Friday, 10 April 2015

I am More Than My Mental Illness

Four years ago this week, I went to my college doctor. I must have spent 45mins with her. It felt like forever.

After their assessment I was immediately brought to a counsellor. They told me I had depression, talked to me about my illness and booked me in for an appointment with the psychiatrist. The doctors' wrote me a prescription.

In those two hours spent in UCD's Health Centre my life changed.

Four years on from my diagnosis, it's strange to look back at the exhausted, quivering shell of a person that I was on that day. I was lost and hopeless. I was terrified of what was going on inside my own head. I spent most of my hour with the counsellor in tears, unable to get any words out.

I was recorded as being a suicide risk. But not imminently. 

But I went home that evening with my head feeling clear and calm for the first time that I could remember. I text my mum and told her about my diagnosis. I took my tablets and fell asleep almost immediately.

I was given a label that day - 'Depressed', 'Mentally Ill', 'Suicidal'.
To me, this label isn't and never was a negative thing. 

It's a label that ever since then, I have fully embraced and accepted. But my depression doesn't define me. It is just one label to me; one of many, many labels that make up the person I am. 

When my depression is bad, it consumes other labels and is the only thing I can see or feel. The other labels aren't replaced, they are just taken over and hidden by my illness.

But I am so much more than my mental illness.

Like everyone else with a mental illness, I am a person first and foremost. I live with my depression every day. And it's not always easy. But my depression is just one of many, many labels you can put on me.

And I won't be defined by just one.  

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