Sometimes, when I speak to friends and family about my depression, I feel they don’t understand what I am really going through. This is what it is like for me when I experience a depressive episode.

When a black cloud begins to form above me, the world turns into a darker, more hostile place. When I do ‘crash’ into a depressed state, I enter a distorted reality where I genuinely believe that I am useless and that I can’t do anything right. This then leads to feelings that my friends and family would all be better off without me because I am a nuisance to them. In this state, I feel completely isolated and vulnerable, and suicide can seem like the only way to escape.

One such episode which really stands out was during an A level exam a couple of years ago. Half way through, my anxiety about the exam and the pressure that I had put on myself to do well boiled over. I stopped writing and put my head in my hands, panicking and thinking that I had let not only myself down but my family down too. I still remember being escorted out of the exam hall and bursting into tears, truly believing that I was worthless.

However, once the cloud begins to dissipate, I begin to recover from the hurricane of emotions that overwhelmed me. I can begin to return to my ‘normal’ self. However, anxiety is not far away and I know that my demons will return to taunt me again some time soon.

When I explain this to others, they sometimes can not understand that what I feel when I am depressed seems like the reality to me. Some friends have acted somewhat angrily when I try and explain that I can believe that no one cares about me. This isn’t because they are bad people – it is because mental health conditions, especially depression, are not very well understood due to the stigma that they carry.

What I wish some people would understand is that I don’t make myself feel like this just for attention. Believe me, if people had the choice over or not to feel depressed, depression would not exist as an illness. Making comments like ‘Cheer up’ do the exact opposite and show a misunderstanding about mental illness.

It can be so hard to talk openly about how I really feel to people; it is all too easy to think that no one understands and that no one is listening anyway. But the more people talk frankly about depression and what it is like to suffer from it, the more people will begin to understand what people with mental illness are going through.