Graduating From Mental Illness

Well, the day I’ve been dreading arrived like hot damn freight train. I am no longer in the school system in any way, shape, or form.

I was molded in primary school into Classic Young Girl Child™.

Then I was chewed up in high school and spat out into a grotesque mess of human that tried to have little to no identity for fear that people wouldn’t like her. (Fun fact: people are able to make you feel like trash anyway.)

And university took that mess, shaped it into something human-like and shoved a diploma into its slightly misshapen hands.

Now I’ve been released into a world where no one is setting any kind of goals for me. No one except myself. And good lord is it terrifying.

There have been a grand total of 4 years of my entire life that I haven’t been in education. And for half of them I was literally pooping myself and my “friends” consisted of other interchangeable blob children who had parents that my mother could stand to talk to. So, since the first day on this earth that I can recall, I’ve been in school.

18 years. 18 years that revolve around a basic premise: you get taught things, you learn things, you prove you know the things, rinse, repeat.

And now…

Now what?

When people ask me, my go-to answer is, “My plan is to randomly be given billions of pounds so I’m sorted for life and can just play video games all day.” They laugh, I laugh, and the day moves on.

Or I can give them my ‘game plan’. “I’m going to find an editing job in Scotland, get connections, get experience, and when I’ve got enough under my belt, head over to America to where all the Dream Editing Jobs live.

But I never say what’s actually in my head. What my future really holds, according to me. “I’ll try for a while. Then everyone will learn that I’m as useless as I know I am. They’ll see I’m not worth having. They’ll turn me away for someone better. Someone that deserves it. I’ll fall into the ranks and get a job I hate until one day someone will find me rotting in my cubical because I decided I can’t live this life.

True or not, my brain has put it down as inevitable.

I know I’ll keep fighting to get the job and the life I want for as long as I can. But my depression and anxiety aren’t going anywhere. And I can’t imagine that either of them are going to get cured during my frantic hunt for a future.

The anxiety will make sure I know I’m not good enough for any of the jobs. It will also make sure that when I go on interviews I’ll be a disgusting, sweaty mess. And because of this I won’t get the job. And then the depression will sigh, roll its eyes, and remind me that I knew this was going to happen. I was always destined to be the human sludge I am.

After a while… God… It’s so exhausting…

And a hundred people will flash up examples of all of the amazing and wonderful people who have beaten the odds and shown how Believing In Yourself And Never Giving Up And Going After Your Dreams™ works, no matter how long it takes.

But when your own mind is pushing you to give up, it’s hard not to. It’s natural to want to prove yourself to people who told you your dreams are impossible. It’s not as easy when the person telling you that you’re a failure is yourself. For one, your biggest critic is with you 100% of the time. There’s no getting away from that.

It feels like I have to work five times as hard to get what I want. Not only do I have to convince people I’m right for the job, I have to convince myself that I’m right for the job. Which means I have to convince myself I’m not useless. Which means I have to go against 22 years of experience in feeling useless.

It’s not easy.

And once I get a job? What then? “Sorry I can’t come in today. I can’t seem to stand up without it feeling like the world is pushing me back down again“? Or “I’m taking a day off. Why? Oh, well, I’m thinking about five thousand things right now and it’s difficult for me to breathe and I might vomit if I have to be around people“? Employee of the month won’t come super easily.

Unsurprisingly, full time anxiety is my day-to-day now. I barely sleep because my brain is too active and stressed. I wake up immediately to a panic attack. I try and drown out the thoughts in my head with YouTube, TV and games. Eventually that stops working and all the thoughts of the day pile on top of me and press me into the mattress, feeling every inch of the uselessness that I’m comprised of.

Sometimes I can go outside. Sometimes I even talk to people. But before too long it’s too overwhelming and I’ll stop being able to breathe and start having to take strategic bathroom breaks so I can vomit out the fear. After that comes a couple days of locking myself inside, comfortable in the knowledge that I’m too defective to go outside. And god forbid if any well meaning people bring up what I’m doing these days, or what my plans for the future are.

Fortunately, that’s hardly ever asked of me, what with being a recent graduate………..

So from here on, I’m not a statistic. I’m not, “one of the many people who experience mental health problems due to stress in university.

I’ve graduated to a young unemployed professional, with no direction and no ability to socially interact. They failed to write that on the diploma, however.

But hey, at least I’m in the UK, where I get my medication paid for by the NHS to keep me relatively sane…

…for now.

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Originally published at on September 13, 2016.

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