Sunday 8 November 2015


Reader Quinn talks honestly about how social anxiety and depression have shaped her life…

Quinn says:
I struggle with anxiety issues… they make it very hard for me to be outside by myself or with people I don't know well… and I'm not a kid anymore, so you can imagine it gets a  but awkward having to take your mother everywhere. I can't eat in front of anyone who isn't in my family or a close friend, which is a pain, and I can't make or maintain eye contact. Because of this, when I go out I spend the whole time worrying about what others think of me. In some ways I don't care, but I live in fear of embarrassing myself, saying something stupid or mishearing something, so I stay quiet when I am out and avoid leaving the house as much as possible.

I have depression too, and that makes me feel empty and lost most of the time. Depression is like a glass coffin - it keeps you cut off from everyone around you, but they can see you so they assume you're fine. On good days, I can get up and interact with people I know. On bad days, I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling with no motivation to get up, wash, talk or even feed myself. This makes me think I am lazy and stupid, which makes me hate myself and that doesn't help, as you can imagine. Everything seems kind of grey and muted and pointless, and I don't feel like I am actually part of the world. I look at people smiling and laughing and being happy and I try to be happy too, but I just feel empty. I make the effort to pretend to be happy, and that's one thing I can say for myself… I am a great actress.

To help with these issues I have a psychiatrist, a community psychiatric nurse and a support worker. I take an anti-depressant med which made me feel numb to begin with… then it began to help and I felt normal, but now it is starting to lose effect. The psychiatrist deals with the medication side of things and my CPN and support worker mostly just talk and sometimes try to desensitise me to social situations. Yesterday my support worker got me to join a drop-in group which was OK, and today my CPN took me to Costa as a way of getting me out and about again. I couldn't eat my food and only managed a few sips of drink, so I probably have a way to go there. I don't like being put in situations that make me uncomfortable, even though I know it's for my own good. I want to feel better, and that's not going to happen if I don't do anything... so I will have to keep trying.

The amazing and powerful illustration for this feature is by reader Skye: many thanks!

Cathy says:
Quinn's account is powerful, thought-provoking and painfully honest. It certainly helps me to understand more about anxiety and depression, and hopefully it will help you too. Have YOU ever struggled with mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say, or to show your support for Quinn.


  1. Things like anxiety and depression have always confused me, and I didn't know how much it control your life. This is such an empowering, brave article and it has really made me open my eyes to what some people go through every single day. I hope that someday Quinn will not have to face these fears, and that there truly will be a rainbow at the end of her cloud.

  2. I am incredibly sorry about what you're going through, and can't help but think about how much courage it took you to post this. I want to thank you for sharing it, and I hope that you get better. You must hear that a lot and feel like it's empty, meaningless, but it comes from the bottom of my heart when I say this, and I mean it.

  3. before i begin i would like to state i do not, have not and hopefully will not have depression or anxiety or anything along those lines, some peole might argue that that means i do not have a good understanding of the subject thus depriving me of the right to write this article: not true. me being a new pair of eyes on the situation means i am not biased. let me begin...
    i do not understand why we as humans are constantly putting ourselves down despite wanting to do better, if we are so desperate to change ourselves why are we wasting time hurting ourselves both physically and mentally when we could be actually doing better. i may sound harsh but its the truth. we are so lucky that we have life, so why are we acting like a spoilt child who didnt get what they wanted for christmas? i admit, im very fortunate and probably cant even imagine what some people ae going through but for example if someone is bullying you and you dont like it, why havent you told someone? perhaps your scared that you wont be belived, but if you dont take the chance, you may never know, and you may always regret it.
    (if i caused offence im very sorry but this is how i feel)

    1. Leigh, I imagine you are quite young and perhaps have never seen someone close to you suffer… I hope you never do. It's heart breaking. Depression is an illness… the chemicals in the brain alter and cause very low mood; anxiety disorder and other mental health issues are also things that the sufferer cannot control. This feature is not about bullying, but bullying is also a very serious and sometimes violent situation where people are afraid to speak out as they've been threatened with retaliation. Yes, we are all very lucky to have the gift of life. Imagine feeling so very, very hurt and unhappy that you no longer want that gift at all. You're lucky if you cannot imagine that, but it is much more common than you may think, and a very real problem. I appreciate your comment, but hope you'll re-read Quinn's article and try to find some empathy and understanding.

    2. With love and respect, Leigh… and thank you for thinking about the issue. Understanding will come. (((xxx)))

  4. Please help Cathy!

    My friend lets call her Lilly, keeps saying to everyone that she is depressed as though its something to be proud of (although if you have it never be ashamed of yourselves) yet it's clear she doesn't have it. I knew that she didnt but after reading this its even more clear, she is always playing out and laughing, not what depressed people do. And now she is telling everyone she is self harming and saying she already has, but before she told everyone that I knew it was a bite from her dog, no the key she claims to cut with.
    Im so angry because its a serious matter and she is acting like its a joke and that people dont die because of it!
    Please help, I changed her name and mine to protect us, if thats ok.

    1. I can see why you may think this, Jessica, but depression doesn't always show its true face to the outside world… it's hard sometimes to get beyond the masks people use and see what is happening underneath. It may be a cry for attention, as you suspect, but take it seriously and talk to a trusted teacher, who can have a word with Lilly and see what is going on. If she needs to open up and talk, she can; if the whole thing is a fiction, no harm is done and at least your mind will be at rest and the teachers will be aware of the situation. Well done for caring. xxx

    2. Yes, my friends didn't believe me at first when I told them I was self-harming. They made out that I was a lucky bouncy immature-ish girl who had a perfect life and needed to take this sort of thing seriously. I was really upset, but eventually they understood and supported me as good and trusting friends. On the other hand, I see what you mean on how some people just don't seem to get it -- but perhaps Lilly is pretending to act as if it isn't a big deal to cover up how she feels on the inside.

  5. I totally understand this story I experience the same issues too, it makes me feel less alone. I am suffering with social anxiety and depression too and I am also getting an assessment for Autism Aspergers syndrome too. I also have help from a psychiatrist and a therapist too I am lucky I have this help. It is so difficult to go out and be with people and really affects self esteem and my life has stopped at the moment when I should be able to do things that other girls do like go out and have fun. I feel sad for anyone who has these feelings too and I hope everyone who has this will come through it and also I wish there was more understanding of mental health in the world x



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