Lucas’s story

People that have known me from when I was young would describe me as being a cheerful, energetic and hard working person. I did tend to get stressed out easily, but I also considered myself to be an optimist and I would have never predicted that I would end up having a depressive episode with suicidal ideation before graduation, but I did.

When I started university, I had managed to plan my life in such a tight schedule that there was hardly any time left for sleeping. I was studying full time, I worked 2 jobs to pay for college and for my house, I took care of my mother who was ill and lived nearby, I worked out 3 to 4 times a week, and I occasionally went out to party in the weekends. I had kept this busy lifestyle up for as long as I could remember, so I never questioned whether I would keep it up now. But when I got a job offer at my internship, and when the time came to start writing my thesis, I started to feel the pressure.

The realization that I would have to keep this up in order to successfully finish my education and ensure my job at my internship hit me hard, and I started to get stressed out. Because of this, I felt agitated for most of the time, and I always felt rushed. I also worried a lot, especially when I laid down in bed to go to sleep, and after a few weeks I was lucky to get 3 hours of sleep per night. During that time I also lost my joy in eating, while cooking (and eating) had always been my hobby, so I gradually lost a little bit of weight. I stopped going out in the weekends because I was too tired and I felt weaker and more mellow every day. But I wanted to keep up my education and jobs no matter what because I was very ambitious.

I was too tired and I felt weaker every day

After a couple of weeks of feeling weak, agitated and mellow, I started to worry that I would not be able to keep up my lifestyle this way. This scared me, because I realized that I had built my life around working towards reaching my educational and occupational goals, but I had left out a very important aspect of life, which was making friends and building a network. I found myself in need of support, but I had no network to get support from.

This made me feel incredibly lonely, and I started to believe that no one wanted to hang out with me because I was such a worthless person. This caused so much pain and sorrow, it was almost unbearable. Then I started thinking about what a relief it would be to kill myself, that would certainly stop the pain, I got convinced that it was the only solution to all of my problems.

Luckily, by that time I had asked for help and was assigned a therapist, and together we started tackling these thoughts and feelings using CBT techniques and mindfulness exercises. It took a lot of effort to turn around my distorted thoughts and feelings, and to come up with enough courage to start building on the things that truly matter in life; acceptance, pleasure and loved ones.

By getting the right treatment at the moment I needed it most, I turned back into the person that I used to be; happy, enthusiastic and in love with life. And against all odds, I graduated Cum Laude and I was offered a wonderful job which I still enjoy very much. I’m so glad that I had the guts to ask for help, because I’ve become a more balanced and stronger person than I ever was before.

Lucas

7 october 2016

Name and photo are fictitious.
Photo: peus / 123RF Stockfoto