In 2011, I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety. Today, I live to tell my stories of struggling through what felt like the impossible, but more importantly, the amazing things I have achieved to get me to where I am today.
My name is Olivia, I'm following my dreams and I am currently in my second year of studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I have volunteered with KidsLine for 3 years and I have successfully fought my own battle with mental illness.
My self-belief at the time was that people would be better off without me, they wouldn’t stress so much. I had attempted suicide a few times and these attempts resulted in multiple admissions to the mental health ward. My self-esteem at this point in time was very low.
You see, I have two brothers, both with special needs. They required a lot of attention from my parents and over time, I began to feel as though my needs were never met and if I asked for it, I felt as though I was a burden on my family.
My low self-esteem accompanied with my thoughts of suicide made me believe that the world would be better off without me in it. This put pressure on my relationship with my family and added to the growing strain and stress I was being steamrolled by.
I ended up moving out of home at 15 years of age and I moved in with a lovely couple from my church. I called them my "new parents".
My new parents were able to give me their time and support. They listened to me and they made me feel appreciated and acknowledged me as an individual. I felt loved and cared for. I felt like I actually mattered.
This became the change I needed to get me to where I am today.
I began a therapy course call Dialectic Behavioural Therapy, or DBT for short. My self-esteem began to build again. The therapy and new support was beginning to work. My hopes and dreams for the future were once again realistic. I felt more hopeful for the future.
I would focus on the positive things during my struggles, and though it was hard, I knew that what I was experiencing would eventually have a positive impact on me. Through my experience I became more empathetic, more understanding and a better listener. I knew my friendships would build as I knew I would be there for my friends. They could talk to me whenever they needed someone to listen to. Because of my experiences, I knew I could relate to them and it would help us to build a stronger bond. This was something very positive for me as it meant people needed me and that I had a purpose.
I trusted my psychologist and believed her when she said that the depression wouldn't last. She said that she would be able to help me and teach me skills to cope. Remembering this would always empower me. "This won't last!"
Once I had acknowledged how I was feeling and opened up, I found that the constant overwhelming feeling of keeping everything to myself began to get easier. The acknowledgement of how I felt and talking to someone I trusted, is how my recovery began.
I talked a lot to my skilled psychologist and found that she genuinely cared and was passionate about helping me with my recovery.
The unbelievable support that I was getting helped make me feel as though people actually "got" me.
With DBT, I went through individual, group and family therapy. My new parents would attend my family sessions with me. They would support me and apply the skills they too had learned in DBT, into their everyday lives. This helped me to not feel so alone. This helped to motivate me to play my part in my recovery. The DBT skills helped me to focus my mind and energy whenever I began to struggle.
I had new hopes and skills to help me through one of the toughest times in my life.
I can recall the moments when I finally saw the light of recovery. With the high success rate of DBT and the amazing support I was getting, I felt hope. Hope that if other people could do it, then so could I. I suddenly started to believe in myself and put all of myself into recovering. I felt relieved. I finally wouldn't be defined by my depression or my anxiety. I could start to become an individual known for me as a person, not just a diagnosis.
I lived with my new parents for 2 years before moving back home. In this time, I grew as a person and developed coping skills.
My relationship with my parents has been repaired and we are now closer and stronger than ever.
I have also been completely discharged from DBT. I am free of my mental illness.
If I could give myself advice for during the times of my struggles, I would tell myself:
At times I still get low, but I now have the skills and knowledge I need to get through anything. I know life is always full of ups and downs, but the downs will never again beat me. This I know and strongly believe.
I can move on from my past and reach out for help when I need it. I am now able to express how I feel in a healthy and clear way.
The main lessons I learnt through my experience is that “there is hope”, and you should always “surround yourself with positive things”.
Story by Dayna B.