Through My Eyes – Finding the strength to carry on

I am not ok, but I will be. Now that I have been saved, now that this is no longer a burden I am bearing alone, I know this is a battle I will win.

Fionnuala Moran is a Commnications student in DCU and is recovering from a severe anxiety disorder. Here, she tells her story.

For ten years I tried tirelessly to drown myself in distractions and constant company. Running from myself – a race of which the result is inevitable failure. You cannot outrun what is running within you and no matter how hard I tried to repress a series of afflictive events in my childhood, suppression was never going to be a successful solution. For the last decade I have been actively self-destructive. I threw away talents and pushed people away, never felt I deserved any of the good, love or success that came my way.

I developed trichotillomania as a coping mechanism to deal with the mass amounts of anxiety inflicted upon me as a result of the traumas I experienced as a child. This condition caused me to pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows, somewhat subconsciously, as a relief mechanism. I looked like a chemo patient from the age of nine. I was bullied because of this and, in turn, became a bully. I am sincerely sorry to anyone I ever put down. It was a defence mechanism for my own vulnerability and in no way a reflection on your selves.

As a child, my hurt manifested itself in anger but then I discovered eyeliner and that changed: with it, I could look normal. I could paint myself a face: put on a public persona, a separate self in which I could be a carefree me for a while, devoid of my demons. Those demons pushed me to death’s door in fourth year. But as far as I fled, they refused to be outrun. Divine intervention saved me then but the race continued. In 5th and 6th year I lost myself in love and poured every ounce of me into it. It allowed me to ignore myself for that time. There was so much healing in that but it could not undo what had happened to me, only distract me for a time.

As 6th year drew to a close, so did all my safety nets. I threw myself into work all summer, saving for the funeral I had so beautifully planned. When I wasn’t in work I drank to such extents that I was lost to the world, trying to evade myself entirely. My debs were to be my final goodbye to everyone and it was one of the best nights of my life – made better by knowing that my suffering would soon cease. The process was put off temporarily as I tried tirelessly to make those memorable farewells. But my facade of being fine was wearing ever thinner and I eventually gave up trying to say the perfect goodbyes.

It is so easy to be ultimately reckless when you care little for the repercussions it will have on your life, whether you live or die. Where others would feel fear, you become entirely unphased. You are not afraid of death and you care not for the continuation of your life. It’s a miracle in itself that I did not die as a result of my sheer recklessness. My angels have been working overtime.

I now weigh less than I did in primary school. I was emaciated, a shadow of the self that began to disintegrate deathwards this time last year. Some say suicide is selfish and, yes, for those distraught by its wake it can be hard to find logic or justice in it.

I was saved from a point where so few are lucky enough to be saved from. I made desperate pleas for help that went unanswered: “don’t be stupid Fionnuala, you’re strong you’ll be grand”. Depression is not a sign of weakness it is a sign that you’ve been too strong for too long.

When I finally could not cope anymore, the one I loved and reached out to had been too hurt by the way in which it had possessed me to help, and too uneducated to realise the state of utter desperation I was in. The health services failed me again, as they had in fourth year, with a series of misdiagnoses. Into each I poured my hope, trying so hard to get better but left bleaker than before. They never dealt with the underlying issues, which I buried so deeply, that they could not, without extensive excavation, be found.

My friend ultimately helped save my life. In their willingness to just listen, a gift so simple yet so powerful that the deceptive darkness which had convinced me it was to be my entire life and was in turn going to end my life, was cracked. The power to play god rests in each of our hands and there are saints walking among us.

Depression needs to be discussed on the same level as any other illness. It manifests itself differently in each and every person, but hopefully you find yourself enlightened as to how manipulative a medical condition it can be. If you ever find yourself in any amount of despair, please talk about it. Confide in someone who will care, no matter how well. Admitting to yourself that something is wrong is the hardest step of all.

Depression is a cruel and callous disease by how it can possess a person. I woke up in my worst nightmare when I began to get better. Remember: your thoughts are not facts. Always remember that. If they were, I’d be dead. I’m not.

Fionnuala Moran

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