“Oh no! That’s like a war going on in your head!”
“I had no idea you were struggling so much! You’re always so happy!”
September 2015 – a very happy and exciting month for me. Summer was coming to an end, I was starting my LLM in International Criminal Law and Security at Northampton, and I was ready to start a new chapter in my life. I remember when I started the course, met the course leaders, and had access to my NILE site – I was so keen to just get stuck in! All my modules were up, I began reading and creating a plan for the assignments, and for the first term. Lectures started, I met my new classmates, and immersed myself back into university life. The first term flew by, and I was so happy and content with everything in my life.
Over Christmas, there was a sudden change. My mindset changed… bad memories were playing in my head on repeat. I suddenly felt a change in my mood, felt irritable, frustrated and my sleeping pattern changed. My dad noticed that I had suddenly changed. On the day I was to start back at university, I broke down at home. I suddenly burst into tears. I felt tired, irate and didn’t feel like going to back to university. The bad memories in my head had continued to dominate in my head, and I could not seem to clear them.
My parents stood by me, and consoled me. After some words of encouragement, they helped me pack the car and took me back to my flat in Northampton. Once we arrived, they stayed for a quick coffee, helped me unpack and left. A silence hung over me. Loneliness grabbed me. Searching for a distraction, I played my X-Box for a few hours. I settled back in my flat, and prepped for the upcoming weeks.
When the second term was in full swing, I threw myself into university life. I set up the Uni Food Bank Team, Auto-Circle Spectrum was doing well, I was getting good grades and getting on with life. The storms in my head worsened, and I began a harsh mental journey dealing with a downward spiral of anger, upset and a chaotic mindset.
For months, I worked multiple jobs to support myself financially whilst studying. All my jobs were brilliant – I had supportive colleagues who helped me and listened when I struggled. My sleep was completely thrown off, and I was running on 3 hours sleep whilst working 3 jobs and doing a part time masters. In February, I left one job, and increased the hours for another, so that I was still able to pay rent, bills and buy food. My university workload increased, and I would spend hours doing research and working on my assignments. Sometimes, I would sit in the library and cry whilst working, as I could not cope with the storms in my head.
For months and months, I went to bed having anxiety attacks. Struggling to breathe and dealing with the chaos in my head and the bad memories that came alive. Most mornings, I would wake up having anxiety attacks still. My body was a weight and I struggled with getting up in the morning, even when I had 9am starts. At times, I would try and lift up a leg – but even that was very challenging. My body felt like a weight, and I could not move.
My eyes constantly burned from the sleep deprivation and fatigue, and had developed a red tinge from being frequently tearful. My flat became a prison. 4 blank walls, and a window, where I would look out and wonder how I used to be so happy and content at one point in my life. I’d forgotten what it was like to be happy. I thought I’d never smile again. When the darkness came over me, I was numb.
One evening, I sat in my room looking into the night, suddenly aware of my existence. I thought to myself ‘There are 7 billion people on this planet, and here I am, alone. Unloved. No-one cares about me. I am worthless’. Similar thoughts dominated my mindset. I felt guilty, worthless, lonely, and that no-one cared for me anymore.
‘I don’t matter. Nothing I have done matters. The work I do helping students does not matter. Me being at university does not matter. Everything I have done in life does not matter. I am worthless’
The months flew by, and May came quickly. One evening, after getting home from work, I planned on going home to see my family. It was a surprise trip home, and I craved being with my family. Whilst I was in my room, my eyes flashed, and I began having visions.
I saw a rope pulling upwards, followed by a harsh snap. The images flashed, and I saw a pair of legs dangling, and a lifeless body hanging. Another flash, and I saw a coffin being lowered into the ground. One final flash, and around the coffin were members of Auto-Circle Spectrum Society. There were looks of shock, despair, disbelief and sadness in their faces. Some were crying, and others looked at the coffin, utterly dumbfound and devastated.
I blinked harshly, back in the real world – I was back in my room; completely broken by what I saw. I got the train back home, and after a long drive with my mum, opened up to her about having thoughts of suicide. She held my hand tightly, and encouraged me to get help.
Till this day, I still believe that was God showing me what the impact my suicide would have had on so many people. When I was running Auto-Circle Spectrum, I had members who suffered with mental health issues, and were suicidal. I was there and helped them overcome it. Then I was in that position, and I had nobody.
Fast forward 2 weeks – I was at the doctors. I had a list of everything that had happened, from the lack of sleep, the storms in my head, the panic attacks, the overwhelming sense of loneliness, worthlessness and guilt, and so much more. The doctor sat patiently with me, and went through an NHS test. I scored 27 out of 30 – severe depression, and was prescribed sertraline to help.
The medication made me terribly unwell, and I collapsed in my room after taking it. I woke the day after feeling completely refreshed. My head was empty, I had no emotion, and felt as light as a feather. The mental pain caused by depression was crushing – and, now that the medication had kicked in (very quickly) I realized just how much mental pain I was in from it! My work colleagues and friends helped me when I opened up to them – I had counselling support, began doing workouts in my room to boost my mental and physical health, and indulged in art therapy.
Jumping forward to April 2017 – I had cut my contract short at my flat and moved back home with my family. By this point, I was still doing my dissertation, of which I continued from home as a distance learner. I was granted extra time to work on my dissertation whilst I was still recovering. After a couple of months of being at home – I was laughing again. My family made me laugh, made sure I had a bed, and ensured that I had everything I needed whilst I was still finishing my studies.
By October, I had submitted my dissertation, and had started a new job at home. In December, I was offered a second job as a Co-op Member Pioneer – a job I am still in and love very very much, and started the role in January 2018. (See my previous post: As a Member Pioneer supporting the Police — Shared from: Thoughts from the criminology team)
February 10th – my graduation. After 2 years of battling severe depression whilst doing my masters, the big day had finally arrived! I could not have been happier!
To all my friends/family who fight depression on a daily basis – you are all HARDCORE!!!
Much love to you all ❤