Me

Last Year I Was Pretty Depressed

I cried a lot in 2012 – FAR more than my normal cry-quota allowance for a typical year. No one died, thankfully, but I did feel loss, estrangement and despair. In fact, I wanted to die and had convinced my foolish little self that I was headed directly to Suicide City.

All my problems with life merged into one, big, Godzilla of a problem. For one, I was 23 and single. Two, I had a job I loathed to the point where I’d wake up in the morning and mock-curse that I hadn’t died in my sleep. Three, I didn’t want to be in Ireland anymore – all my close friends are away in Korea, Edinburgh and Spain, and some of those friends and myself have already lost touch. It depressed me.

Best friend away travelling.
Ninatron (stripe dress) and new friends in South Korea.

But I didn’t self-harm or drink, or do drugs to compensate for my loneliness. No. I’m too frightened of the heavy stuff. You might be breathing a sigh of relief at this, but it left me hating myself even more; I’m such a fucking spa, I can’t even do out-of-control well enough. I had and still have huge confidence issues. It goes all the way back to my mother scolding me for something and getting impatient with me when I stammered, and to my time in secondary school where I let the fat kid bully me and the hot guy spit on me. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from those years.

So in 2012 when I undertook my MA in journalism I was struck down with anxiety at having to deal with the fact that I truly saw myself as a good-for-nothing, never-gonna-make-it, idiot. I had convinced myself I couldn’t write, couldn’t do a tap. But the years of toiling away stacking shelves and confronting horrible customers daily spurred me on to apply to DIT. To this day I still think trying to write, even if the outcome of my soul searching is shit, is better than offing myself. Wouldn’t you agree? (I should hope so!)

Me looking into a camera sternly.
The look of love. And my profiler for much of 2012. I like it because it was taken in Bristol, at ATP, a place that was a game changer March 2012.

In January of last year I sought out my college counsellor. I couldn’t digest my food and I had lost a bit too much weight for my liking. I also felt queasy much of the time. We talked about my issues with retail, the bullying I’ve received from a number of people over the years, the fact that I hate myself for being so nice, why I’m afraid to travel, and why after falling in love for the first time, the rejection nearly killed me. We made it through six months of me crying. I always left her office bin piled high with tissue.

Fast forward to winter 2012:

  • I finished my dissertation on female journalists in conflict zones, an unplanned feminist analysis of wimmin in war zones.
  • I got moved to another department in work because I told my HR manager (err, broke down and blubbered to her seems more accurate) I just couldn’t take life anymore if she didn’t help me out.
  • I realised that if you fall in love with someone in an instant it’s pretty likely you’ll fall out of love with them eventually.

By December I had made great efforts to move on. I left my retail job of nearly five years, and moved to SpunOut towers in Temple Bar. SpunOut is a youth charity dedicated to empowering 16-25 year olds. It seemed like a job I not only wanted, but personally needed. The different work environment is unlike any other place I’ve heard of; shared management, everyone needs to get on this.

My name is Aileen Donegan, I’m a sub-editor for SpunOut. Well, this statement sent my heart racing in a way that made me so thankful I’m still alive.

Photo of me at my new desk in work.
Strategically placed award next to me pretending I don’t know there’s a photo being taken of me.

It took me such a long time to realise just how depressed I had been. I didn’t realise it when I walked through the aisles of Dunnes Stores numbed between the ears. I didn’t realise it when I got too drunk at a party and told the nearest human being how much I longed to kill myself but couldn’t muster up the confidence to do it. I didn’t realise it when I went to a job interview lackluster and morose because that guy I fell in love with – and barely speak to now –  took me seriously when I said (in a fit of drama) “I don’t think we should talk anymore.”

I didn’t realise how depressed I had been until now, in January 2013, when I feel the happiest I have ever felt because I found a counsellor who helped, and got a job I love.

Here’s to a great 2013, lads.

Samaritans
TeenLine Ireland
SpunOut

12 thoughts on “Last Year I Was Pretty Depressed

  1. Great article.

    I am 2 months into counselling from a similiar situation, depression, anxiety and non-existent self esteem, I can already notice improvements (even people around me have commented) in the way I handle life and it’s nice to read a positive experience.

    Theres lots I can relate to, I didnt even realise that there was anything wrong until I left college and started working away from home, only then it dawned on me what happened and just how bad I let things slip. While I regret the late realisation I understand that I had to numb myself this way simply to get through the day. I do wonder sometimes how nobody in my life ever tried to help, maybe they just thought thats how I was but I don’t think anyone naturally just turns from a happy child to a fearful and unhappy teenager/adult,

    I suppose when you realise that there is something wrong and you have a willingness to get help, it’s a good sign that you want to and will recover. Anyone who has been unhappy in themselves for a significant amount of time should really give counselling a go and try to be as open and honest as possible.

  2. I think you’re really beautiful and talented. I’m glad you’ve made it through the rough times I know what it’s like to have dark days. Wish there was more love in this world and less hate so you hadn’t been so hurt in the first place

  3. Thanks for the kind words. Didn’t expect such a huge reception. I can’t advocate counselling enough.

    It takes a lot to admit you’re unhappy and do something about it. There’s no shame in seeking help.

    In Ireland last year there was so much in the mainstream media about suicide, particularly surrounding young people. We need a kick up the backside here with regard to dealing with mental health.

    It’s okay to not be okay – it’s not weird or attention-seeking to admit to yourself and others that you’re overwhelmed. Do it, deal with it and move past it.

  4. I felt that I went through similar issues to you in the past including bullying and the resulting lack of self confidence and contemplation of suicide.

    I too moved past it and found a job I love, and people I can relate to. I’m happy for you and that you’ve addressed your problems and moved forward :)

  5. Hiya!
    Congratulations on everything! And you will get over those horrible experiences. I did. I will say it took me till my late 20s but I am no longer angry at anyone and I am pretty happy iny skin. Keep going.

  6. Hi from the other side of the world. Life takes us on many twists and turns at times that I can appreciate where you are coming from. I went through a stressful year myself last year where my heart was involved in more than it could chew. But like you I am still here and I learning about myself more and enjoying the time I have now. I stumbled on your blog tonight by chance as I had just done a review on Marie Colvin and I am pleased to have popped by. This post is great, its real, its authentic and shows you have the courage to face it like it is. I am in my late 30′s now and you know… you just gotta keep breathing, smelling the air and moving. Like the blogger above says “Keep going” and as we say here in New Zealand “Kia Kaha” Keep strong! :-D

  7. Thanks so much Kiwigal007. It was tough going for a while last year, but 2013 is proving to be much better; I’m taking more risks in my personal and professional life and it’s making all the difference. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Last Year I Was Pretty Depressed
    Posted on January 31, 2013 by AILEEN DONEGAN
    My depression is a complete disaster.This year my mind is all over the place. I’ll say no more.

    1. I hope you feel better. There’s nothing worse. At least from your comment you seem to know that your head ‘is all over the place’, you can work on it from there. It would probably be 10 times worse for you if you weren’t aware of that fact.

      Get well soon.

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