To My Family and Friends: Thank You
So many sufferers expect people to think they're monsters when they open up about their disorder. In reality, most loved ones will be accepting and help you get the treatment you need.
- Georgina was extremely afraid that telling family and friends about her intrusive thoughts would cause them to disown her. However, once she did, the opposite happened.
- Georgina reminds others to: 1) Never feel ashamed to speak out about your mental health. 2) Try and educate others if you can – the more people who understand, the better. 3) Be truthful to loved ones – holding back secrets can only hinder you more.
The first time I found myself in the deep, dark, hole that is depression, I was so embarrassed and confused that it took me a good 6 months to acknowledge that something wasn’t right. Even then, it wasn’t me who diagnosed the depression, it was a counsellor.
I started having weekly sessions with her as I had become increasingly anxious and stressed due to a family incident. We delved into my past and looked at all of the possible reasons for why I had gotten myself to this point. Once we pinpointed my struggle to a particular event, I crumbled. I’d hidden and buried it so well that even I forgot it was there.
It was around 3 weeks after this particular visit that my intrusive thoughts began. They were awful, vile and so alien to me that I was convinced I was an absolutely terrible person. These thoughts plagued my every waking moment for months and months, causing cracks to form in every aspect of my life. I felt suicidal, I couldn’t see how I could ever live a normal life with these horrific thoughts pulsing through my mind day in and day out.
I couldn’t talk to my friends about the thoughts, I knew they wouldn’t understand and they’d think I needed to be locked up. But I needed to talk to someone other than my counsellor, I needed to be comforted by the people I loved the most – so I told my parents and my incredible boyfriend about my thoughts while having a panic attack, and to my utter bewilderment, they didn’t throw me out into the street for being a disgusting excuse of a human being. The relief that swamped me once I had sputtered out my worst nightmares to them was incredible. It didn’t stop the thoughts but it certainly dulled them. I realized that the more my parents and boyfriend understood how I was feeling, the more they could help me.
My friends started to notice that I wasn’t my usual self, and so while I didn’t feel comfortable telling them all of my secrets, I decided that I needed to confide in a few of them. I told them that I was feeling depressed, that I was on medication and that I was regularly visiting a counsellor. I was petrified of what their reactions might be, but each and every one of them told me they thought I was brave and strong, and praised me for getting help. Their kindness and patience towards me during the months after was utterly heartwarming. Without the love and support from my family and friends I don’t think I would have gotten better.