Guest Post #1

Mental health awareness wasn't something that was majorly part of my life up until a few years ago. Depression was a word I had heard but never really had to think about. Shortly after my junior cert, that changed. When my dad became depressed, it hit me hard. My relationship with him really faltered quite considerably, and we had constant fights over nothing. When it began, I didn't know what was wrong with him, and neither did he. We fought non-stop and yelled at each other a lot. I found myself hating him, and I couldn't wait to leave home. We always had clashing personalities so when things first started to escalate I just thought I was hormonal or he was stressed, I never suspected what was really happening.

I remember exactly when it got really to breaking point. He was watching TV and I was on the couch near him typing on my laptop. The noise of the typing aggravated him so much that he yelled at me. I went to bed crying that night, not for the first or last time. Soon after that, he went to get help. When my mam told me that the doctor said my dad was depressed, I was a little shocked. As I said, depression wasn't something I'd had to deal with and I didn't know what this meant, but I was scared as heck! I was worried and guilty, and I felt so sorry for him, but I was relieved too - I now knew there was some hope in the distance, and that our bad relationship wouldn't last forever. Things got a little better from then on. I confided in a friend, who really helped me. I felt awkward talking to my mam about it, but I spoke to my aunt from time to time. I was in Transition Year at this stage, and things were really looking up. My mam offered to get counselling for me, but I declined. By the start of fifth year, everything was pretty much back to normal. We still fought from time to time, but definitely not as often as before, and not over such stupid things.

I don't know what triggered it, but Christmas 2011 was awful. My Dad got worse again and he was moody, angry and picking fights with everyone, especially me. My mam and I went to talk to my aunt, and she gave us a lot of guidance. I know a lot of teenagers have issues with religion, but to be honest it really helped me during that time.There's no exact date I can pinpoint that I can say everything got better again. My dad still has his off-days, and we do fight from time to time, but neither of us is in the dark place of the past. I absolutely love him, and he is the best dad a girl could ask for!

One of the things I struggled with about my dad being depressed was the stigma. I'll admit, I was embarrassed to tell people what was wrong with him, and it sickens me that society is taking so long to come around. If a parent (or anyone else) has cancer or a heart condition or diabetes people sympathise and understand, but depression is much harder for people to get their heads around. When someone is depressed, it's just as scary and just as upsetting. There's uncertainty and fear and worry. There are countless nights of tears there's doesn't matter that you can't see it on an x-ray or in a blood test! Since my dad first got diagnosed, so much has been done to reduce the stigma with mental health, but it's still so taboo in our world. I really hope this changes and soon, because mental health is just as important (if not more important) than every other type of health, and stigmatising people whose mental health is suffering only drags them down. I will always support positive mental health, and any efforts made to reduce the stigma against it, because when you're in there, when you or a loved one is suffering, the importance of it really hits home. 

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