My experience with mental health

Tara had depression and anxiety in school

Written by Tara O'Sullivan


I can safely say I am no stranger to the topic of mental health. Mental health issues are a very big problem within Ireland. Unfortunately, mental health is not talked about enough. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems in this country. An article recently published from stated that Ireland's teen suicide rate is the fourth highest in the EU. It is clear that our society need to do something and we need to do something quickly before another young person turns to suicide.

As with my own struggles with mental health, I suffer from both anxiety and depression. Having one of these problems is bad enough but having the two combined is an everyday struggle. I have had anxiety since the beginning of third year in secondary school. The school had given us an option to do TY or go straight on to Fifth Year. Personally, I have always felt that TY is a waste of time and money. However, I was pressured by the school to pursue the option of TY and with the added stress of the Junior Cert on my mind, I became very anxious and I changed as a result.

My anxiety grew stronger everyday. It was the beginning of January, I started having stomach problems (butterflies), became increasingly anxious and overwhelmed. I did not want to attend class and so my grades suffered. I have since found ways to cope with my anxiety such as doing nightly meditation, learning several breathing techniques and not putting myself into rather overwhelming situations. I also wear black travel sickness bands on my wrists and regularly use rescue pastilles.

I had slowly managed to recover from one problem when another even bigger problem emerged. As someone who suffers from anxiety, placing me into a classroom with nobody I knew in sight was, as you can imagine, terrifying. The main problem was the class were a very close knit group, like family. They are still very close. I immediately knew I would always be seen as an outsider. I would never fit in. Believe me I have tried countless times to get to know other girls (I attend an all girls' catholic secondary school) but with no success.

The first month of Fifth Year was the worst month I have ever experienced. My friends and I broke up and as a result I became self-conscious and very lonely. I felt like I was unlikeable, invisible and people saw me as a loner. Eventually I grew into a deep depression. I stopped paying attention in classes, I didn't talk to anybody, I was simply mute. My grades dropped rapidly. I barely completed my homework and I never, ever studied. Everyday at lunch, I would walk briskly into one of the bathroom stalls and just cry. I would not come out until I was sure everyone had left the bathroom.

Everyday was an ongoing struggle, a very tiring struggle. I was absent many days. When the summer holidays arrived, I slept during the day, everyday. I cried myself to sleep,I sat on my double bed listening to sad music and cried and cried. I would imagine someone holding me telling me it would all be ok but that thought didn't last very long. I had some suicidal thoughts, I spoke to my mam about it and immediately went to my doctor. I was prescribed antidepressants and was told to eat healthily and to exercise.

I have had depression for two long years now. It is still challenging but I am doing better in school. I am more talkative, I am attending counselling weekly and I feel much more like myself again. I would ask anyone with a mental health issue to ask for help if you need it, to be yourself, to build up your self confidence and I can't stress this enough, please take care of your mental health. It is imperative that you learn about your mental illness, you explore it and you learn tactics to cope with it and remember if you are having a bad day and you feel like giving up,"You can do this,I believe in you". You are not alone.

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