NAME: Rebecca Tucker
OCCUPATION: Studying Clinical Psychology at the University of Lincoln*
“I hate being asked, “So what triggered your depression”, because to be honest with you, if I knew, I would have done something sooner. I guess it could have started from childhood although I didn’t realise it until recently. I noticed I went from being a happy, sociable, optimistic, and a high-achiever to a negative, pessimistic person who cringed at the thought of meeting new people and being in new situations- most of the time. Growing up, I had a lot of people around me but very little support- and it’s amazing what that does to you. From going to different schools in London then moving to Cambridge, I felt I never really fully fitted in anywhere and what upset me the most is that I wasn’t sure why. Before I had braces, I used to get bullied for the way my teeth were and that really knocked my confidence because at a young age, you don’t really notice your flaws until others point it out to you. I can remember on the last day of school in Year 6, most of my friends had written me a letter explaining to me that they didn’t like me and they didn’t want me to be around them anymore. From then, most mornings before school were filled with panic and most afternoons after school were filled with tears. As I couldn’t confide in my friends, I began to demand more attention from consecutive non-sexual relationships, which gave me more grief than good. All I wanted was a hug and someone to tell me everything was okay but instead I got the “if you don’t do this for me then…” kind of threats, so on to the next one I went. I began to feel physically and emotionally abused, and had been cheated on a lot of times, which led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough.
When I was 15, I was sexually abused by my then boyfriend’s “friend” and all I could remember was a lot of missed calls from my mum demanding to know why I was coming home late. I thought to myself…I couldn’t tell her, she wouldn’t believe me it sounds like an excuse and to be honest, at the time I wasn’t even sure I understood what rape was. Was I asking for it? Technically I shouldn’t have been there at the time, was it my fault? Despite the many calls I received from the guy threatening to tell everyone I had cheated on the guy I was with (who dumped me the next day, saying he wanted nothing to do with me) and expose my “secret” I just couldn’t report it. Especially when I finally confided in a friend, who was convinced I was joking. I didn’t want the drama and up until now, I am just trying to move on from it.
Although I felt as though I had a lot of friends in London, when I moved to Cambridge, I soon realised what kind of friendship that was, when it has been almost 5 years since I moved and not one of them came to visit me. I found it extremely difficult to open up to the family I lived with and with the lack of support from my extended family and friends I truly felt alone and began to internalise my feelings. I became more and more lonely and by sixth form, I was spending most of my time in the library and eating lunch in the toilets, which became the norm, as I was terrified to go into the canteen alone.
Since I came to university I thought the experience would allow me to meet more people and actually make friends but in fact in made me feel more and more isolated. It didn’t help that my course has about 300 people so it’s easy to get lost in the midst of things. Eventually I became nervous to go to lectures and by 2nd year I missed more than half of the semester and was unable to take 3 out 4 of my summer exams. Clearly I had lost confidence in all my abilities because I couldn’t believe I could pass them so what was the point. For someone who was an A student, clearly something was wrong because I had never felt like that in my life. The thought of challenging myself by completing an essay and revising was exhilarating to me and now I couldn’t even face it and it genuinely didn’t bother me. I didn’t care. I go to parties and feel isolated, feeling like no one wanted me there and I was only invited due to being a mutual friend. I’m always being asked “what’s wrong”, “why are you so moody” and I realised I just couldn’t stand being an introvert in a room full of extroverts anymore, because they just didn’t get it. It takes me a long time to mentally prepare myself to leave the house, especially when it involves being around a lot of people. I stopped caring about what I looked like and what I wore, because I wouldn’t look beautiful anyway despite the amount of new things I would buy myself to make myself feel better. The only times I would look in the mirror is when I was going for a night out because if I hadn’t put anything on my face, there shouldn’t be anything to check for the next day so who cared- I would still feel ugly anyway even if I did make an effort. I could not point out one positive thing about myself- I wanted to change everything.
I didn’t have an outlet; I kept it to myself and put a smile on most days because I was done with trying to talk out my issues. I realised how much of a workaholic I had become in my school and work life, working up to four jobs at a time day and night during sixth form and university, so I wasn’t constantly at one with my thoughts. I had no hobbies. Then it all became too much, I couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings, I was constantly overeating (then crying when I couldn’t fit into my jeans), and having intense suicidal thoughts and then I started cutting because the physical pain was so much less painful than my emotional pain. I felt unsafe being alone with myself. And just before my 20th birthday it hit me. I have depression and if I don’t do something about it it’s going to kill me. Thankfully, I met some amazing people on my course who have been so supportive and I have met my best friend (and housemate) and boyfriend here at Uni and they have all been especially supportive. They encouraged me to receive counselling, which lead me to have CBT sessions. However, I realised my issues were a lot more deep rooted and it felt as much physical as mental and so I recently started taking anti-depressants which was a scary feeling in itself.
Even though it’s still a major thing in my life, simply being aware of it has made things much better for me. And I can’t say I’ve beat my depression or social anxiety just yet or do I feel anywhere close to it but with each day I feel like I’m getting somewhere and that, for me means so much. Of course there are good days but at the moment they’re so few compared to the bad days even though I try to make the most of them, I knew what awaited me the next day. Rather strangely, having depression has lead to a few positive outcomes. Firstly, it forced me to realise that I need to start putting myself first, work less, not be so hard on myself and learn to take a break once in a while. Secondly, I want to help support those who need it in any aspect of their life and I feel more able to do so, having gone through it myself, thus paving the way for my career direction. I am now able to use my experience to help those who need to hear it, which is really what prompted me to start this whole thing in the first place.”
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