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When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with major depression

1

I stood in an empty hospital corridor, the ceiling and walls were plain white. There was a long guard rail beyond the one-meter-high long corridor handrail.

At that time I still had my spirit and thought mischievously, “This is probably to prevent patients from being impulsive.” And the family was standing not far away, discussing whether to examine me more thoroughly.

I was eventually diagnosed with depression, when I was 14 years old.

Walking into a shiny white room, a nurse sat at a computer. My aunt handed her my chart, and the nurse turned her face after telling my aunt to get out. The pleasant face was wrinkled: “Do you know how to use a mouse?”

I nodded and sat down in front of the big-headed computer that was so old that I began my first depression assessment questionnaire.

“Have you felt sleep deprived lately? (Recently means within two weeks)”

The options were “never,” “occasionally,” “sometimes,” “often,” and ” Always”. This was the first question I saw, and it was a lot different from the psychometric test that came with the magazine.

I recalled six months of tossing and turning and put a check in the “always” column. The monitor jumped and a new interface came up. The second question was: Have you recently experienced a loss of interest and a feeling of unhappiness? After a moment’s hesitation, I chose the “often” option.

“Do you feel unable to concentrate and have difficulty focusing on one thing?”

“Do you have a lower self-esteem?”

“Do you often have a sense of self-sin or worthlessness?”

“Think the future is bleak and pessimistic?”

“Want to commit (or have tried) suicide or self-injury?”

“Feel like your thinking is slow or your speech is slow?”

“Sometimes feel dry mouth, hiccups, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal cramps, heart palpitations, hyperventilation, sighing, headaches, frequent urination, sweating?”

……

I was so confused by the successive questionnaires that I could only remember the names of “Hamilton,” “depression,” “anxiety,” and “self-assessment” written on the header of each questionnaire, and I couldn’t even remember the choices I had just made, so I had to think about each one and answer it as I saw fit.

During the short consultation, the doctor didn’t seem to care about what my pain was exactly. He stared at me, then looked down and quickly wrote something on a piece of paper.

About half an hour later, the doctor called my aunt in to talk. She came out with the diagnosis report in her hand, which probably read something like this: moderate anxiety and major depression.

Once again, I went in. The doctor who saw me was actually quite old, wearing a white coat and presenting a very relaxed physique in an office with greenery. He looked at me calmly, without too much sadness or sympathy, as if this was a normal thing in his career.

He asked me a few more quick questions, and then there was a knock on the door. A middle-aged couple hid outside the door and poked their heads in shyly, and the doctor gestured for me to leave.

In the hospital corridor, I thought I heard someone screaming at the top of their lungs.

I had a sense of cut-off. I had a clear sense that I was different from them all. Not like the family, not like the nurses, not like the family, not like the person in the wheelchair over there screaming. I didn’t know who I was.

2

In elementary school, I exhibited some of the symptoms of social phobia: fear of being born, lack of bravery, and fear of speaking in front of a crowd.

Only because I hadn’t been particularly well since birth, these panics and fears were interpreted by my family as a small, forgivable panic. They greeted my class teacher, hoping to give me enough encouragement and support.

By that time my moods were not very stable, sometimes suddenly deteriorating or frightened by an overly aggressive teacher or a conjoined dragonfly. When my family found out, they took me to a child counseling office, and I remember that a consultation cost $200.

The neighborhood where the counselor was located was completely quiet, with only the occasional chirping of birds outside the window. The counselor’s aunt took me to the colorful playroom and had me lie down on her foam floor all relaxed physically and mentally.

“Relax, now, starting with your toe muscles, tense, hold, and then relax again.”

She told me to close my eyes and said you will now see the forest, the flowing water. Gradually, I was guided into the depths of consciousness and asked what I saw now and if there were any animals.

She tried to immerse me, but I could always hear the brush of the tip of her hand sliding across the white paper, as if sometimes she would write down a long list of words in response to my answers, and sometimes not say a word. I quietly pick at her foam floor mats with my fingers, feeling their uneven edges. It felt like I was half in the fairy tale world she had constructed and the other half was lying on the floor of the old neighborhood in the late afternoon, a bit split.

Although I don’t see the point for now, except for the relaxation training is more useful. But I’m willing to go along with her so that my family will keep me from fighting and using me as an outlet for a few days after I return from each session.

Even though I was a little different from my classmates, I still felt like a normal kid. It wasn’t until the first semester of my junior year that I started having insomnia, my mind was so empty that I could only sleep hazily for three or four hours even if I wasn’t thinking about anything. I often had headaches in class, and once I had an attack, it felt like the classroom environment was far away from me, like a twisted and grotesque maze that spun into irregular circles in my vision, spinning around and around.

