‘Don’t suffer in silence — I’m still alive because I asked for help’


Jennifer* is a 17-year-old pupil at a Jewish school in London. Here, she shares her story of depression and recovery:

I was always a happy and healthy girl, but when I started my GCSEs, my world changed. We received our predicted exam grades, and mine were mostly A*s. I felt like I was nowhere near clever enough, but I had to get those grades no matter what. I would lie on my bedroom floor until midnight, with books and papers sprawled out in front of me, trying to understand a theory or equation that I just couldn’t work out.

To sum it up, I exhausted myself. I started pulling out my hair with stress, and then depression hit me.
I don’t remember much, but all I do know is that I became depressed very quickly, self-harming twice a day or sometimes more. Many people think that self-harm is attention-seeking but, for me and many others in the same boat, it was a cry for help. I saw no future, and my life was so devastatingly miserable, although on the outside it seemed perfect. 

The school tried to help but it wasn’t enough for me, so I was sent to hospital for three months. I then moved to a crisis unit before transferring to another NHS facility. It took a long time to improve, especially due to the competition between all the patients there, but with the help of the staff, I decided that I wanted a future. I sat my GCSEs in hospital, and despite completely teaching myself, I got all A*s, As and Bs.

When I was physically healthy enough, I was discharged, and slowly but surely got better. I started an online blog, where a huge community of people in recovery could talk to each other and help one another.

Since returning home, my life has been sewn back together. I taught myself how to work hard, yet still relax and have a social life, so that I could avoid stress and relapse. I am now planning to study psychology at university next year, so that I can become a psychologist and help other people like me.

If I had never asked for help , I am almost sure that I wouldn’t still be alive. I urge you to seek support as quickly as you can, as the earlier you catch it, the better your outcome.

My message to everyone is that the worst days in recovery are better than the best days when you are ill and that, whatever your problem, you can get help and be happy. You just have to take that first step.

*Not her real name

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