Stigma Fighters: Nikki V.

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Stigma Fighters: Nikki V.

My name is Nikki and I have depression, anxiety and slight bipolar type II. I am 27 years old and have been living with depression and anxiety for over 10 years., Well, I think it’s just over 10 years, but if I’m honest it’s probably a lot longer than I think it is. But, anyway, it became very apparent at the age of 18 that I had mental health issues. After I had an abortion I was diagnosed with postnatal depression, and the symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse.

So after a few years of investigation, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and have tried and tested many tablets as well as different forms of counseling and therapy. But it is an ongoing battle and it’s something that I have had to come to terms with and live with on daily basis. I am not a stupid person, although some people would like to believe that it is stupidity that I suffer with and not a real condition. I have a BA Degree, a Masters Degree and several other qualifications and training. But because of the severity of my illness, I struggle to hold down a professional job. This in itself breaks my heart. I have studied and studied and battles through three universities and I cannot reap the rewards of the seeds that I have sewn because my head says “nope, not today.”

Being depressed is not just your average bad day, and there are many ways that other describe depression but personally I would say that it is an all consuming, debilitating and undignified disease that rots you from the inside out. It blackens your soul, it darkens your mind until you are left with a zombie like corpse that you call I I have been asked many times to explain depression, and there are just no words that can do it justice. But, I’ll give it my best shot.

Depression is, a disease that squats in the back of your mind like a toad, and when you think you’re doing ok, it jumps up and lets you know that you are still under its command. Personally, (and please don’t forget that all symptoms are different for different people) I spend days in bed, watching mindless tv shows, only getting up to pee and occasionally eat. I cry for hours on end for no reason other than I am alive and I have no future, I have no life plan and I can’t make plans in case my head again says “nope not today.” I spend days unable to do simple tasks, tidying up, showering, brushing my teeth, because it seems pointless, what is the point of doing these things, it makes no difference to my life, makes no difference to my state of mind and it certainly isn’t going to make a difference to my illness.

I sit for hours alone, in my disgustingly untidy bedroom wondering what I did to deserve this, why me? what on earth have I done that’s so bad that I would be cursed with this incorrhible disease. And I come up with nothing. I look around and look at my friends and family and see how well theyre doing, and I just cannot comprehend why on earth I cannot do life like they can. It just seems like everything I do isn’t good enough. Why is it impossible for me to get out of bed and go to work and earn a living? Why is it impossible for me to get up, brush my teeth and do my washing? Why can I not go out on the drink with friends and enjoy myself? Why can I not sleep in normal patterns and have normal hours in a day like normal people? And what is this word normal that I keep using?

How do I do that? How do I be normal? The services in my area (England) are so far behind with the mental health sector that it will be 30 years before I can get the help that I need. I have tried and tested many antidepressants and they are by far the worst drugs I have ever encountered in my life.  Most of them take six weeks to kick in and start making a difference, but the side effects are horrific, sweating, suicidal thoughts, feeling sick, dizziness, hallucinations, tiredness, fatigue. And even then after the six weeks you just feel numb. You’re just in another zombie state, but you sweat over everything and see things that aren’t really there…I’d rather be depressed thanks.

And the worst part of depression: STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION. I haven’t got a job because I was discriminated against. My symptoms were deemed purposeful actions and I was to blame. Most of my friends/family are accepting and supportive but some call me a scrounger, a liar, lazy, pathetic because I can’t just get on with it. I am called crazy, weird, silly, a child, immature, useless which just fuels my depression, it affirms what my brain is already telling me.

But having said all this, depression has made me the strong person that I am today, I have my flaws, I have my ups and downs, but I appreciate what’s good in life and I appreciate what I have. I will always strive and fight for a better life, and I am taking on my local authority and what us “crazy lunatics” need most is support, understanding and a chance to show what we can be.

If we all had this, the hours spent in bed would decrease, our opportunities would increase and our lives would feel as meaningful as they are in reality and not what our clouded brains make us think they are.

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My name is Nikki Vincent, and I live in North West England.I am 27 and I am currently a volunteer for the Youth Offending Service in North England. I am the director of a homelessness project, a volunteer for YOS and a volunteer for MINDI write a blog describing and discussing depression and mental illness. http://headinashed86.wordpress.com/ I am currently fighting to get my local government to improve the mental health services in my local area, specializing in supporting those who want to work, supporting those who want to go into education and the younger generations who are often overlooked. I am a lover of music, gigs and festivals and writing. I find that writing improves my ability to cope with my illness but also helps others to not feel so alone.

By | 2015-02-17T11:48:22+00:00 July 22nd, 2014|Categories: Brave People, Stigma Fighters|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Cary July 22, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorites so far. Wow. I could relate to SO much in this article about the various medications to not being able to make or keep plans with friends. Thank you so much for sharing! I wish you the best.

    • Nikki July 23, 2014 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Thank you, it means a lot… Nikki xx

  2. Sarah C July 22, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Right after my mom died in 2008, I went through a period of grief and embitterment that reorganized my previously manageable depression into any entirely new creature of malice — seeds of mental illness that had been present for years bloomed into OCD, anxiety disorder, and bipolar II disorder. I found myself, like you, unable to do even the smallest of tasks. Not even the things that I had once enjoyed were of any interest to me. I lost friends, members of my family gave me up as a lost cause, and my career tanked. It was during this time that I started to experience the stigma of mental illness — before my depression had been easily hidden and managed with therapy, SSRIs, and the occasional “mental health day” off from work or school, but I suddenly found myself very clearly ill, and every one around me knew it. One particular incident stands out in my mind: During an extended stay at my then-boyfriend’s parents house, his dad came into the living room to find me asleep on the sofa in the middle of the day. Now, it was my day off, but in his mind, it was another Monday, and people are supposed to get shit done on Mondays. He reproached me: “Are you sleeping??” as if it were the dirtiest, most irresponsible activity to find me engaged in. It was all I could do to get myself off of that sofa and walking, but such was the sting of shame.

    You aren’t alone. Thanks for sharing your struggle and lending to the power of our collective voices.

    • Nikki July 23, 2014 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      I fight a constant battle of Stigma, and to be honest, being as well educated as I am is just another reason for people to shake their heads at me and call me a failure.
      But I’ve made peace with my illness, it is what it is, and I refuse to give up and let it drown me… I will get back on my feet everytime, no matter what it takes… and yeah the shame gets to me, but it won’t stop me from moving on, whether it be from family who judge, friends who judge, employers that judge, there is a life out there for me somewhere, I just have to find it
      I wish you the very best and thank you for sharing your experience with me too, every person that shares their story with me, or offers words of advice reminds me that I’m not alone, and things will change Nikki xxx

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