At the same time, I often looked at the test questions on the exam paper and fell into a daze. I couldn’t understand everything on the test, and my brain felt like it was at a standstill, unable to think. My whole body was sweating, my muscles were trembling, and my heart was beating like a drum.

Usually, I can rely on my classmates to help me out more or less, but I am a student and I always have to take exams. I often had large blanks on my test papers. I sometimes even had to stare at them in disbelief, until the last minute before handing in the paper to fill in some answers haphazardly.

I could understand most of my teachers’ lectures if I tried my best, but I would still stare at the papers during the quizzes and the next exam. I began to dread going to school and woke up early in the morning with a headache that felt like long nails stabbed into the sides of my temples.

I began to take frequent excuses for headaches, and my mother took me to the hospital for tests. The doctor thought that a blood vessel at the back of my neck had poor blood flow, which was the cause of my dizziness.

But after about six months of insomnia, I told my family about my pain: I was often unable to sleep, and I was afraid that it would be difficult to take the exam again.

My aunt immediately took me to the only mental hospital in the area. The hospital was full of doctors and nurses in a hurry, with the occasional stone-faced family member huddled in front of the window, but they made very little noise, which made the sound of a wheelchair pushing in the distance obvious to me.

My aunt didn’t expect the “psychiatric” tests to be so expensive, and she stood in the hallway and asked her aunt if she had enough money with her. My aunt pulled out five bright red bills from her personal clothing and said, “Is that enough? You can still take more.” After the examination, my aunt pinched the results and said to me, “It’s just a little mind cold.”

3

The doctor instructed me to continue school and gave me some medicine. My family didn’t give me any medicine, but said hello to the class teacher that I didn’t have to take any exams or listen to classes, just do what I like and don’t bother others.

My sister, who was working far away, bought me an electronic book with her first salary, which seemed to be a Han Wang brand, close to four thousand, with a thick protective sleeve, and she knew I liked to read books. At that time, I mainly read martial arts novels, like Cang Yue, Jiangnan and Bu Fei Yan. I have also read the complete collection of a certain Taiwanese writer with weird words and a big brain, and cried in class because of his story with his dog until I couldn’t help myself.

After reading the new martial arts, I looked for old martial arts. Mr. Gu Long’s entire collection I have read, especially like the Lu Xiaofeng. I didn’t know anyone who could show me the world, but with Mr. Gu Long’s novels, whenever the teacher checked the class through the window in the corridor, I just had to stand up the bookcase, so I could isolate myself from the real world outside and step into the jungle.

I still wasn’t well enough to just sit in the corner and read, folding stack after stack of papers that had been issued to me, dropping them into my desk and bringing them home every Friday like some sort of mechanical action. I also grew distant from my classmates, with whom I no longer had anything in common since I didn’t have to take exams.

The class teacher gave me a license to leave the classroom without the teacher’s permission when I was in a particularly bad mood. I often feel a sudden emotional breakdown in the classroom, only one person in the playground is quiet, only the wind is blowing very gently, sometimes legs have a little cold. Maybe because it is a person’s relationship.

“Don’t be found by the inspection teacher ah, to remember to hide.” He smiled at me, his eyes curved and wrinkled, his expression calm and relaxed, “but you are in a good mood is the most important.”

Sometimes I would sit in the corridor or go to the end of the corridor to look for the homeroom teacher who happened to be out of class. The class teacher’s office is an abandoned classroom in the school, small, full of eliminated tables and chairs. He was alone in it to clean up a small area to correct our homework or prepare for class.

I gave him the nickname “Penguin” because he walked like a cute, fat, gentle, and cute penguin, similar to the furry penguins in the animal world. He is a very nice person, his daughter is one grade younger than me, also in our school, always the first grade, I often listen to her speech at the recognition ceremony after the flag-raising ceremony.

I actually didn’t know what to tell him, more often than not I just wanted to avoid it, I guess. I would tell him between classes, “I want to talk to you.” And he tacitly called me away before the next class started. I thought this was a decent enough way to see that, see, it was the teacher who wanted to see me, not me who couldn’t hold it together.

Sometimes I tell him about the book I’ve been reading lately, or about my counselor. More often than not, I tell him about my anxiety and insecurity, my parents’ persecution.

I didn’t think he could understand me. A father who taught the number one daughter in her grade should be very strict, especially a teacher. He would have been more likely to stand up to my parents and put me in my place. But he wouldn’t. He was just a listener, with his eyes looking straight at me. I would sometimes cry, and then I found a pack of Heartland paper draws on his desk.

