‘I weighed more when I was nine years old’: What’s like to have depression in final year

I survived on a diet of cigarettes and energy drinks

Three months before my final year exams I was diagnosed with severe clinical-depression. It could not have come at a worse time. I was going crazy with suicidal thoughts and I thought that finally after years of on-off depression I needed to consult with a professional. One in four students in the UK suffer mental health problems. I turned out to be one of them.

I lived in student accommodation during the first two years of university. In the third I moved into private accommodation with a friend. At least with student accommodation even if you did not have many friends, there were always people around to keep the atmosphere lively and to have a smoke with.

To say private accommodation was a disaster for my psyche is an understatement. It was in a dodgy area, where I would have to commute 40 minutes every day to Central London. After two months my flatmate decided to move out so I was all alone. I would wake up to the sound of families fighting at 3am in the morning. I would get groped on my way home at night.

Final year of university is loaded with pressure. I was getting nowhere with job applications. Getting rejection after rejection. I was ridden with anxiety, especially since I was funded completely by my parents, and they had great expectations of me flourishing once I graduated.

On top of that, my relationships with people were dysfunctional in particular with an ex-boyfriend boyfriend whose parting words to me were “You know, I told my friends you were a 7/10”.

On top of that, when I decided to give friendship a chance with him he said about my antidepressants, “Why are you taking those? You don’t need them! Those are for losers.”

In November, the fighting started. By January I was bed-ridden most days, scared to leave my house because of my malnourished state – through my diet of only cigarettes and energy drinks – and phobia of interacting with people.

When I eventually went back to my parents place and weighed myself on a scale, my jaw dropped. 40kg. I weighed more when I was nine years old.

Initially I was prescribed a three months course of antidepressants. It worked some days, and some days it just gave me nauseating side effects. Although I had thought of deferring, I managed to sit my exams.

But what I learnt most is it’s best to let people in. The biggest realisation for me was that I could not go through this alone. I really focused on who was healthy for me and who was toxic. My friend held my hand while I was at the GP. Those are the people who gave me the strength to sit my finals.

After this realisation I went out and bought some food, and made a goal for myself to cook at least two meals a week. This increased my weight.

It would be a lie to say that I have recovered completely. Every day is different for me. Sometimes I believe I haven’t healed at all, and am still at rock bottom. Other days I can’t even remember what I was depressed about. Yet the recovery for depression is a slow, gradual process.

There is no happy pill. Usually there are several factors that need to be changed in order to recover. But I can go out now. I am not tired all the time. I can laugh and smile at jokes, and be able to say no to harmful people. That is my biggest lesson and what I will take away from university the most.