it was pointless to bother tidying them really because there would always be a reason to punish us. He would smash my things, including my phone, and smirk and give it back to me in pieces. He’d humiliate us in front of other people, laughing at us and saying dreadful things to make himself look like the big man. He’d play mind games. He didn’t even know my age for a long time. He missed my 18th birthday meal celebration without even telling me he’d be late. He never complimented me or said well done for anything because in his eyes, I always fell short. And these are just the mild things I am comfortable sharing. These are just examples. There is more and there is worse.

I was happy when he was gone and when he was home I would stand up to him the best I could knowing full well the consequences would be nasty because for my own sake I needed to do what was right.

So what has this done to me? I have been trying to understand this for many years and I will share with you the best I can make of it. Depression and anxiety clearly. But to be more precise, I am a perfectionist. It’s either perfect or shit. And as nothing is perfect, I always feel like I’ve failed. And so I beat myself up and with other things I don’t even try. I have a fear of men who have an air of authority about them. I have an extreme fear of being criticised because that’s all I’ve ever had. I can’t bear making mistakes and when I do and someone else realises it, I am ashamed. And as I’m human, I make mistakes and so I feel ashamed a lot.

My approach to all this has been to push it down and keep going. Keep going. Keep going and hope it’ll be ok. And it’s not. I have no confidence, no self-esteem, such high expectations of myself but can’t bear anyone else having expectations on me in case I don’t reach them. In my eyes, I always fail. I am a failure. And I cannot cope in life. But I cannot ask for help to those around me because if I do they’ll see I’m not perfect and they’ll criticise me and I can’t handle that. And so I keep it inside and slowly drown. It’s no surprise that all this pervades into every aspect of my life and so it is no surprise that I am depressed.

But even if I understand why, I still feel this way because you can’t change in a minute a lifetime of beliefs, negative thoughts and experiences that have reinforced those beliefs.

Going back a way, to my previous job, it was all good. I was happy and I loved it. Then things changed and I disliked it. But what made things worse is that I was bullied. I had always been one of the best in my team at my job. Across the board I was achieving. Then they introduced a “peer coaching” system where I was having my one to one meetings with (obviously) my peer instead of my manager. My peer who did the same job I did. Who can’t help you in career progression. And who you don’t feel you can open up to about any concerns because it’s your peer! And they might tell other people. My peer coach didn’t like me. The moment I was given her as my coach, I suddenly began performing poorly at my job. She was pulling me up on all sorts of things and I was confused because I had changed NOTHING in the way I did my job. Even though they had changed things I had adapted and was performing brilliantly until the day she was my coach. Suddenly, everything was wrong. And, no doubt due to my previous baggage, I took it to heart and it devastated me. Here was another person putting me down unfairly. Perhaps it’s me after all?

I had always had a good relationship with my manager until then but all of a sudden this coach was trying to affect that relationship. A manager had told a fellow colleague something about the new changes who informed me about it. I then mentioned this in passing to my colleague 5 minutes before her peer coaching and next thing I know I’m being called over by my manager and accused of spreading false rumours to my whole team. I had mentioned it to ONE colleague who spoke to no one else before she went in and spoke to this coach so I told her that she could ask the whole team if I mentioned it to any of them because they’d say I hadn’t and the information had come from a manager. This was then proven and the manager was nice again to me but the fact that this coach was trying to tarnish my reputation made me feel even sadder. I noticed that this coach was also pulling me up on tiny things that everyone else was getting away with. I had to get out.

I found a new job and before handing my notice in noticed that my coaching feedback was being sent to me but also the other coach who I didn’t have was copied in and in this feedback I was suddenly amazing. Let me say that since she had been putting me through all this I still had changed nothing because I was doing exactly what was asked in the first place. So suddenly, I went from being shit to being amazing by changing nothing? Then I had my one to one with her and I was suddenly the best thing since sliced bread. Why? Well a few days later we then get asked to fill in a anonymous questionnaire to say what we thought of the coaching. Knowing everyone had to do it (it was through an external company who would confirm we had all participated while keeping it anonymous) I knew I could say what I wanted as they would never know it was me. So I did and left. It was my little fuck you. She should have treated me with respect from the off and it came back to bite her in the arse.

So here we come to the reason for this post. Getting fired for depression. I got a new job that seemed great on paper. Everyone seemed lovely. And at the beginning I was happy. But soon the cracks began showing. Employees would complain that the small company never gave anyone raises, even in line with inflation. They never promoted anyone. They resented the fact they would need to start providing everyone with a workplace pension.

In my department, we each had our own project and then there were the usual ad-hoc tasks aside that you all chip in and do. Well, my colleagues began passing all the ad-hoc tasks to me so that they only had their own projects to deal with and I had my own project and everything else. Then, my boss who I had really liked up until this point started trying to blame me for mistakes. We all make mistakes, me included, but mine were never massive and severe. Just your typical little error. My boss would love to loudly vocalise to the whole room a tiny innocuous mistake of mine she could have just corrected and moved on with. Not knowledge mistakes, but things like typos that we all do occasionally and can’t help. But when I would go through and finish her work sometimes I would find lots of mistakes too, some more severe than mine and lots of them. And on more than one occasion she would try and put the blame on me for them and I would have to try and prove that it wasn’t mine.

