Sometimes I just feel so lucky.
I've got parents who want to support me, who have read about depression, and who are ready to help me through any difficult times.
I've got friends who make me feel that things are normal, friends who also suffer from depression, and friends who don't know anything about mental health but they're there if I need them.
They're there to ask how I am - do I want to go out and get some fresh air, do I want to play rugby or go to the cinema? It sounds simple, but the little things, the things we usually take for granted - a text message, a cuddle, a cuppa, a pint - really make a difference.
But sometimes I feel like I don't deserve this. Sometimes I feel as if I'm destroying the lives of the people I love, simply because I exist. There's no logical explanation for this. The thoughts are there when I get up in the morning, or when I get back from work in the afternoon, or before I go to sleep at night. Depression is complex and subtle like that. Therefore, the hardest thing for me is to ask for help. I usually feel that I can't reach out to my friends when I'm drowning, but I can't emphasise enough how important it is to ask for help.
By reaching out, I've helped other people who also suffer with depression. If I open up to them, they feel that they can talk about their problems too. I've got one amazing friend who's been there through the darkest times. If one of us feels as if we could do something self-destructive, we text the other person with the words 'code red', and that person takes the next steps straight away.
Questions we ask
What level are you on the depression scale? 1- feeling very low; 10 - feeling fine
Are you having any suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self-harm?
Where are you currently?
What are your current thoughts?
After doing this, we talk about depression, the situation and if there's an answer to that problem. Every time after I've talked with a friend, I feel better. It doesn't cure the illness, but it's a comfort to know that there's someone who understands what I'm going through It's important to know that you're not on your own.
My heroes are my friends. They're the ones with the power to make me feel that I can deal with the dark days, and I've got the power to reach out and ask for help.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email email@example.com