London, UK

I have been on antidepressants for 10 years on and off. I first went on them in sixth form when I was really depressed and suicidal and I remember being so ashamed of it, like it was this dirty secret that would ruin my life if anyone found out. It wasn’t even like I had a bad time at school or anything, I just thought I would lose all my friends if they knew. I didn’t take any time off school even though I probably should have, I talked myself into thinking I wasn’t really ill just because it was in my head, but I couldn’t focus on anything and my grades suffered really badly.  I don’t think it helped that my parents seemed quite ashamed of it, or just didn’t understand it. I remember thinking that if they couldn’t get their heads around it then how could my friends? It’s funny, because since growing up a bit, I’ve had conversations with those friends and we’ve finally opened up about mental health stuff. We’ve all been through so much shit behind closed doors. I can’t believe that we were as close as we were without knowing some of the stuff we know now about each other. It makes me sad knowing that they were struggling with their mental health too and I didn’t know. That’s also how they feel about me. I’m glad we all know now, so we can actually support each other properly and that we’re all closer for it.

It’s great that more people are talking about mental illness. We didn’t get taught about it in school and it just added to the feeling of it being really shameful. The more stories I read the more I realise this is just a normal part of life. I’m still on antidepressants now and I’d like to be off them one day, but for now I’ve accepted that they help me live my life.