LIVING WITH DEPRESSION:
I believe that this is one of many controversial subjects that we stiff upper lipped brits shy away from talking about and if we just buck up things will all be ok in the end. Bollox to that! I’m going to tell you about my journey with that taboo subject, just because it may strike a chord for one other person and help them realise they are not alone and they don’t have to suffer in silence like I did.
It’s a tricky subject to find a starting place for, because at the moment I can’t truly remember the last time I was happy. Was it leaving home at 16? How about not getting into the Army? Or was it being diagnosed with stage 1 cervical cancer? Could have been losing 2 close friends to cancer and being the one that survived? Or maybe suffering a back injury that stopped me from pursuing my dreams of becoming someone in the sporting world? There are plenty of bad situations to choose from, or is it a genetic flaw? I have been seeing a councillor on and off for a couple of years to try and help get to the bottom of it, but one of the biggest issues for me is opening up. I’ve got so used to burying everything and putting on a brave face, it has become the norm. I feel like I have no real purpose, I’m drifting along unnoticed and barely keeping my head above water. Now that I am self-employed and rely solely on building strong relationships with my clients to earn money, there is more pressure to “be brave and knuckle down”. I have done that for so long now that I have actually lost the reason I wanted to start my own business in the first place.
It won’t be ok eventually and things won’t get better over time. I don’t care what all the self-help books say and what the experts tell you to do. The only thing I have found that works, is to do some soul searching and stand up to face your fears and find out what your triggers are. Unless you have had depression and been able to come through it, how can you be in a position to offer advice? I’m sorry but it’s something that you have to figure out for yourself, and learn to remove yourself form the situations and people that send you down.
I have plenty of scars, some I wear proudly on my sleeve and will talk about and some run too deep for me to even contemplate bringing up. One of my main triggers is the feeling of guilt. It’s there all the time, every hour of every day. Even when I’m sleeping, it creeps into my dreams. I find myself questioning why I feel this overwhelming darkness taking over me. I have a beautiful girlfriend, a wonderful house, a thriving business, a loving (what I class as) family, relative health and food in my belly, what do I have to be miserable about? The answer is nothing, but that is when the guilt of feeling miserable comes in. I know that there are people in far worse situations than me, and they cope just fine so why can’t I? And then the spiral begins. The darkness never goes away, it’s always there, just at different densities.
I have only recently been put on meds, because it took me the best part of 12 years to finally admit that I couldn’t fix this on my own and I needed to get help. Everyone I spoke to about being on antidepressants told me to stay away from them, because they don’t help, are addictive and things can’t be that bad. As usual I didn’t listen, did some more research and took my questions and concerns to my GP. He was very calm, listened, kept out of my personal space and guided me through a simple test that let him know the severity of my depression and then answered all of my questions and then we began treatment. I see him every 2 weeks to measure and talk about how I’m feeling and changing the meds if necessary. In all honesty, I feel nothing now I’m on meds. I don’t have as many lows but I don’t really have any highs either, I just exist. I can see why people think they don’t work; it’s not a quick fix. You can’t take one pill and then expect to wake up the next day feeling wonderful and all your issues gone. It’s a journey that requires commitment and patience. I have been so low for so long, what’s 8-9 months of brain chemicals rebalancing?
There are other things that I have noticed since starting my course of antidepressants;
- I can get out of bed in the mornings
- I want to train and be outside (a massive bonus for an athlete and personal trainer)
- I want to eat well
- I am sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time
- I don’t want to end my life
There are still some things that require a little bit more thought and work, such as;
- Talking to and being with people
- I still feel very much alone
- The darkness is still there
- Leaving the house for things other than work
- Being able to cope when I’m having a bad day.
So far, lots of progress but I am fully aware there is a long way to go.
So basically, try not to be embarrassed if you feel that life is too much for you, it gets the better of us all at some point. You are not alone in the way you are felling and there is a light, you just have to find what works for you. Exercise, good food, a loving partner, good sleep, a job you love, friends that don’t care if you’re having a bad day and will make you laugh whenever possible all work for me. I know that I’m still a long way from being better, but I’m enjoying myself a little more.
Hang in there soldier, you are doing a great job.
Try to remember that someone is drinking their morning from the coffee cup you brought them with a smile, loving you from a far.
Lots of love and understanding