My story is a tangled web of sad experiences and bad decisions.
I am a sensitive person perhaps highly sensitive. I get hurt easily. Every well-meaning remark that was not compassionate, every moment when my parents weren’t emotionally available, every time I felt embarrassed… left a little painful tear in my emotional veil.
When I was a tween, I found the only way to cope and regulate the pain. I found skin picking.
I don’t mean carefully squeezing a zit out. I am talking torturous and painful battle against every little mark and bump on my body. Often I was left red, bleeding and swollen. I didn’t see myself in the mirror. I saw blackheads, whiteheads, bumps and uneven surfaces that needed to be perfected. I spent hours every day in front of a mirror killing boredom, calming myself down, procrastinating, taking revenge for my shortcomings, achieving perfection…
Fifteen years forward I still didn’t ditch this habit. Habit, OCD, addiction, call it what you want. I carry my emotional scars for everyone to see. On my face, on my chest and shoulders. All over my body.
I had many days throughout the years when I couldn’t leave my house. I felt inadequate, not worthy, ugly. In the culture obsessed with beauty and beautiful skin, I felt like a recluse. I didn’t want to bother people to look at something so disturbing as my skin was. I could never visit a beautician. I could never leave a house without makeup.
Nobody talks about skin-picking. It’s pretty taboo but unlike cutting, it’s relatively socially acceptable. And yet I received many unsolicited pieces of advice and comments regarding my skin. I felt hurt and shamed. Every. Single. Time.
Due to life circumstances I got depressed in my early twenties. It’s been about seven years now. Depression invigorated my OCD even more, and I was caught in perpetuated self-loathing. I isolated myself.
When the pain was too much to bear, I decided to see a GP. I informed her about my tiredness and concern about depression. What followed was the most painful experience in my life. The doctor didn’t bat her eye, didn’t look away from her computer screen, didn’t ask any questions. She stated, she will not prescribe me antidepressants and send me to an herbal shop. I left her office devastated and traumatized. I decided to deal with depression alone. It was a really bad decision, and the depression got a lot worse over the years.
I never stop thinking what would my life be like if I got the help I needed that time. At the same time, I am one of the lucky ones. Many people, that struggle with their mental health, go to a doctor. Many of them who don’t receive any help, decide for the imminent and irreversible.
After that, I moved to a different country where I was even more isolated. I couldn’t get a job, and I was and still am financially dependent on my partner. Lack of social interactions, language barrier, and the constant financial struggle got me to the point of laying in the bed for weeks and thinking about suicide.
I went to see a doctor again. Different country. Different doctor. The exact same outcome. No questions, no further investigation. This time, I was prompted to get a part time job, get out of the house… As if it was so simple. As if my lack of motivation, my low capacity to keep focused and learn anything new, was just me being lazy and incompetent.
This time, I left the office laughing. It wasn’t funny, but there was nothing else that I could do. I had no money to get a therapy, and I had no idea where else to go for help.
I took things into my own hands and started to learn about depression. I’ve incorporated many healthy habits into my life and changed many things.
Recently two of the most rewarding things have happened to me. Rescuing a dog and fostering another, and starting a blog about the things I’ve learned. Shifting my focus from my own suffering in order to help others, even if it is just one person or just one dog, is a big deal to me.
In the past few months, my mental health has improved quite a bit and my OCD is under control in a way that it’s never been before.
Although my life will never be the same as pre-depression, I find solace in sharing my story and knowing I’m not alone. It gives me strength and courage to battle on through the darkness.