By Malou Schack Stitz
I’m coming out…
… Not in a sexual orientation way. But as to what I’ve realised about myself lately. Clue: I hit rock BOTTOM last year!!! And it’s probably one of the best things that could happen to me. It has literally changed my life in so many ways.
I was a student at SCA 2 years ago – the Fat Penguin intake. And like many other people it was a very rough year for me. But little did I know just HOW rough it was. I wasn’t listening to myself. Nor my body.
To take you to the beginning. I kinda just made a quick decision one evening, whilst sitting in Denmark, my home country, with a glass of good red wine, thinking to myself ‘Hmm, there’s gotta be more options for me out there’. A quick Google search later and I had applied to the School of Communication Arts 2.0.
Things happened, and a few months later, I got the phone call from Marc. I was in! OMG!!!
I never truly planned for this. I’d actually never really wanted to move abroad. I’ve travelled all over the world from Israel to Singapore to New Zealand, and I love it. But moving…. Now that’s a completely different matter. Anyhow, the decision was made, I found a tenant for my flat and off I went.
A warm summer day in August 2016 I officially became a student as SCA. It was all exciting and weird and wonderful to begin with. Only thing was…
… my happy bubble broke after just a month.
I woke up one morning and I literally couldn’t have dairy or gluten no more. I mean WHAT? I’ve never been allergic to anything before. That made my life a little bit more difficult but nothing that I couldn’t handle. The year went by, and after starting at my first placement I discovered that I could eat dairy and gluten again. YAAAAY! But also.. How weird, right? Again, remember I wasn’t listening to myself or what my body was trying so desperately to tell me.
As the months went by I managed to land myself a job in a startup business as their design and marketing executive. It all sounds pretty chill, right? Except at no time did I ask myself….. ‘Jeez Louise, is this really what you want’? I could feel that my mood was low all the time, and my self esteem went down as well. However, I just kept on going cause that’s what you do. Now, to give it some perspective; I didn’t grow up in a house where things like divorce, feelings etc. were discussed. So I had no idea how to really express how down I was feeling, and little did I understand about it either.
The months went by and it got worse and worse, which forced me to finally go see my GP.
I didn’t talk about how I was feeling for very long before my GP had come to a conclusion.
I was clearly suffering from depression, anxiety and stress. And he’d suggest that I got some antidepressant medicine straight away. I was desperate to feel happy again, to feel like I wasn’t trapped inside a big grey mush of fog. The pills took the edge of things, but I’d still get regularly panic attacks, thinking the darkest of dark things, I lost my appetite for the first time ever in my life and I lost a little over 9 stones in just a few months. I was down to a very unhealthy weight as I didn’t exactly have those 9 stones to lose to begin with.
Now, I’ve spend hours and hours researching what I was feeling and why. As I had no idea what was going on, and that it wasn’t normal to be feeling like this, I’d like to put some light into how it feels, so that if you’re struggling as well, you’ll know that you’re not alone, and that it’s not normal to feel like this.
I’ve come to learn that I’ve probably been depressed for most of my life. Since I was around 9 or 10. Ouch! That hurts to find out. It’s only gotten worse over the years as I never, ever understood what was going on, and therefore I wasn’t able to express myself or even realise that something wasn’t OK. When you have these thoughts for so many years, they become normal to you. They’re part of your personality just like the colour of your eyes.
When I hit rock bottom last year, it started with me feeling anxious all the time. I didn’t wanted to come into work, I didn’t wanted to have 121’s with my (very unsympathetic) manager.
It took all of my strength to get up in the morning.
I suffered from insomnia and would wake up every night after only a few hours of “sleep”. I had lost my appetite.
Picking up something from the floor seemed like an impossible task.
I felt like a failure. I felt like I was losing it. I even started to feel unreal – the so called depersonalisation symptom.
I’d picture myself dying all the time like if a bus went past me, I could see it all happening from above. I’d see how my limps and insides would be all over the place, I could taste blood in my mouth. I’d see how the police would arrive, and I’d panic if I couldn’t remember if I’d brought my ID with me that day.
I’d cry over everything and nothing.
I’d have heart palpitations.
I’d jump seriously 1000 feet if a car used the horn nearby, or if there was a sudden noise – things I’ve never been sensitive to before.
I felt like I didn’t deserve to have a voice. To have an opinion, amongst many other symptoms.
I didn’t tell anyone about all of this.
I shared nothing but a fake facade.
I simply felt like I was finally going completely mad.
Until I got help. Just before Christmas, I quit my job with no plan b. And not really any support as I, again, didn’t share these feelings with anyone. Anyhow, forward to today, and I’ve finally started therapy (literally this week), and it’s the best thing ever. After just one session I feel more “safe”. I know that all the things I’ve been feeling and thinking for all of these years were down to a mental disorder that can and will be treated! I’ve also managed to learn how to listen to myself, and that has made me change my career path so that it now fits what I am TRULY passionate about. It’s got little to do with advertising, but I’m still using a lot of what I learned at SCA. And for the first time probably ever, I feel very excited about the future.
I’m still suffering from time to time. Bad days feels like something black, dark and utterly overwhelming has swallowed me whole.
But on good days my head feels clear, I’m optimistic and full of energy. These days are worth gold because they give me hope.
I’ve finally started to listen to my body and my mind, and now I’m making decisions for me and not for everyone else.
E pi l o g u e
Please, if you can relate to some of these symptoms, do not hesitate to seek help. You’re far from alone in this. It’s NOT okay to feel like this and it can be treated.
This is a very personal blog post and I’m anxious about releasing this SCAB to the public. But had other people not shared their experiences, then I wouldn’t have been able to find as many answers as I did, and then I’d probably still walk around in my very, very dark bubble.
All the best, M