Trigger Warning: This story contains mention of suicidal thoughts that may be triggering to some.
“You might look at my Instagram and think, ‘Gosh she’s confident,’ or ‘Wow, she loves herself.’ However, behind every photo, there is a story. Let me start at the beginning.
My name is Charlotte. I was born in the United Kingdom to English parents, and when I was 8, we moved to France, then to Canada at 15, and then back to the UK at 16, where we have stayed ever since. I now live with my partner and our dog in a lovely flat next to the river. While I was very fortunate to have had all these experiences, it wasn’t without its struggles growing up.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when my issues with mental health started. I now believe there has always been this darkness inside of me. My earliest memory is one from when I was around the age of 13. I had just started high school in France and was facing the challenges of hormones, trying to find my personality, and who I was, amongst the ever-growing peer pressure that existed in high school.
There was a boy. He was sweet, handsome, and smart. Word had got around I had taken a liking to him. I was always very shy and never had the confidence to approach him. One day on the bus, this boy found a handwritten note in his bag. The note was signed off by me, but it wasn’t from me. Someone had forged my handwriting and put this note in his bag. Of course, no one believed me. I cried, and boy, did I cry. I went home that night and something inside of me broke. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘Why do they not see what I see when I look in the mirror. I see a strawberry blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. Why does everyone else see a monster?’ From this day on, the bullying didn’t stop. Not until I moved away.
This one incident has stuck with me forever, for it was the start of 2 years of bullying, which resulted in me developing body dysmorphia. Although I was only a size 10, I would buy size 14 clothes as this is what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I didn’t see myself for what I was. I saw what my brain wanted me to see, which was a monster. An ugly, overweight monster. It is still so hard to sit here and tell this story, it brings me to tears every time.
Fast forward to 18, back in the UK. At this point, I had not looked to get any help for my issues that had been developing over the years. I just simply pushed them down. My parents didn’t even know how I was really feeling. I suddenly found a new way to cope with the pressures of society: drinking. Great, I could get drunk and all my problems would go away. So that’s what I did for 2 to 3 years. As a result, I started lashing out at my parents who tried to help me, advising me to stop going out every night, and trying to keep me safe. My teachers must have hated me, I was vile. I wish I could go back and say sorry as all they did was try to help, but I treated them like dirt. Why? That’s the worst part, I don’t know why. I have this anger inside of me, this rage I needed to get out, so I drank and drank, and drank, but the rage would not stay down.
There was a group of people I was ‘friends’ with. I use the term friends loosely. I always knew they liked to talk about each other behind their backs, but I didn’t really care as for once I felt ‘cool.’ It sounds sad, I know. One day, they tricked me into going to the leisure center car park and started shouting and screaming at me, saying I was trying to split them all up, and I had been saying all these terrible things about them. Anyway, I was really shaken up. I got back into my car, drove to my mom’s work, and told her I didn’t want to be here anymore.’ I can’t do this. I am a terrible person.’ She talked me down, and at that point, I knew I needed to change something. I needed to find a way to cope.
I did, and this time, it was work. I worked full time as a trainee accountant and part-time at River Island. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was working. It was fun, and I enjoyed working. I had decided I wanted to become a Chartered Accountant. I had cleared my head, and it was all starting to look up. Don’t get me wrong, the darkness was still there. I still carried this anger and sadness inside of me, but it was manageable.
There were around 3 to 4 years of peace. One failed relationship, which is fine, we all have those. Moved around a few jobs to climb up the career ladder. Then found my partner, moved in together… All good, right?
That was until last October. I was stuck in a dead-end job that wasn’t using me to my full potential, and the workaholic in me was going MAD. Then one morning at half-past 6 a.m., I got a text from my dad: ‘I am in the hospital.’ Now, my dad has had a long history of health issues starting with lung cancer way before I was born. He had a heart attack and ended up being in the hospital for a week. I don’t know why or how, I wish I did know, but this broke me. I mean something in me changed for the worst.
The anger and the darkness consumed me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work. My boss kindly gave me a week off to be with my dad at the hospital. The day I went back to work, I wasn’t the same person. Someone said one word to me, and I threw my keyboard. Why? I don’t know. I was spiraling. That week, my partner went out to see his friend. He made me a cup of tea before he went, and left me on the sofa. When he came back 3 hours later, I was in the same place with the same (now cold) cup of tea in my hand. I had not moved for 3 hours. I thought he had been gone 2 minutes. Following this, I broke down. Curled up on the floor, crying my eyes out saying, ‘What is wrong with me? I don’t do this anymore.’
I thought this would all be solved by my dad coming out of the hospital. He was let out and went home to my mom. Did this solve my problems? Unfortunately not. Shortly after, on my walk to work one morning, I almost threw myself in front of an HGV coming down the road at full speed. I got to work screaming, shaking, and crying. My boss called my partner to come and get me. This was when I admitted I needed help.
The next day, I swallowed my pride and went to the doctor. After a lengthy discussion, I was diagnosed with depression and was also told I was starting to show signs of bipolar disorder, and if I didn’t get the help I needed now, there was a chance I would end up developing bipolar disorder. This scared me. I made a plan with the doctor. She prescribed me a course of anti-depressants and referred me for counseling.
It is always hard at first to understand how talking to a counselor can help. How will talking help? I needed the tablets to stop the pain, but what I didn’t know at this point was unless I dealt with the root cause of my issues, that pain would never really go away. It was simply being masked by the tablets.
With my tail between my legs, I went to talk to a lady I had never met, about my life. To my surprise, it wasn’t long before I started opening up. She was the most welcoming and kind person. She listened, she understood, and she didn’t judge me. She helped me dig into my own thoughts, brought out memories that were too painful to relive, and had been buried deep down. With every session, I started to feel lighter and lighter.
One year later, this, hands-down, has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. I had been fighting myself and my thoughts for so long, but I am healing. I don’t think anyone ever fully recovers from depression. I believe it will always live inside of me. However, I know how to cope with it now. I know my triggers, and I know what to do when I feel myself slipping. I book in an hour with my counselor, I no longer see her on a regular basis, only as and when I feel I need to. But this keeps me from falling again.
I was so ashamed of admitting there was something wrong with me. I was so scared of what people might think, and the impact it would have on my career. Would I ever really get over it? What if everyone thought I was just going mad One thing this journey has taught me it is okay to ask for help. There is always a way out of the darkness.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Charlotte Bond from Worcester, UK. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more stories like this:
‘Your son cut class today.’ I got the phone call no parent expects. ‘Excuse me?!?!’ I was LIVID.’: Mom comforts teen son battling depression, ‘we should treat mental illness the same as physical ailments’
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.