Sometimes, depression can feel overwhelming, and the things you try to help might not be working straight away. One thing that can help you is hearing stories from other young people who have been through challenges like yours. We put together this page with stories from young people to share some examples of how depression can affect your life and how you can find your path forward.
Tara’s experience of opening up to a friend to overcome depression
I was in a deep hole
Over a period of about two months I fell into a deep hole of depression, when several issues came to a head in my life. It all began when schoolwork started to get difficult. After years of easy grades, I suddenly had to work hard for them, and the requirements became more complex and intense. After a while I gave up trying, as I’d convinced myself that I just couldn't do it. I felt lost and confused, with no idea of what I wanted for the future. I lost all motivation. I thought that by giving up and ignoring the difficult things, life would get easier.
Gradually, I became increasingly unhappy with myself and it began affecting other parts of my life, particularly relationships with my family and close friends. I became very removed and distant. My emotions became more intense and I fell deeper into a black hole of depression. Although I maintained the smile and the happy face, I was screaming on the inside for someone to notice how unhappy I was.
My sadness turned into anger
My sadness turned to anger, and I became angry at the world, at myself and at everyone else. I began taking my anger out on my family, constantly fighting with Mum. I just didn't know what else to do. I spent a lot of time alone in my room listening to music and crying, trying to escape from the world.
I soon found an outlet for my emotions in writing and drawing. By spilling it all out on paper, I could begin to think more clearly and make sense of how I felt.
I opened up to my friend
The situation started to get better when I finally began to talk about it. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so bad after all. I opened up to a friend and, after all the tears and emotion, I realised that people did care about me. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I learnt a lot about life as I gradually overcame my depression. It’s not easy, but it's not meant to be easy. It's the challenging times and experiences that make us better and stronger people.
Although I still don't know exactly what I want to do in life, I’ve realised that if you do things that make you happy, you’ll get somewhere that you want to be and you’ll find happiness along the way.
How Jasmine dealt with anxiety and depression in high school
Jasmine shares how she managed her anxiety and depression while she was in high school, through tools and help including ReachOut.
It was a massive release for me to find [ReachOut] and find that [depression and anxiety] was normal and it happens to other people, people like me.
Some things that helped Jasmine when she was dealing with depression and anxiety in high school include:
- friends and teachers she trusted reaching out to her and asking whether she was okay
- reading ReachOut resources about depression and anxiety, which helped her understand what she was going through
- realising what she was going through is normal and happens to so many young people
- getting on the ReachOut Online Community and connecting with other young people.
Courtney’s experience of going to hospital to help overcome depression
I was 12 when I first started to feel useless and abandoned. I kept a journal, which I wrote in every day. I sometimes wrote that I wished I wasn't alive, so that I wouldn't hurt as much. When I was 15,
I had a breakdown one day at school. I was taken to hospital, where I was cared for by people who wanted to help me. I was put on medication, which didn't help that much, but I soon began the journey to become 'me' again, even though I wasn't sure who I was.
As a result of being bullied, I dropped out of school. I decided to start taking part in my local community, and so I began a 12-month traineeship. But I found learning how to cope both at work and at home really hard.
I still have my bad days, but in-between them, there is some good. I constantly try to keep myself safe from my own self. In doing so, I’ve learnt that I'm not the only one suffering from depression.
‘I’m not alone.’
Depression is just something that some people have. It's like a little black dog that’s injured and has lost his owner. I can now see it as a life-changing experience, something that I can benefit from.
All of us with depression have our own individual experience with it, and we each deal with it in different ways. I still check in with people constantly, to monitor myself and see how the little dog is doing. Some days are hard and I back-track. Sometimes I feel like I’ve become the little black dog, and that the Courtney I once was has disappeared. But I know that's not the case.
To everyone out there who feels alone and dominated by depression, I offer my love, support, and advice: get help. I did. It wasn't easy, but now I'm back on track. A hotline like Kids Helpline is a great place to call and start getting help. I can also call my brother. He’s my best friend and the person who keeps me smiling.
I've had to give up a lot, and I've had to mature faster than most people my age. However, I believe that if you love your friends and family, then you have enough love for yourself. Each of us is just as important as the people who lead ‘normal’ lives. We’re the ones making the difference.
‘I'll never forget the support others gave me.’
