My journey with depression – Mental Health Awareness Week

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Nursing student Victoria Cox reflects on her journey with depression to mark #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Some of you may have read my first blog, bearing all my struggles with you. As it is Mental Health Awareness Week I’ve decided to reflect and see how far I’ve come (or not!).

I found taking anti-depressants hard. I couldn’t accept that I needed them to function, and couldn’t convince myself that this is no different to someone needing insulin or anti biotic.

I had a few phases where I stopped taking them and within a couple of days I would be crying again. I had a very bad spell where I stopped for three weeks, I felt angry mostly, and felt the need to punish myself – which unfortunately I did. I went to work and cried, the panic attacks came back. I’d go home and sit in the bathroom and… you know the rest.

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After so long I became exhausted being in this constant state of distress. I realised I couldn’t go on like this, so I started back on the tablets, the highest dose I could have. I took them, I stayed on them and I continued university feeling a whole lot better.

One day I realised I had only three doses left, and was staying in Birmingham for a few days and didn’t have time to get more tablets. So I ran out, and didn’t get anymore. Surprisingly the days went by and I realised that I wasn’t crying, I didn’t hate myself, and I was still coping with everything.

In the New Year my Nan had a fall, and this meant both my grandparents needed more support. I began looking after them every chance I got, taking the weight off my Gramp. I’d lie on the bed with Nan, holding hands as we dozed, she was in pain and cried every time she moved.

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It was heart-breaking. She went into hospital and though we tried so hard to keep her, we watched her fade away. During this time, I had an exam. The stress of, and time spent looking after my grandparents, took its toll, and as I went into university for the exam, a lecturer looked at me and told me I couldn’t sit the exam.

He encouraged me to make the right decision to defer. The university was understanding, as was my doctor who wrote a letter for my evidence to defer, it was the right thing to do and now I feel relieved that when my chance to sit it comes, I will be in the right head space to do it.

I also had placement which I struggled with mostly because I couldn’t connect with my mentor. As intelligent as she was, I always felt like a failure next to her no matter how hard I tried. I put A LOT of pressure on myself to pass this placement, and I eventually made it past the finishing line.

I normally wouldn’t have made it through all this without either medication or having a breakdown. But I did it all, I have struggled a bit, grieved a lot, but no more than any other “well” person would have.

So it has been a few weeks since I’ve been meds free, and I’m proud of how well I’m doing.

I won’t hold my breath and say I am fully well, that this is my happy ever after as there are still some issues to iron out.

I may go back onto half of my previous dose, to help me through an intense period of university coming up, but I’m so glad I’m no longer being held back by my demons.

At BCU we offer advice and support whether you are thinking about applying to university, are in the process of applying or currently studying here. Please visit our web page for more details.

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