Gemma's story: finding ways to cope
Posted Monday 14 March 2011
A guest post from Gemma Davies*, who talks about her experiences of mental distress and how she copes. Warning: This post discusses suicide and may be triggering for some people.
In the last ten years I’ve gone through: a man thinking it’s ok to touch my then barely-formed breasts every Saturday; a mother who has a different boyfriend every week and doesn’t use contraception; emotional abuse; living with my mother’s verbally abusive, occasionally violent partner; living in a house where I shared my bedroom with wild mice; living in a very cold, damp flat with no money for heating; cracks in the walls.... throw into the mix that I’ve been in pain for not that much shy of three years.
It’s fair to say that I’ve not exactly been a happy bunny. I’ve cried myself to sleep, I’ve walked to the top of multi-storey car parks and peered over the top with the temptation of jumping, I’ve overdosed and I have self harmed.
Obviously to inflict any sort of injury intentionally on oneself is not a good thing, but sometimes we feel we have no option, that this is the only way. For me, it was making the mental pain physical, and it helped so much.
But what made me stop? A friend died. And I told myself that if people were dying, who wanted to live, then me, living, wanting to die, couldn’t be. How could I want to die while people who wanted to live were dying? I couldn’t. So I stopped. And I am a little over five years free, and I intend on being another five years free, and another five, and another.
However, not once have I called myself depressed, and I do not intend to. I self harmed but I don’t any more, so that makes me an ex self harmer. But despite still feeling frequently sad, I don’t label myself as depressed. I might well be, I don’t know. But not once have I been to see my GP and said, “I am sad.”
It’s not something I plan on doing any time soon either. Being sad is what I know, and it might well be environmental, it might be depression, but what do I do about it? I keep busy and I find ways of cheering myself up. I write, I study as a part time student, I knit, I surf the net. I like to read and watch TV and listen to music and write letters to my friends. I do things that make me happy, and I have amazing friends who make me happy too.
I tell myself things in my life will only get me down if I let them. I am in control of how I let them affect me. I’m determined to make myself a happier person without the help of medication. I am the one to control how sad I get. And I just hope that someone out there, right now, is reading this, to see that even through bad, there can be good. You can do this. One day, things will change, but you have to aim for that day. You’ll get there.
Read Mind's information on coping with depression and self harm. We always recommend that you seek advice from a health professional if you are experiencing mental distress. You can find your nearest doctor or hospital with this tool from NHS Direct.
If Gemma's story has affected you and you are in crisis, please email or call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. For help finding information or support near you, please email or call the Mind infoline on 0300 123 3393.
*Not her real name.
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