The first time I remember feeling depressed was in grade 10. As a child, I struggled with low self-esteem and didn’t have many friends, but grade 10 really stands out to me. I remember coming home every day, dreading to do homework. When I tried, I always ended up watching TV series on DVD with my mom. I remember not wanting to go to school. I eventually got to the point where I believed the whole world was better without me. My best friend moved away a few years before and I was being teased and left out at school. I really struggled academically and didn’t have much in common with my peers. My parents were also having a very hard time. I was convinced everything was my fault.
One night I went down into my kitchen, poured some painkillers into my hand, and had a bottle of water in the other. I stood there and sobbed quietly, trying not to wake my parents. That was as far as I got—I poured the pills back into the bottle. I was too afraid to do it – not because I was afraid of dying – I was afraid it would not work. I was afraid I would end up in the mental ward alone, and be the laugh of the town. I lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone and everything – I couldn’t take that chance. My plan changed to getting out as soon as I could.
Despite my best efforts my grades were still very mediocre at the end of the year. I pleaded more with my parents, asking them to move. I couldn’t stay there any longer.
Over the next few years my life changed drastically. I ended up getting my wish to move – but not for good reasons– to then have to move back to my hometown. Despite all the tragedy, my last two years of high school were the best ones. I still struggled with stress and depression. This caused my immune system to shut down from time to time, which just made me feel worthless. However, I got better at managing it – for a while anyway. I started to gain more confidence – but as a result turned into a perfectionist.
After graduation, I decided to leave the island I grew up on and move to New Brunswick. I figured a fresh start at St Thomas, was exactly what I needed. I thought this would help me leave my past behind. I made amazing new friends, got involved with my house team, and had a great accessibility team to support my learning differences, but I was still struggling mentally and academically.
Later in the semester things escalated and a few friends started to notice. I was staying up all night studying, and not sleeping and barely eating. I felt more hopeless, and thoughts of suicide were getting stronger. They encouraged me to seek help but I was too afraid. I thought if I did – I would loose everyone and everything I had built. I thought it was unfair that I couldn’t just be like ‘everyone else’. Towards the end of the semester, I gave in and contacted counseling services. I didn’t understand why I was struggling, but I was tired of hating myself so much. At the last minute, I got scared and cancelled my appointment. I was still too afraid to and decided I could change all on my own. I just had to hide it better.
At the end of the term, my world started to crash around me yet again. When I went back to Newfoundland for Christmas I ended up staying there. My dad had left my mom. Being the only child I felt like I needed to be there for my mom. Not only that, but I thought it was a great excuse to leave university because I had failed 2 of my 4 classes – I was too ashamed to go back.
My 8 months back in Newfoundland were long and hard. After a few months, I decided to go back to university but MUN this time so I could be near family. This was definitely not for me, and I quickly decided to go back to STU. My mom was very supportive, but she wanted me to seek counseling to deal with my stress. So, I re-contacted the counselor I had previously spoken to and they had suggested I set up an appointment for when I got back.
Upon returning, I decided I had to be perfect. I failed courses the last time –this time I needed to be perfect – that was all that mattered. However, when I felt like I was loosing control in my academics – I cleaned until I felt my surroundings were ‘perfect’. I decided to get more involved and volunteer but my perfectionism eventually took over. Just getting out of bed was a challenge. I would flip flop between being so anxious to then being very depressed. The fear of failing haunted me. I was getting 2 and 3 hours of sleep a night because I would either be cleaning or doing homework.
Later that year I decided to transfer to UNB, which was a big decision for me. I had a whole family at STU, despite the challenges I faced I did have people I could always count on, despite my constant fear of loosing them. I finally had a place I called home, and I wasn’t ready to give that up. However, for the benefit of my academics I knew I had to do it – so I made the leap.
My first year at UNB was rocky, but not as bad as I anticipated. I started making great friends. I moved into Lady Dunn residence where I had great proctors, and I got involved with extra curricular activities along with volunteering again. Despite my lows, I was slowly starting to see a way up.
This year, I took on the role of president for the psychology society, and I continue to volunteer. This campaign has really helped me come to terms with my struggles and to share my experience. Knowing I could potentially help someone else because of my journey has really made an impact on the way I see things in life. Of course I still have my days—but each day, I can see a little more light at the end of the tunnel.