I have told him more than once that if there really is a God and Buddha, I would like to share half of my good deeds with him. He didn’t answer, but it was the most precious thing I could give at that time.

About three months later, I made the decision to stop going to high school. I took a break from school, despite the class teacher’s wishes. Through a long talk with my counselor, I confronted myself with the fact that I really couldn’t do it anymore.

4

I felt lonely away from school, but I couldn’t take it anymore when my best friend told me, “I envy you for not having to take exams. Every time I heard her say that, I remembered when I couldn’t attend dance rehearsals in elementary school and had to sit in class and watch my classmates come back drenched in sweat. They also said they were so jealous of you for not having to rehearse.

A month after I returned home from school, my mother took me to the provincial capital. My doctor sister asked me if I thought I was mentally challenged, and I nodded firmly. If I could shift the blame to the fact that I was born with an intellectual disability, then everything was explained.

But the results of the intelligence assessment came back, and even though I still dreaded the test, I scored above average when faced with the intelligence answer sheet.

When I returned home, I started taking the antidepressant sertraline. Sertraline tasted strange, bitter and spicy, and it melted so quickly that if I swallowed with the slightest hesitation, it would melt at the base of my tongue into a white powder that stuck to my tongue and teeth.

After a week of taking the medicine, my limbs often trembled uncontrollably. The arms were hanging in the air, and the endings of the limbs could be clearly seen by the naked eye shaking and could not be stilled. The trembling, insomnia, fear, and loss of appetite …… were side effects that showed up one after another in me. My aunt took me to the local hospital again and the doctor prescribed some sleeping and sedative medication for me.

After taking the sedative medication, I became drowsy, sleepy during the day and night. Most of the time I was lying down, and six months later, I was 5’5” tall and weighed 130 pounds or more.

In order to combat the side effects of the drugs, and to curb ruminations, I started to contact the online game “World of Warcraft” during the rare times when I was awake. In the game group, I met a boy who was a year older than me, and we hit it off right away.

He is a southern man with a nice voice, can cook and loves to do housework. But is timid, but will be with me at all online times, offline also on call.

Six months later, the depression worsened and I felt more and more depressed. He was no longer willing to calm me down and his attitude was becoming more and more perfunctory. I wanted him to coax me, so I said, “I want to separate from you.” In just ten minutes, the boy deleted all my contact information, even the game’s friend relationship, and completely disappeared from my world.

In fact, I have not finished typing, in his second back “good” before, I want to say “but I think about it and do not want to”. The most likely depression sufferers are the ones who will lose sooner or later, so why not lose it before it’s too late, and avoid being sad for nothing. I think this is a good outcome.

When depression strikes, I don’t have any interest in anything. I like to eat the food, love to play the game, even if you want to go out with your girlfriend to walk around, but also because of weakness and retreat. I lie in bed, do not want to eat, do not want to play, do not want to communicate with people, and do not want to hear anyone’s voice. I don’t want to move, I don’t want to go to the bathroom, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to sleep, and I can’t sleep, and I don’t want to get up and do any activities to save myself. Or I want to get up, but I can’t.

I don’t even bother to wash my face or brush my teeth, sometimes I just tease some water to wet my tooth cup and toothbrush so that my family won’t worry. It was as if everything had lost its color. I couldn’t see the future. When I feel a little better, I still try to move my body a little bit, try to find something good to eat, or look up any interesting local stores. I sometimes take my mother with me. She loves beauty and likes to cut her gray hair off by the roots, but her head, which was originally full of black hair, is now uneven, like a porcupine in the animal world.

I try to cherish every bit of joy I can touch and every chance I get to want to live.

I have met many people in the online world. Perhaps because of the virtual shield of the Internet, I try to talk to them when I’m in pain. No one will remember anyone after closing the screen, but the comfort and companionship is always effective. The first day I got off work from my internship, the head of the unit called my family and implicitly asked if there was something wrong with your child.

The unit returned my internship report and I retreated back home once again. The feeling of being betrayed was angry and quite sad. My family analyzed my colleague as trying to compete with me for a job opportunity.

Sometimes it felt like life was long and overwhelming and the thought of ending it would rise. My aunt would call the Beijing Psychological Crisis Research and Intervention Center. Someone on the other side of the phone always gave me a gentle response.

“What is your pain index score now? Is it convenient to do an assessment?”

