My real life experience with depression
My name is Stephanie Eberle and I am a 23-year-old retail assistant living in Sydney, trying to find my way in life. I am also diagnosed with severe clinical depression, generalised and social anxiety and panic disorder. My life experience with depression has had a major effect on my life but it has never stopped me from living and loving. I have lived through the deepest, darkest phase of my life and I have found my way out and continue to find my way into a better place.
It all started when I was 13 years old, back when the trend was dark clothes, dark music and the social-media platform Myspace. It was as though it was somehow cool to be depressed without really feeling depressed. So I guess you can see why I might have thought it was just a phase and didn’t want to reach out for help.
I remember lying in bed and crying, crying for no good reason, always imagining myself in someone else’s shoes or living a completely different life.
As years went by, my depression deepened and I found myself in a very bad headspace. Taking my life was a constant thought; hope for a happier life felt completely out of reach for me and death was always at the very forefront of my mind.
In 2012, I made the decision to end things. I was over living: I was over feeling sad for no good reason, over worrying and over the constant anxiety. I felt that no one understood, like no one truly cared.
At that time I was also engaged to my now husband. Don’t get me wrong: life was good, love was beautiful and I was healthy. I just couldn’t shift that desire to disappear — and that is what depression is.
I have lived through the deepest, darkest phase of my life and I have found my way out and continue to find my way into a better place.
I came Home from work one day and thought to myself, “This is it. This is the day I take my life.” I had it all planned out, from what time I was going to do it to where I was going to do it and how I was going to make it happen. It was an exhilarating feeling, thinking that finally I could take myself away from the hell I was living inside my own head.
Try holding something like that inside for an entire day — it was almost impossible. The frustration inside me was building; I was feeling anxious and didn’t want to wait until the desired time; I couldn’t wait for everyone to go to bed. And then I burst: I broke down, becoming an inconsolable mess, and confessed my plans to my fiancé. Just as I suspected he would, he drove me straight to the closest hospital.
After hours of waiting in the emergency room, I was taken in to speak to a social worker, who took me into the psych ward where I’d stay until they thought it was safe to release me. My experience in that ward was like nothing I had ever experienced: lying in a bed surrounded by four blank walls, doped up on drugs. I felt like I was in prison for feeling depressed — but I needed that.
They contacted my father, who arrived shortly after. I was angry that they had called him without my consent but also grateful as he was able to see me at my lowest. I felt like we really connected that day; after all, it’s not that no one cared about me, as I thought; it’s that I wouldn’t let anyone care about me. I didn’t reach out to those who loved me, which made it impossible for them to help me.
After I was released, I went on a mission to achieve happiness: talking to different psychologists, trying different medications, doing everything I believed I could to make my life better.
It was never easy. Depression isn’t something you can turn on and off like a light switch; it’s a darkness that consumes you daily and something you need to really work on internally.
But, as the years have gone by, I have finally found myself in a better place: reaching out to professionals, opening up to my loved ones and doing things that make me feel good have made it a lot easier to cope with.
I do not claim to be recovered, but being able to really understand my depression has been a massive step towards recovery. You have to realise that not everyone’s experience is the same. Depression can be caused by many factors and mine happens to be a chemical imbalance, something that runs in my family.
After years of studying my own mental health, I am now at a point where I can manage it and live in a content state of mind.
I use writing and expressing myself creatively to cope; I also find that speaking up and reaching out to others who suffer helps me overcome my own struggles. I think that’s what you need: a passion in your life. When you’re depressed, it’s hard to find passion inside yourself, but I’ve always used my depression as inspiration for helping others and writing. Because it’s raw, it’s real; it’s relatable.
Exercising is also another major thing that has helped. I began running every day and it not only improved my mental health but also my overall wellbeing. Exercise, you see, increases endorphins — chemicals in the brain that carry mood-lifting properties — so, once you get yourself active, those endorphins start flowing. I find that it’s a healthy, natural high that promotes a happier, more positive attitude.
I’ve also been eating healthy foods that make me feel good inside, drinking water and enjoying all the natural wonders the world has to offer.
Through using all these methods I’ve been able to really shift my depression to the very back of my mind and minimise the negative feelings. Now, at 23, I’m healthy, happily married and building my first home with my husband, continuing down the road of self-love and recovery.