Sunday 29 May 2016


Reader Lily shares her experiences of hitting rock bottom during her last year of secondary school... and tells us how she gradually found the help and determination to handle the difficult days...

Lily says:
I went off the rails hard during my last year of A levels. I wasn't the traditional rule breaker who skipped school; I didn't run away from home or fight with my parents or my brother, or not more than is to be expected, at least. Instead, I went from feeling on top of the world to hitting rock bottom in just a few short months. All through my secondary school years I had my 'bad' days where I felt disconnected from everything that was happening around me, as if the world was devoid of happiness. This feeling came and went over the years, until a few months ago when I started my last year at school.

Suddenly, without warning, I lost all motivation to do anything. Some days I struggled to get out of bed. I started to fall behind in my A levels and when I failed something, I took it out on myself. I began to self harm, in an attempt to turn the pain I was feeling on the inside into something physical. My friends didn't understand how one minute I could be laughing and joking and the next I would shut down. I couldn't explain, because I didn't understand it myself. I thought about suicide - I had reached a point where I couldn't find any reason to stay. But there was still one part of me that didn't want to die, so I went to the doctors. I was eventually diagnosed with depressive disorder and traits of personality disorder, and suddenly it all began to make sense. I started counselling at school once a week and had appointments with my psychiatrist every few months.

Now, seven months down the line, I am getting ready for my A level exams. I'm heading to university in September and I am in a totally different place than I was back then. I am not 'fixed' - it doesn't quite work like that. I still self harm occasionally, and I still have bad days when I don't want to get up and face the world. I have started writing a memoir of sorts to document my experience with depression. I've called it 'How To Save A Life' and I read it when I feel hopeless. It reminds me of how far I've come and that when it comes down to it, I really do know how to save a life.

Now when the bad days come I focus on music and writing and my loved ones. And with that as my armour, I simply cannot lose.

Picture posed by model Caitlin - thank you. 

Cathy says:
This is such a powerful piece of writing... I have huge respect for Lily for sharing it with us, and I am so glad she has found help and ways to handle the difficult days. Have YOU ever struggled with depression? COMMENT BELOW to have your say...


  1. Unfortunately, on/off since I was 11/12 years old. It comes in waves, I can spend months feeling fine.. Then something stressful happens and triggers it off again.. Sometimes it only lasts for a few weeks.. Sometimes months. I've given up with medications & therapy ... It's never worked. I usually end up riding it out with a few breakdowns along the way. <3 xxx

  2. That is so good to share, I have struggled with this too but for me it was right at the start of secondary school and everything all went slowly wrong from there and then had to stop school and basically everything else in my life stopped (I imagine it like slowly going down hill on a bike then losing control then crashing at the bottom) . Things are getting better now but like Lily I still have bad days, usually a few bad days in a row. I have help from different professional people too who seem to specialise in different things I'm soooo grateful for NHS i don't know how I would be without them!!

  3. I don't know when my depression started. I remember wanting to die when I was 5/6 and I stopped eating then tried to hang myself when Mum found out I was throwing food away and started watching me eat to make sure I didn't get rid of anything. But I don't know if that was depression or simply a desire to disappear. I didn't know what death was but I knew it was different from being alive and I thought anything must be better. I had a few suicide attempts and thoughts of self harm over the next six years but only in times of stress. I didn't realise this was a problem until I was 11 and I confided in a friend. She reacted with shock and disgust so I quickly backtracked and resolved to keep it inside from then on. I still don't know if I was depressed then. I was still just looking for a way out (by the way, death is not a way out guys!). Maybe it started when I was 12. I started self harming then, for the same reason Lily did. Mental and emotional pain is confusing, you can't point to what hurts and stick a plaster over it and wait for it to heal. Even adults aren't quite sure how to deal with it so at 12 years old, I had zero idea what to do and my childish mind came up with causing physical pain because that, I could deal with. I knew how and where I was hurt and I knew how to make it stop which I couldn't do with emotional pain. It was obviously a bad idea because it didn't get rid of the emotional pain, it only caused more, but I wasn't exactly renowned for common sense. Honestly, don't do it, it doesn't solve anything and it causes a multitude of problems. It's 8 years later and I still struggle with self harming occasionally because it's a habit now. A really bad habit. Don't do it. So maybe it started when I was 12. My formative teenage years were a blur of self harm, more suicide attempts and failed trips to CAMHS (who declared me fine and discharged me at every visit only to be referred again after being found hurting myself in the school bathroom or breaking down and crying for no apparent reason. I somehow managed to get through my exams and I did alright. I have a couple of As and a B which I guess is good but I went to a school where everyone else did better than me in exams and considering I'd been the class geek for most of my life, something went wrong there. Anyway, I just muddled through and ended up at college which was alright. Then I did another year. That wasn't alright. That nearly killed me. I was seeing a psychologist regularly by that point but she was no help. Eventually, Mum found out and dragged me to a hospital to be assessed. I said I was going to kill myself. They decided I wasn't a risk to myself and sent me home with promises that I was on the emergency list to see a psychiatrist. A month later, I still didn't have an appointment. They'd forgotten about me. Figures. But yeah, everything was OK from then on. I got put on antidepressants, I saw several different people to offer various types of support and I'm doing a lot better now. Still have bad days, still struggle with self harm but I have a support group now. Like lyricalwren, I am so thankful for the NHS. They may have sent me away and forgotten me initially but in the end, they saved my life.

    1. Same here. Moods going on and off forever... self-harming... the NHS are everything; they saved my life.

    2. Yes, same here as well. Like Lyricalwren, it all sort of crashed at the point of secondary school and I had to stop. CAMHS are a lifesaver and the NHS too. I'm very sorry that Anonymous was rejected by CAMHS; you must have just seen a very bad person who just does this for the money.

    3. I don't have much experience with self-harm, but even though I am a total stranger I am so proud of you for coming though it <3 xxxxx

    4. Well done for carrying on xx

    5. try taking it out on a doll or stuffed animal. ;)

  4. It's ok to have bad days, the light always follows the dark <3 <3



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