My Story: Kelly Cameron

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with depression in 2000, but in my opinion I have always suffered with depression, from the age of 14.

I was self-harming, not getting washed or dressed for days on end and being very moody and weepy. Things got so bad for me that I stood on the wrong side of a barrier on a bridge over a motorway, contemplating jumping.

The police where called and a police negotiator managed to talk me down. The police then took me straight to a psychiatric hospital, and I stayed there for eight weeks. It was in there that I was diagnosed with depression.

Who has been there for you? How?

My family (mum, dad, and brother) has always been there for me, but at the beginning I don't think they were aware of how bad I was.

My partner has been amazing. I have never had much self-confidence, but he always makes me feel good about myself.

My family has been brilliant; I can talk to any of them about how I am feeling, and if I am having a bad day they understand, support and listen to me. And they don’t pressure me to do something I don’t want to do, i.e. going out. I seriously would not be here with out them.

My Story: Kelly Cameron

What accomplishment are you proud of?

My Story: Kelly CameronMy proudest moment was when I graduated from university last year with a degree in health and social care. I have never been good academically, I did not get many GCSEs [General Certificates of Secondary Education], and while at college before going to university, my tutor (who knew about my mental health) said in front of the class that I did “not have what it takes to get through uni".

This really upset me and knocked my self-confidence, but my family and partner supported me and said to me, “Prove her wrong.” This spurred me on. I did three years at uni and got a degree. It wasn't easy, and I did have days off because I felt like I couldn't do it and I wanted to quit, but I kept thinking about what that tutor said. I wanted to prove her wrong and make my family and partner proud of me.

My family and partner supported and encouraged me every step of the way and I am glad that I never quit.

I am now studying mental health nursing.

I know it's scary — no one likes to admit they need help or ask for help, but it's ok.

Sometimes it's hard to tell from the outside the hard times someone is experiencing on the inside.

Sometimes it's hard to tell from the outside the hard times someone is experiencing on the inside.

What's your advice to someone else living with Depression?

If I could give anyone with depression any advice it would be to talk to someone, don't bottle things up. It's not healthy. Talking does help.

For many, the suicidal state is involuntary. You get there because you feel trapped in a corner, you get there because you can't see any other way out. Being told it is a selfish thing to do reinforces the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, while driving the whole thing away from what is most important: helping that person who is seriously ill.

Don't bottle things up. It's not healthy. Talking does help.

My Story: Kelly CameronThe way I describe it is that depression moors you on an island where you can't feel anything beyond pain, and can't see what lies ahead. It is a brutal illness. I know this from experience.

Once depression hits, sometimes all rational thoughts fly out of the window. I have said appalling things to the people I love the most. I did not care about tomorrow. I was never thinking about myself but about how scared I was that the feeling of not wanting to be here would never go away.

At my lowest I would think things like, "Why plan for tomorrow? I'm not going to be here." Or when I was cooking dinner I would think, "Why bother, you should just kill yourself and put everyone out their misery," or "I'm a burden they would be better of if I kill myself.”

The best thing I ever did was tell someone what I was thinking. The person (a professional) took me seriously. I am very lucky to have a family and a partner who insisted I got the treatment I needed.

A lot of depressed people are terrified of appearing ‘crazy’, ‘a loony’, ‘a freak’. Sometimes it's hard to tell from the outside the hard times someone is experiencing on the inside. Recently I have been living for those around me more than myself; I didn't want to let anyone down.

It was on my dad's birthday, seeing my family all leave the hospital without me, that I realized how much I want to be here. I still have so much left to do with my life. Depression does not discriminate. It doesn't care how good you have it, it doesn't care about your gender, your sexuality, your wealth. It can affect anyone at any time.

I wrote this so that if you are someone (or know someone) who is feeling this way, feeling alone, I encourage you to seek help (even if you want to talk to me – it will go no further, I promise).

I know it's scary; no one likes to admit they need help or ask for help, but it's ok to ask for help and to feel scared. Those that love you want to help you. Think about a time when someone came to you for advice or help – did you turn them away? I doubt you did.

You deserve to know that you are valuable, loved, and a good person. I know how hard it is to see the other side from where you are – I have been there more than once – but please ask for help, that's all I'm trying to get across.

Is there anything else we should know?

At the moment I am going through another bad patch. I have recently been in hospital again for four weeks, and while there I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Through reading what BPD is I think I have always had it. Being bullied all through secondary school knocked my confidence, and I find it hard trusting people – I have lost friends through it.

My Story: Kelly CameronMental illness is a difficult thing to describe. No one word, sentence or paragraph does it justice because mental illness essentially changes the way a person thinks, feels and even acts. It's not an illness that changes one thing about you; living with mental illness can change many moments of your everyday life.

Even though I am on medication I still have bad days. I wake some days to find myself still exhausted, even though I have had 8-9 hours sleep. It's the depression that wipes you of all energy and motivation.

I go to the bathroom when I wake up, look in the mirror, and see what I feared – I'm still the ugliest girl ever, still fat with dark circles under my eyes, fat chins and goofy teeth. But then I remember it's the depression that's making me think like this, I then I work all day to fight the urge to self-harm.

Sometimes when I get home from shopping I have to lie on the couch because acting "happy" and "normal" is exhausting. The effort it takes to act "normal" can be overwhelming. People with mental illness often appear "normal" to others but inside they are screaming and crying.

Depression and BPD changes the way you think about yourself and the way you see the world around you. Depression and BPD give you irrational and false thoughts and even though you know this, it doesn't stop them from coming.

Not every day is a dark day, but I have to get through days like that to see other days that are much brighter.

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