Without the support of everyone I love, I don't know where I would be. I don't think I’ll ever forget the nurses, the psychologists and the friends I've come across, or could ever thank them enough.
With everything I’ve been through, I’m still trudging on, and I'm extremely grateful. I'm going places, and this demon, depression, isn’t going to stop me. I have dreams that I wish to fulfil, and my little black dog sits beside my dreams, waiting to be taken for a walk.
Sara's experience helping her boyfriend deal with his depression
Seeing a loved one go through a hard time always impacts you in some way or another. You watch them hang their head and cry a little, and you pat them awkwardly on the back and tell them it will be okay, because you feel sad for them and want them to be okay. But you then carry on with your own life.
How it all started
When my boyfriend of two years started to get a bit emotional, I told him it was hormones, or the stress of exams, and I said I would hold his hand whenever he felt sad. One Sunday about a month later, I was sitting at home watching the telly when he called and asked to come over. Thinking he was just a bit down, I said: ‘Of course! I'll meet you at the train station.’
An hour later, when I met him, I wished I had a car. I practically had to carry him home, as he was sobbing in my arms. I was unbelievably confused. This was my boyfriend, the guy who cuddles me when I cry, and is always tough and strong and manly. Yet, here he was, as small and sad as a lost kitten, crying his eyes out because he had an argument with one of his friends. ‘He hates me, they all hate me, I hate me,’ he kept saying. To me, he was perfect – funny, smart, kind and caring. One of the best people I knew. It was so hard to sit and watch him say all these things about himself that
I knew weren’t true. I tried for weeks to convince him otherwise, but he refused to listen to a word I said.
For a couple of months, things went on like this: every so often, he would break down and come to me for help. I found myself losing concentration at school (he was in my year) and just watching him to make sure he was okay. Every day he would cry and cry. I would sit with him for hours while he cried, thinking it was weird and that no one else his age got depressed. I started to get depressed, too, because the person I’d felt close to, and could turn to for help, was now unable to support me. I got confused and insanely lost. He didn't want anyone else to know he felt like this, so
I couldn't tell anyone that my boyfriend has depression and ask what to do.
Getting some help
All my friends started to get annoyed with me because I hardly saw them anymore, and my mum got scared because she thought there was something really wrong with me. When a teacher asked me one day what was wrong and how he could help, I realised that my boyfriend's depression was rubbing off on me. I went and spoke to my dad, who is a youth worker, the next day. He told me all about depression and gave me some numbers that my boyfriend could call. Of course, my boyfriend refused to call the counsellor, but it cheered him up a little when I told him about the causes of depression. He started to realise it was quite a normal thing.
Slowly, my boyfriend began to see that it was okay to feel bad sometimes. I eventually talked him into going to see the school counsellor. I had to go with him the first time, but he eventually started to see her alone. Surprisingly, after only a few sessions with her, he seemed to be doing a lot better. Eventually, he managed to get back on track. With help from his mum, my mum, his closest friends, the school counsellor and from me, he started to return to his old self.
Looking back, I can't get over how silly I was not to talk to someone earlier. I was in no way ready to deal with all that I did. My boyfriend expected me to make things better, when I had no idea where to even begin.
I learnt how important it is to reassure someone who’s depressed that they’re not weird for feeling that way. In many ways, I’m grateful for this experience, because I now know that whenever I feel down or depressed, it’s a completely normal thing. I know that if a friend or family member is depressed, the best thing to do is help them in every way you can, be their friend and hug them a lot, but leave the medical work to the professionals. Try not to let their depression directly affect how you live your own life.
How getting help made Summer feel less alone
Summer tells of some mental health challenges she has dealt with, and how getting help made her feel less alone.
I went on the forums, I communicated with everybody so I wasn't feeling as alone, like there was somebody on the other side of another screen listening.
How Ashlea dealt with postnatal anxiety and depression
Young mum Ashlea shares her experience with postnatal anxiety and depression, and how getting help made a huge difference.
...talk to parents. Because someone will be able to give you that tiny little bit of advice that will save your sanity.
- Postnatal anxiety and depression can be difficult to recognise and the signs can be different for everyone.
- Breastfeeding can be really hard.
- Going to the GP is the first step to getting help.
- Eating healthily, being active and getting out of the house all can help you feel better.
- Get support through talking to other parents and going to parents' groups.