My name is Catherine Urquhart and I am 17 years old. I live in the north east of Scotland just outside a small village called Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire. I am a member of Mid Deeside Young Farmers in the north region. At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with recurrent major depression and anxiety.
Living with depression is like having another person living inside of you that isn’t yourself. Important factors for me staying well are definitely being able to rely on the people around me as depression can be a very lonely illness. I find that keeping in regular contact with friends keeps me feeling valued and included. The other important factor for me staying well is distraction. In my case, I sometimes find it hard to be motivated to get out the house and do things so for me getting up and getting out there is a big deal. This is where young farmers really comes in handy as there is always something going on. There is no denying that living with depression is hard but the most important thing is to find the things that make you feel that little bit more like you.
Living with anxiety is like feeling your mind and body running away at 100 mph when the world is travelling at a snail pace. Panic attacks are a major symptom of my anxiety. After a while of having several panic attacks in the same day I knew something had to change. I think the hardest thing about living with anxiety is that no one can truly understand what or how you are feeling. You get told things like “stop being silly” or “it’ll be fine, stop worrying” because there is too much stigma and not enough information out there about this mental illness.
Medication and hospitalisation play a huge part in my personal journey to recovery. Almost as soon as I was referred to the doctors in the Young Peoples Department at the Royal Cornhill Hospital I was put onto an anti-depressant medication. After a long time of being on this medication and being admitted to the Royal Cornhill Hospital, which is a psychiatric hospital in Aberdeen, several times I was finally admitted to the Young Peoples Unit in Dundee. I spent 6 weeks in the YPU. In that time I underwent a complete medication change. I gradually came off my current medication and was introduced to a new anti-depressant and also an anti-psychotic medication to try to help some of my irrational anxiety symptoms. These new medications worked wonders and I was finally on the road to being me again. Looking back at my time in the YPU, although I know it was the hardest experience in my life I am also glad that it put me back on the right track.
Relapse is definitely the hardest part of anyone’s mental health journey. Roughly 6 months had passed since my stay at the YPU which was late spring time this year. With it being spring time as every farmer will know the stress levels are always heightened with calving and lambing being in full flow. Also as any school pupil will know that at this time of year exams are looming. With life being so busy and every minute not studying or calving a cow is usually spent sleeping, remembering medication took a bit of a back seat in the scale of important jobs. Because of the irregularity of taking my medication I began to relapse. I began feeling extreme symptoms of my illnesses again. This made me and my family panic as no one wanted to see me go down the path I was headed 6 months previous. Luckily having such a supportive family they made sure to take me to see my doctors and get the right advice to get me back on track again.
Looking back I am extremely proud that I have managed to overcome the worst part of my illnesses. I feel that anyone who has a mental illness of any kind, no matter how mild or severe, who is able to come out the other side still standing on two feet is a truly amazing person. Looking to the future I feel it is bright. I am looking forward to going to study animal care at college, I am still enjoying young farmers and looking forward to the start of our northern spotlight rehearsals for the 4th year. My main piece of advice for anyone with a mental illness is not to be afraid to ask for help because there are so many different ways to get help out there.