Health

Celine's depression: 'My selfies tell a story'

Celine Ballantine Image copyright CELINE BALLANTINE
Image caption Celine wants to inspire others to be open about their mental health problems

Celine is a 19-year-old law student at the University of Hull who has suffered with depression and anxiety for much of her life.

She is one of around 80,000 children and young people who suffer from severe depression in the UK.

Recently, she posted on Facebook about her mental health struggles and was met with a very positive response.

This gave her the confidence to contact us and share her experiences, while receiving treatment at Cygnet Hospital Harrogate.

More than anything, she wants to inspire others to be open about their mental health.

This is her story.

Image copyright Celine Ballantine
Image caption Celine says these photos show how her declining mental health affected her physically

"Since as long as I can remember I have felt unhappy, unmotivated overall unsuccessful, with dark thoughts lingering in my mind.

"People say we cannot see mental health, but I don't agree. The photos above show how gradually mental health has physically affected me. (From left to right)

"It can be seen in the hair that I couldn't be bothered to brush anymore, in the lack of make-up, because - what was the point?

"And it can be seen in the smile, that is in all four photos, but which gradually becomes more and more of a cry for help.

"How can it be possible for a person like me to be so unhappy with their life? I owned two beautiful horses which have played a significant role in helping me cope with my depression and anxiety, among other issues.

"My parents have been more than generous and support me in every possible way.

"Yet I felt incomplete, I felt as if it is almost impossible some mornings to leave my bed because at the end of the day - what was the point? Nothing had a purpose.

"I've had people yell at me and say, 'Just get up', and, 'Stop being lazy', but the truth is, for anyone else that has experienced anything similar, it is not that easy. And the days I do manage to move from my bed, I feel like I deserve a gold medal.

"When I was at my lowest, not only did I feel sad, I began struggling in simple situations.

"It began with speaking in public at a young age. I would avoid school until eventually it wasn't necessary for me to go at all.

Losing everything

"On other occasions, I would find myself in situations in Tesco where someone's laughter was enough to cause me great distress because I began to feel strangers were laughing at me.

"If I caught a glimpse of someone staring at me it was because I must be overweight. So I found myself focusing on girl body builders and models, on how good they looked.

"Seeing myself in the mirror made me feel really down because I did not match up to this image - which girls these days strive to achieve.

"This became another daily stress which has led me to lose weight over the past few months.

"It then started to affect things I enjoyed. I was unable to ride my horse without feeling we weren't good enough - that I was a poor rider and that I'd let my horse down. I would put immense pressure on myself before a riding show, the kind of pressure that not even an Olympian athlete would recognise.

"No-one needs to ever feel like this. No-one needs to feel like they can't do something or are not good enough.

"When I broke up with my boyfriend last year I felt as if I was losing everything, bit by bit. I gave up on wearing make-up and became a bit of a state. I had no motivation.

"I went to see an NHS psychologist but he said I was being melodramatic.

"When I started uni, that was another big stress. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and think, 'I can't do this anymore'.

A load has lifted

"During my recent treatment the doctors at the hospital spoke to me as if my problems were completely normal. Finally, someone understood.

"There's been loads of support like group therapy, one-to-one counselling and everyone here talks to each other about their issues.

"I have met many people suffering with the same problems as me but I would never have known unless I had spoken to them about it.

"It was such a huge relief to know I was not alone. I finally realised other people had the same mind thoughts, stress and worries I did.

"Some of us might be OK and that's OK too, but others might need some help along the way.

"There is no shame in waking up and taking a tablet that will make you enjoy your daily life. And having someone to talk to, who will listen to you, will make you feel as if a load has been lifted.

"The brain is an organ like any other. You wouldn't think twice about taking a paracetamol for a hangover so why would you think twice about taking a tablet that will make you feel better."

No shame in speaking out

"I will hands up say I struggle with mental health issues. I'm going to come out better at the end of it and enjoy the rest of my life.

"There is no shame in mental health. People need to stop worrying that if they are strong enough to say, 'I need help', then they will get the title of a madman or the image of someone from a horror movie.

"I have been called a loony, a psycho, a nut case, not right in the head... But it's in those situations that you realise who your friends are.

"I am forever grateful to the hospital for their help and for the support of wonderful friends and family who haven't judged me or treated me any differently.

"My name is Celine, I'm 19 and a university law student. I speak two languages and I have a beautiful horse. I suffer with mental health issues."

Where to get help?

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling - don't suffer in silence
  • If it's become a long-term problem, see your GP - you may need medication
  • Help yourself by getting some exercise, eating healthily and doing things you enjoy
  • If the depression has been continuing for some time, you may need to be referred for therapy or counselling

Where to find out more

And you can join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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