Young man tells of his dark teen years and how counselling showed him light – The National

In another time, Ansel Johnson may not have had the help he desperately needed to overcome the depression that hung over him through his teenage years. The original full article was published in The National on, 05.08.2017

Now 20, he has turned his life around and dragged him-self up from his lowest point, when he took prescription drugs and harmed himself, leaving him scarred for life.

Mr. Johnson is returning to education in Sharjah, as many of his years in high school in the US and UAE were plagued by mental health problems.

”I had bouts of paranoia and long periods of feeling inadequate since I was 13,” he said. ”I grew up with that feeling. I assumed it was teenage angst, so I didn’t get any help.

”It got gradually worse.  I was feeling low all of the time, sinking deeper into this feeling of hating myself. It evolved into an apathy for life, a disdain and a lack of interest in living.”


Mr. Johnson began self-medicating with Xanax, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.  Misuse of the medicine can cause addiction, overdose or death.


”That’s when I started self-harming, just to feel some- thing. I got very drunk one night and cut my face with a broken glass. The next day I realized I had to get out of that environment.”

In January, last year, he returned to the UAE where his aunt, a counsellor, recommended sessions at the German Neuroscience Centre.

”I didn’t want to talk as it made me feel weak but eventually I figured I had to speak to someone about what I was going through,’ ‘he said.

”I went to therapy and was diagnosed with ADHD and major depressive disorder. The group didn’t judge me, but understood me. It helped me to get out of the rut I had been in for years.

”I was lucky my parents supported me. I know there are plenty of people who don’t see this as a real problem but it is more common than people think.”

The original full article was published in The National on, 05.08.2017