Suzie Jones* was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2009 when she was 15. Since she was young Suzie has been attending counseling sessions and taking anti-depressants. Suzie tried to take her own life twice before telling her family about her depression. Many issues contributed to her depression, but with support from her friends and family she has battled her illness and has not taken anti-depressants for two years.
What mental health condition were you diagnosed with?
I was diagnosed with clinical depression, but it was a severe case of depression.
When were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed in 2009 when I was 15 and still at secondary school.
What do you believe contributed to your condition?
I was raped when I was younger by someone I knew. I also believed that I didn’t belong with my family. While at school I had no friends and was bullied for the whole time.
In 2011 my great grandmother died who was like my best friend, so that event in my life also contributed.
Also, my low self esteem and low confidence in myself [contributed to the depression].
How long did it take you to seek professional assistance?
I was already having counseling at school since the age of 11. It took me about four years of counseling for me to go get medical help. I only took medical advice because I said I wanted to kill myself.
Which form of treatment worked best for you?
The most effective treatment for me was anti-depressants. I did however continue with my counseling and I attended a self-esteem course.
Did your friends and family support you through your treatment? Who supported you the most?
When I finally did tell my family and friends I was already 16 and had tried to kill myself twice. When I did tell them the most supportive person was my mum. She helped me fill out a depression form and was horrified to hear that I wanted to die and I had already tried [to take my life].
Did you ever feel like people didn’t completely understand your condition?
I felt like my family didn’t quite understand my condition even though my dad had been diagnosed two years before I had. It took my family a while to completely understand, but as time went on it got better. They were a bit nervous around me, which didn’t help with me not fitting with my family but it got better over the months.
Were you ever made to feel guilty or selfish in regards to your condition?
I wouldn’t say I was ever made to feel guilty or selfish, although I did feel it. I felt like my family was too scared or nervous to do anything with me in case it upset me or made my depression worse. They were always aware if I wanted to injure myself.
How do you feel now? Has your condition improved or worsened?
My condition has got so much better; I haven’t been on anti–depressants for about two years now. I still sometimes feel depressed and I wonder if maybe I should go back on them. But I never do because it means that I would be going back to how I used to be and my life is so much better now.
Why do you believe this is the case?
My condition got better because I spoke the truth about who I am and who I was. I met my girlfriend and she cared and listened to me. I finally came out as gay and felt like this massive relief has been taken off my shoulders. My Nan dying was horrible but I finally accepted it was her time because she was 91.
I thought my life was terrible but the only issue was that I wasn’t truthful about who I was.
Do you believe that there needs to be more mental illness awareness initiatives?
Yes I believe so, I only found out due to my dad’s depression and also reading up about it on the internet.
What advice would you give to someone going through what you went through?
Injuring yourself isn’t the answer, it never is. Think about what you want in your life and what you’re not getting in it now. Please, please seek medical help and don’t feel like you have to do this on your own. Tell your family or friends and let them help you.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My life is so much better that I’m no longer depressed, my life is now clean and I now know what my goals in life are.
*Name changed at the request of the interviewee
If you or someone close to you is dealing with depression or contemplating suicide, please consider calling a hotline or visiting one of the websites listed below.
Lifeline 24 hour crisis support -13 11 14
Suicide Prevention Foundation (24/7) – 1800 HOLD ON (1800 465 366)
Suicide Callback – 1300 659 467 in every State (available 24 hours a day)