They guide me to think and distract me from my pain. They always ask a lot of questions, such as, “Have you been sleeping well for the last month? Did anything happen in the last half month that made you feel bad? Has anything happened in the last six months? What do you feel pain because of? Is there anything you like to do or are interested in lately?”

I would cry into the phone and they would continue to patiently answer me, “I know, I understand, I understand your pain.” I didn’t hate it when they asked a lot of questions; it made me feel less alone when I was heard.

About half an hour at a time, they would return to the question, “What do you think the pain level would be right now if it could still be measured on a percentage scale?”

The Intervention Line volunteers would remind me of the “past” and the “present. Each time, my pain declined significantly. Maybe sharing and talking does work, and many of the things that felt impossible to get past at the time are just that, they are past. Every six months or a year, they would check back in and ask how I was doing. Sometimes just to wait for a call like that, I want to be alive too.

5

To find some support for myself, as well as to earn some money to support myself, I started making wool felt.

It’s a craft that uses wool as the main material, laying it on a sponge mat and poking it with a poking needle to shape it into dolls, dolls, jewelry and other shapes. The process is very healing, simply poking in the wool and sponge can give people a sense of exhilaration, not to mention that the finished product can be made into a series of cute life objects such as brooches and pendants or refrigerator stickers. My favorite thing to do is to make small dogs and cats, which are quite cute and a lot of people are willing to take care of my business.

At the beginning, when I was making wool felt, it was very easy to pierce my hands, even if I wore cowhide finger covers, I couldn’t avoid it. The needle of this tool is extremely sharp so that it can reach deep inside the wool to use the barbs on the needle to felt. I told my friends in the craft group about this difficulty, and someone directly made me a pair of bendable finger covers made of cowhide and pigskin. Later, when the game “Traveling Frog” became popular, I gave him a croaking son sitting on his hand.

Later I found out that I am not very good at making simulated dogs and cats, my sketch teacher said it was because of “type blindness” and lack of “sense of spatial structure”, but the good thing is that some of the other small things I made are very cute, and more or less some people will like them. There is always a use for it.

This business that makes me feel like I’m still useful eases my pain a lot. I like to have a clear delivery date for my work, a responsibility that pushes me to get out of bed. I want to move forward and be a girl who can live a normal life, with an income and a job and a hobby of her own.

There were times when I would lie in bed, wanting to kill myself, because the thought of some list not being done, some promise not being kept, and the particular hassle of refunding one deposit after another, encouraged me to say, “Look, there are people who need you, people who like you.

Among the people who have helped me is a friend who calls himself “Kevin Woof”. I met him in a dog and cat game, and he had adopted a little stray cat with the same screen name and my favorite color, orange.

He customized many felt products for this little orange cat. Because I have a terrible constitution and can’t have a cat, Kevin Woof would send me many pictures of orange cats and tell me many stories about them. He was a slightly grumpy kitty who didn’t seem to like his owner, Kevin Wang, very much. Kevin Woof explained to me that this is because dogs and cats often do not get along.

Even though the cat was not as cooperative, Kevin would take pictures of me in various angles and poses. The big “orange” is important, and the cat is really good at sucking up.

Sometimes when I tell Kevin about my favorite comics or favorite actors, he will seriously enjoy them with me, agree with me, and discuss them with me. Kevin Woof, the friend who goes by the name of dog on the internet, gives my inner kitty the utmost recognition and love. He told me not to die, that although life was hard, there was hope.

At the age of twenty, I picked up my old job of writing again. In the small circle of order-taking is also considered a little bit of fame. Although life was still difficult to be self-sufficient, my body was still weak and I could not work for long hours, but I was able to earn a little pocket money and find a way to live for myself.

It has been ten years since I was diagnosed with depression, and I have been taking my medication regularly for more than eight years. I have changed my medication once, been hospitalized in one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the country, relapsed about three times, and wanted to die dozens of times, but more than 3,650 days later, I am still able to embrace the bright sunshine in the morning every day.

My health improved a little, and during my stay I noticed that the girls in my room were taking care of their skin, and I followed suit, rubbing it well and rubbing it on my face, thinking I was a normal girl. I gradually learned to get along with this black dog, and although the journey was long, I was always doing it. My family and friends don’t always take care of my emotions, but I know they love me.

I try to cook, take my skin care seriously, and occasionally wear a little perfume. Most importantly, I followed my doctor’s orders to take my medication on time and in full every day. Every time I exercise, every time I walk in the sunshine, I feel like a lovely and wonderful girl, and every time I wake up from sleep, I am alive and want to stay alive and remember to be happy every single day.

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