Story Submission by Ross, Age 19
In early 2012 I went to Brisbane to stay with my brother for a month, as something of a holiday over the Christmas period. A few days before we left home, I had started noticing bouts of shortness of breath and an impending feeling, but I couldn’t quite explain it.
For the first week or two, everything was fine until one night I found I wasn’t able to fall asleep, but I put it down to too much caffeine and excitement on that day.
This continued on for the following days, getting an hour of sleep at maximum per night. As you can imagine, things began to get weird for me. I was convinced i was going to die. I could feel my heart racing, my chest tightening up and that shortness of breath again. I would later learn that these were anxiety attacks.
After speaking to my parents on the phone, we decided that I should go to a doctor. My brother took the next day off work and accompanied me. The doctor prescribed me anxiety medication to help me to sleep and advised me to visit my doctor at home.
Now, for those who haven’t been prescribed anxiety medication before, let me tell you that it sucks. I would take a pill before i went to bed and had zero recollection of anything from that point until I woke up the next morning (or afternoon).
Life became something of a blur for the following weeks until I arrived back home and saw my doctor, who recommended I stop taking the anxiety medication, which is easier said than done, and instead referred me to a psychologist.
After a few sessions with the psychologist I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders and was given mood regulators and anti-depressants. The rest of 2012 was virtually a write-off. I had already dropped out of school, and stopped going to TAFE. I was drinking heavily, and took a dead-end job at a pizza shop, before leaving that to work at a car dealership.
That brings us to 2013. I found myself steadily becoming more reclusive as my friends began to enter university, acquire apprenticeships and get themselves on track, while I was still working a crappy retail job and hating myself.
Mid-2013 I began smoking _________, combined with the heavy drinking. I wanted more than anything to just feel something. I began ________ as feeling pain was better than feeling nothing at all.
2013 was, again, virtually a write-off. I remember little to nothing of the last half of it.
In early 2014, one night after work, I broke down and attempted to ______ again. It seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel for me, so I decided that there was no point in continuing. I sobered up somewhat midway through the year and in tears went and confessed everything to my father. I cannot thank him enough for how supportive he was.
The next day I visited my doctor, and explained what was happening. My prescription for medication was modified and I was placed on a waiting list for another psychologist. This was only a few weeks ago and, while i still have a long way to go, on re-reading this I feel like the light at the end of the tunnel may be in sight and things will actually get better. I know for a fact that I feel better now than I did this time in 2012. Well, more stable at least.
I’m not sure if this will help anyone, but I guess I just needed to get it all out there. Thank you for reading.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm or addiction, please reach out. Call 13 11 14 for Lifeline’s 24hr Telephone Crisis Support or contact a mental health professional. If you are looking for other mental health resources, browse our Find Help page.
If a life is in danger call 000 immediately.