Depression and low mood

Messages to other young people about depression and low mood

Young people we spoke with were passionate about helping other young people who were going through similar experiences with depression and low mood. Despite the very difficult times and even prolonged periods of depression many had experienced, they had all come through and were on the road to getting better. They wanted to pass on messages of courage, hope and strength to others who are perhaps going through something similar now. Above all, what these young people wanted to say to others was; “You are not alone, I was there too”.
“Hang in there, it WILL get better!”
When going through difficult periods of depression, many young people had been reassured that “it will get better”, and “it’ll pass”. They said that at the time they had seen such comments as flippant or ignorant and hadn’t taken any notice of them. Having come through depression, they finally saw it for themselves. Each of them had made it through the worst.
Some young people said that if there was one piece of advice they could give back  to themselves  when they were struggling that would be to “hang in there” and “to stick with it”. Even though at the time the future seemed insurmountable and daunting, with time, patience and work they had all gotten through it. Many emphasised that they had to allow themselves time, and to “be easy” on themselves. Not setting their goals too high and breaking tasks and days into smaller, more manageable chunks, helped them get through each day at a time and to feel a sense of achievement. See ‘Self-help and coping strategies’.
Allowing themselves time was essential. Young people said that acceptance, recovery and even finding the right treatment and solutions for their situation took time. Also, over time, “life changes”; life moves on and some of the things which had made them feel worse (for example school, or particular people) would become part of the past.
“It’s not your fault!”
Many young people had struggled with low self esteem and lack of confidence. Many had blamed themselves, or felt guilty for their low mood and felt they were a burden on others; family, friends and even health professionals. They said that the key to getting better had been the realisation that the depression and low mood they experienced was not caused by anything they had done, or hadn’t done. Once they got over the feeling that depression was their “fault”, they could stop punishing and blaming themselves and gradually start being more proactive. A few people called for “focus”, “determinism” and fighting spirit. One woman described how she finally realised that, like anyone else, she “deserved to be happy”. Another one said;
“I had times that I wanted to end my life, I used to do horrible things to my body because I thought it deserved it, but you owe it to yourself not to. Your body didn’t cause you this heartache; depression did, it doesn’t deserve being attacked. You don’t deserve inflicting pain on yourself because it is NOT your fault.”
Young people said that it was only once they had accepted that there was a problem and accepted they didn’t have to try and get through it alone, that they were able to receive the help around them, and to start getting better. A few people also pointed out how important it was to accept that they felt depressed, sad or angry, and not always try to fight it, ignore it or pretend those feelings weren’t real.

Something many young people said they had found difficult was putting themselves first. Focusing on “the one and only, yourself.” and “learning to love yourself” were key messages they wanted to pass onto others.

“Don’t suffer in silence”

“The worst thing you can do is suffer in silence”, one woman summarised. After years of self-harming and hurting herself in the hope that someone would notice her pain and offer her help, she finally realised all she needed to do was “open my mouth and say one word”. The barrier to asking for help that she’d built in her mind over a long time, wasn’t real and had prevented her from getting help sooner rather than later. Another woman said when she realised she had the freedom to “moan” and “vent” out pressures in therapy, she could get more out of it.
Young people couldn’t emphasise enough how important they thought it was to ask for help. They encouraged others to “speak up”, “not to coop up alone”, and to “stop analysing and get help”. They knew how hard it could be to ask for help but nobody had regretted making that first step. People also emphasised that sometimes what was needed was action, not overanalysing the situation;
“Don’t over rationalise things …and like just make up explanations for everything. Sometimes being able to rationally say that something is wrong doesn’t heal it.”
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Many also wished they had asked for help sooner than they did and several felt some of their added problems could have even been prevented, had they gotten help earlier on. As one woman said;
“So really I would have said to myself ten years ago, “Just ask for help.” And don’t deal with it on your own because you can’t.”
Getting a good support network of friends, family, online friends, support groups, pets, neighbours, health professionals, was essential. Even having just one supportive person in their lives could make all the difference. They also encouraged others to be persistent and to not settle for something they felt wasn’t helping. Rather than stopping counselling altogether, for example, they suggested changing the counsellor or finding a different form of therapy. One woman said; “if it doesn’t work with the first one, it doesn’t mean that it’s not ever going to work.”
They also wanted other young people to know that there is always help available, even when it doesn’t feel like it or even when “you can’t see it yourself”. One woman said it’s just about “taking the leap of faith, you won’t be worse off by trying”. Just opening your mouth would get the ball rolling and be the “beginning of the journey to recovery”.
“Even when you’re at the lowest of the low, I was laid on a road my back an open wound, covered in my own blood from my head, that’s the lowest point I’ve ever been, just looking up, just thinking, “What have I done?” It is not worth it. The best thing for you to do is to talk to someone and it’s such a release, a relief, it is just like all the weight you’ve been carrying around on your chest and shoulders has just gone. Okay you’ve still got depression and there is a way to recovery, but there are people to help.”

Last reviewed June 2017.


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