Jessica’s Story

I was diagnosed with depression in 2009 when I was 18 – but I’m sure I had it for at least a year before then. Depression runs in both sides of my family and two extended family members have committed suicide.

Leading up to my diagnosis I was studying year eleven and battling severe eczema. It covered my whole body and I was sore and uncomfortable every day. It kept me awake at night and made showering painful. My self esteem was very low and I ended up leaving school at the end of year eleven because I couldn’t cope with the stress of tertiary studies even though I was getting good grades.

I started a trainee-ship in business administration and managed to tolerate my eczema for another twelve months. Throughout that time I was having mood swings; I stopped hanging out with friends and would go straight to bed when I got home from work. I hated the sight of myself and cried myself to sleep a lot. My Mum would tell me that there were people worse off than me and I tried to think that way and be grateful for what I had, but it didn’t work and I felt guilty for the way I felt.

A couple of weeks leading up to my diagnosis, my boyfriend went off to the army, which was a huge shock to the system for me as he was what helped me cope. Just after that my horse died. It was a very distressing situation, I was on my own with a very sick horse, struggling to keep her standing, I realised just how bad she was when she almost collapsed on me.

I suddenly found myself without the two things that kept me busy and had a breakdown. My Mum took me to the doctor and blamed herself for not picking up on the symptoms earlier as her own mother has depression and schizophrenia. I was prescribed antidepressants, sent to a psychologist and hospitalised for my eczema.

A few months later I went off my medication and applied for the defence force. The recruiting psychologist said I would need to be off my medication for twelve months before I could be enlisted. So I went away, worked on my fitness and stayed off my my medication. I went back twelve months later, only to be rejected because of a couple of eczema spots on my arm. I then relapsed, went back on my medication and went to see a great counsellor.

I moved to Townsville in October 2011 to be with my partner after two years of being apart. It was the first major decision I had made in a long time. I am currently not on medication as like many, the side effect of low libido was affecting my relationship. I mostly try to combat my feelings with regular exercise and keeping busy.

I found Hand Up on the Black Dog Institute website and almost didn’t end up coming but am so glad that I did. Being able to vent to people who know what I am experiencing is an enormous help and I look forward to coming to Hand Up every week.