Leonie, 44, knew where her depression came from – but that didn’t make it any easier to live with. Growing up in South Africa, where both her parents were violently attacked, left her with what she calls “a constant, low hum of insecurity and threat, almost like tinnitus.” Her father died when she was 17, and in her 20s, she became her mother’s carer. By the autumn of 2019 she had been on antidepressants for more than half her life, with barely a break.
The medication helped to stabilise Leonie during the most severe episodes that left her bed-bound, but in between she was advised to continue on a preventative dose. She experienced a relentless low-level depression: “It was almost more debilitating, because you’re functional but only half alive. You’re getting by and everything looks okay, but for me, that’s a life half-lived.”