My name is May Gabriel and I’m 19.
When I was 14 I started suffering from depression. I knew what depression was; I had heard the misjudged preconceptions, but as a 14-year old I really had little clue what was happening to me. I started self-harming and sleeping an awful lot, I went to the doctors and had blood tests but everything came out pretty much normal. I was very secretive about it all, I became very quiet at school and went very much into my own little world.
In late March 2010 I first attempted suicide, this part of my life is still blurry, but in the beginning of April, I was admitted into an adolescent psychiatric unit. I was petrified, I had never spent this much time alone in my life, and I was still pretty young, all knowledge I had of psychiatric hospitals were from horror movies and I assumed it was all big metal doors and straight jackets. Still to this day I can’t remember the exact reason why I tried to kill myself, there wasn’t a particular trigger I don’t think, I think it was a feeling that had been building up for a while and I couldn’t stand the darkness I was in any longer. My first admission lasted until June 2010 when I was discharged. In hindsight, I think I was most probably discharged too early….
In October 2010 I was admitted for a second time into that same hospital, I (again) cannot remember why. For me, when I am at my lowest, I don’t tend to remember what happens. I become so engulfed in this darkness that I am barely able to function. By this time I was 15, and I had an idea of what to expect at a hospital. I found this second time that the hospital wasn’t the right place for me, and I found trusting some of the staff really difficult. I took an overdose in the hospital, and again I was very engulfed in my depression. My second admission was probably my hardest, I knew the system and I found it really frustrating. Everything got took to long to get done, and there was this internal hierarchy that I find lots of patients who have been to an adolescent unit find. I was discharged from the hospital in February 2011. From February 2011 I started attending the college I am still attending today. The college took me on at a strange time and enabled me to complete 3 of my GCSE’s: Maths, English and Geography. I think me being able to get back into education quickly enabled me to focus on that and try to move forward. I was very lucky in finding education so quickly after missing so much, some people are not so lucky and this is one of the things that MUST CHANGE!
In May and July 2011 two of my close friends that I had made in hospital passed away from suicide. This was very tough for all of us, and during that time many of my friends went back into hospitals to keep them safe. I, myself, continued with my exams and managed to stay out of hospital, focusing on practically helping sort out other peoples issues rather than my own. This mean, I never really had time to grieve for the deaths of my two friends..
In late 2011 I decided to set up the It’s Ok Campaign as I felt something needed to be done. People needed to TALK more about mental health and Speak Up! No one should have to suffer in silence any more, and no one should feel ashamed about their depression, it’s an illness and it can be helped. I felt people needed to be educated in the matter, and it was something that needed to be taken seriously, both in schools and the community. After losing my two friends I realised that death is so final, and everything should be done to prevent suicide.
In April 2012 I was admitted for a third time in the same hospital, this admission was the shortest, it lasted about 5 weeks. I was admitted just before my 17th birthday. This last admission I wasn’t helped particularly, I felt I was a fake and no one was really taking me seriously, but for me, it gave me the chance to grieve. The chance I hadn’t given myself the year before. I also found that as people get older the system becomes harder and harder to deal with, and if you don’t have someone by your side to help fight for you (My mum!) it’s very easy to get lost in the system.
Now, I have just finished my GCSE’s, and am continuing with my A levels, I’m a year behind but finally, I have gotten here!
All in all; there are a lot of things that need to change in regards to mental health, both within the wider community and within the mental health system itself. The stigma needs to be broken down, people need to be educated, schools need to be aware of the signs of depression.
I hope this campaign is helping achieve some of these things..