I just thought “again”? I am constantly being victimised and bullied by someone and I wanted it to stop. But it’s like I bring this on myself by the way I behave because of how I feel about myself. This combined with a resurgence of my depression which I’ve endured since my teens stopped me in my tracks. My attempts to keep going and keep going had got me so far but at this point the wheels fell off and I felt like my life blew up. I fell into the deepest depression I’ve ever gone through where I really wanted to die and was ready to do it. I felt like I was dead inside and trapped inside a moving husk forcing me through the motions and I couldn’t do it anymore. I went to the doctor who put me on antidepressants that first didn’t work and sent me to counselling which is now helping, before more recently putting me onto different antidepressants that are beginning to pick me up.

I was struggling to just survive and got signed off work because I just couldn’t function. And when it happened, I chose to be honest. I opened up to the boss above my boss, I told her how I was feeling, how it was affecting me and a bit about why. Some say it’s a bad idea but I couldn’t lie and make up another illness and try and explain it to someone as it would have been too hard. She was nothing but supportive. All her emails were telling me not to be ashamed of how I felt because I told her I had felt shame, to just take all the time I needed to get better, that they missed me and couldn’t wait until I was back. I was off for a few weeks. And just before I was due to go back I receive a letter in the post coldly stating that I was fired. I was in shock. All the emails had been understanding, supportive and kind. And worse, the letter seemed to be putting the blame on me, stating that I had refused their offers of help to come back earlier.

Other than the informal “let me know what I can do” there was never any offers of help such as a phased return to work or reduction in tasks to reintegrate which I have only read about recently as possibilities. Nothing. So it was a blatant lie. And it came totally out of left field. How could she be so supportive over email and out of the blue when I’m about to come back send me a letter so cold full of lies.

I was hurt. I felt rejected and I felt even more ashamed. After everything with my dad, my previous job, here I am! Depressed, wishing I was dead, being fired and rejected out of the blue after opening up personal things about my feelings and past to someone who isn’t even a friend. I felt like there really is something wrong with me. That I can’t cope in life. That everything I’ve been through has fucked me up beyond all help. And I felt like I had let down everyone who loves me. I had failed them all because I had amounted to nothing after all.

I do understand it is a business but I was off just a few weeks about to come back. When I emailed this lady she said that the department couldn’t run as 2 people anymore….. I was one week away from coming back. They wouldn’t find someone new and train them to my standard in a week.

So why do I think I was fired due to having depression particularly? ¬†Well the bosses son had to have an operation and was signed off about the same length of time and there wasn’t an issue for him. A colleague had miscarried and was off around the same amount of time also and that was ok. But for me, and I was performing well in my role, it wasn’t. If we look at it, it isn’t fair. And I really feel that there truly is a stigma around depression and that they let me go for this very reason. If I had been signed off for a routine surgery that required recovery time, would I be fired right now? I begin to doubt I would.

But due to my past I took it all on me. I forget that I got a 2:1 degree while suffering with a previous serious bout of depression where I wanted to never wake up. I have been working full time and then going to school on a Saturday to work towards a diploma allowing me to pursue the career of my dreams at which I’m excelling, all while suffering with depression. These things get overlooked by feeling of shame, of being a failure and a disappointment and being useless. Feeling that I should give up on life because I’m getting older and achieving nothing but failing at all I do.

And then came the anger. My dad and I have a good relationship now and due to the loss of my job, everything has come out into the open and to my surprise for the first time in my life he was understanding and supportive to the point where I do not have to worry about the financial implications of this job loss and I have the time to focus on getting better. And this is great.He has acknowledged his role in how I feel right now.

Therapy has however brought up repressed emotions and I feel this anger at my dad for all he did and I don’t know what to do with it as I feel that it would be unfair to thrust it on him now when he is trying to make things right. I guess it is just something to work through.

Am I cured? Far from it. I am a work in progress. I take my medication and I go therapy and talk through everything which can be very insightful. I exercise as it is supposed to help. I do my school work and I go to a buddhist meeting every week with my mum where we learn the teachings and how to meditate. We are both buddhists (or working on it!) and this is helpful. To put it plainly, I am trying and doing everything I can to get better while excelling at school. So, even though it may take time, it appears I may not be such a failure after all.

I’m just focusing each day as it comes. It’s going to take time to heal and I still feel shitty and I know I won’t change overnight but I’m trying. It is just sad to see that there is still a stigma towards mental illness out there and rejecting someone due to this can be very damaging on its own without taking into account any trauma a person is already struggling with. As hard as it is to admit all this, I want to get my story out that so people can see that this is still happening and hopefully with awareness on how serious depression really is, we can start to turn this around. Please share my story, or your own if you are comfortable, as change can only begin with each of us.

Mental illness is serious and we need people to take it seriously.

If anyone reading this feels low, depressed, is struggling with anything from day to day problems to serious trauma, please look to get help. Go to your GP, get referred to counselling if you think it will help. There are plenty of forums to talk to others who are going through similar struggles and talking can really make a difference.

And if you are from the UK, please consider checking out these websites if it feels too much:

Lots of love everyone