My name is Chazz, and I'm a 24-year-old mother of one living in Wales. I've suffered from depression and anxiety since before I was a teenager, brought upon by the sudden death of my father.
At the time of his death, I was nine, and didn't know how to process what had happened. I wasn't old enough to understand that I was depressed, but for three months, I hardly left my room. I didn't want to talk to anyone, or see anyone, because I didn't want to be reminded of the fact that he wasn't there. In the bubble of my room, nothing changed, and I could exist - not live, just exist.
When my mother and I moved from England to Wales just before starting secondary school, everyone thought of me as an outsider, so I started getting bullied. It made me feel even more depressed, so I began cutting myself. I hated my life so much that on a few occasions, I tried to end it. In time, I grew to hate myself so much that I concluded that my endless suffering was better, more deserved, than the quick end that suicide would bring, so I stopped trying to kill myself.
To cope with my pain, I started drinking vodka. Then, I started smoking marijuana, and I got hooked on migraine relief tablets. It all helped me escape for a while, but my depression was always there, waiting to suffocate me as soon as I sobered.
Soon afterwards, at age 14, I found myself in a relationship with a classmate who'd beat me. Sometimes he'd grab me by the throat, shove me into a wall, and threaten me. He would tell me I was ugly, how no one else would want me. He would also tell me I could never escape him, that he'd be everywhere I was. He threw furniture at me, and he'd hit me. I felt I couldn't leave because I was terrified of what would happen if I did. One time he dragged me into the foyer of an empty church and tried to rape me. I expect he would have succeeded, but I had a surge of adrenaline, and managed to kick him in the crotch and quickly escape. Even after I left the school, he would text my mobile, threatening to hunt me down and end my life, no matter what I did.
After leaving school, I threw myself into college. It meant leaving my mum and step-dad's house, couch-surfing, and living on £60 a fortnight, but I started to make friends (some of whom are still with me to this day, and form part of my support network). I started to feel less like an outsider, and more like I belonged. I stopped drinking and taking drugs to escape, and started taking them recreationally, until eventually, I stopped taking them at all. I also started my first course of anti-depressants, which really helped. There would be a couple of periods where I would attempt self harming again, but I managed to stop that too, rather than continue as before. During college, I met my now husband, and during university, we married, and in time I fell pregnant. I finished my degree two weeks prior to my daughter's birth. When she was born, it was the most magical moment of my life. She is so beautiful, and I know I need to protect her, to let her grow up knowing how special and beautiful she is. I don't want her to have my issues.
Although I am now feeling better than when I was a teenager, as a result of everything I've been through, my confidence is rock bottom. I struggle day-to-day, and often my actions end up pushing away those I love most, and I know it won't be long before they are gone from my life for good.
I don't feel like I'm of value in this world, like I'm useful to anyone. I can't remember the last time I thought of myself as attractive, or wore an outfit, even for work, without panicking about whether or not I look OK. I have no confidence in my abilities, I am too eager to please everyone, and I put everyone else's interests before my own. I was asked the other day who Chazz is, and I couldn't answer, because I don't know, because my confidence in myself is non-existent.
I realise that I have a lot of demons that need dealing with, and for this reason, I want more than anything in the world to be able to go to therapy. I want to be able to get the help I need so that I can walk out the door and not be petrified that I am on the verge of losing everyone I hold dear, and to be able to hold my head high and like what I see in the mirror every morning. I contacted you and put my name down for therapy six months ago, and you told me that it would be eight months before I'd be able to see a therapist. But instead of only being two months away from seeing a therapist, I've now been told that the wait will be two years.
I know you don't have unlimited resources. I know I'm only one of several million people in the UK who needs help for depression. But what am I supposed to do? What are any of us supposed to do who can't afford to pay for therapy? Having depression is like having a broken brain, and in the same way someone with a broken leg needs an operation to get better, we need therapy to be able to help us deal with the underlying causes of our depression and recover. And in the same way a broken leg will never heal without an operation, a broken brain will never heal without therapy. And that's what scares me more than anything in the world: the fear that I'll be choked by my depression for the rest of my life.
To help people in Chazz's position, the Australian mental health charity Depression Is Not Destiny has just launched a platform to crowdfund the cost of therapy for people suffering from depression who can't afford it. If you'd like to find out more about Chazz's campaign and make a contribution to help her get the assistance she needs, then you can do so here.
If you're in a similar position to Chazz and would be interested in creating your own campaign to crowdfund the costs of your therapy, please visit Depression Is Not Destiny's website at www.depressionisnotdestiny.org.