I thought I would do a post on depression as it is something I unfortunately know a lot about and it is probably something I will need to deal with all my life but the stigma around talking out about it, is still pretty bad and I don’t feel ashamed to admit that I suffer and I hope by talking about it, it can help others do the same.
I think mine probably started at the same time as I got my migraines strangely, I am sure they don’t have much in common but it was the situation I was in that caused both I think. I was about 17/18 when we moved house with my mum and step-dad, to move into a bigger house with my grandparents, so that we could help my Grandad look after my Grandma who had Alzheimer’s. I won’t go into this story right now, as it is long and painful, but I just wanted to give you the idea around why my depression may have stemmed from.
It was a hard time for me, I had just started a new job, my sister had disappeared to Uni for four years and I did feel quite alone and also resented my sister slightly for moving away when we needed her most, but she needed to go to Uni and that was that, I just needed to deal with it and to be honest, visiting her was a great escape from it all from time to time.
So it was just me and my mum really that had to deal with my Grandma, my Grandad found it extremely hard to deal with so he was mostly sitting in his chair eyes fixed to the TV, in denial about the whole thing. My step-dad worked all hours and drank too much, so he was no help, so it really was a pressure for me to help mum as much as I could as I could see the strain on her too. It was a bloody hard time. Eventually Grandma went into a lovely care home and we visited her once or twice a week when we could but this was depressing in itself, seeing so many people with the same awful disease and all I wanted to do was tell Grandma about my fab new job etc.. which I did but she just used to look at me trying to work out who I was, I hope deep down she knew it was me and took in what I told her, but I will never know. But thank goodness she is now at peace and hopefully enjoying watching what we get up to on the sidelines. She had such a great, wicked sense of humour and I miss her terribly.
So, the depression I feel stemmed from the above and the funny thing with depression, if I can use the word ‘funny’ and depression in the same sentence?! Is that, with mine, one minute I could be totally fine, then the next it would hit me like a ton of bricks, literally, like a black hole would appear and suck me in, and that was it, I couldn’t see a way out. One word I can use to describe it is ‘overwhelming’ You just find life and everything about it totally overwhelming, well that is what it sometimes feels for me, like I literally cannot breathe. It is so hard to describe to someone how you feel when you are depressed and also to explain to those that love you that there is absolutely nothing they can say or do to help you, other than be there for you and just listen when you feel ready to speak about how you feel, which is another thing I struggle with. I usually go within and struggle to tell anyone how I am feeling as honestly, I find it so hard to explain to anyone.
I have had numerous counselling sessions in the last 15 years, some have helped tremendously, some didn’t help at all. Prozac was my good friend for a good few years as well, but obviously, I didn’t want to stay on those forever, I wanted to know that my brain was feeling better on it’s own, without some tablet helping me out. I think, If you get the right counsellor, counselling can be amazing and really help, I am not even sure how. Maybe it is because you are free to talk to some stranger about all your troubles and how you feel, without them judging you or feeling like they want to be somewhere else, as it is their job to listen. I sometimes feel a burden on friends, if I do tell them about my depression, as it is draining talking about it, so I can imagine they feel drained listening, so I don’t talk about it much and some just don’t understand, as they have never been there and lucky them, I wish I didn’t know what depression felt like.
I have come to realise though that it never completely goes away for me. It lies dormant inside, ready to attack at any moment, but I am better at dealing with it now. I have had CBT therapy that has helped greatly, I cannot recommend it enough, just make sure you get on with the person you go to see, this is so important. I also had normal counselling too, which I also found really helped me, as I found such a great lady, I was lucky and she got me through some hard times. I do feel happier in myself now, but the dark days come, I am not going to say they don’t as they do, but I am better equipped mentally to deal with them now and I know that eventually, I will come through that tunnel and have better days. I wish I knew what the magic answer was, but then I would be very rich! But all I do know is that it is part of me and I have to deal with it as best I can and know to ask for help when needed.
I sometimes feel that depression is a lonely place, as only you really know how it makes you feel and you also don’t want to tell many people how you feel, especially at work, this is a tough one for me because in the job I do as a PA, I have to deal with a lot of people every day and usually, I am upbeat and a happy, smiley, socialable person, but on the days that I am not and having a D day, I find it so hard and unbearable at work, I almost want to hide under my desk , or put a sign up to say ‘do not disturb’ But.. I press on and smile through it, which sometimes helps and other times it really doesn’t, so on the really bad days I usually hide in a toilet cubicle for 5 minutes and take deep breaths, have a little cry if needed. Unfortunately work is work, there is nothing I can do about it, I just have to find ways to manage it. As the D word is not freely spoken about at work is it? Can you imagine going up to your boss when you are having a D day and saying ‘ sorry but can you just leave me be today, as I am suffering with depression’ unfortunately not. But, I would like to be able to talk about it as freely as say, a headache.
The stigma attached to it annoys me and for those poor souls that feel the have no one to talk to or any way out, sometimes do drastic things, which is the saddest part of depression, those that feel there is nothing left for them but to end their life. I have had in the past, fleeting moments of these thoughts, but I think they were just that, fleeting moments, I would never go through with it, as I think it is a brave soul that does this, although many people say it is the cowardly way out, I don’t. I think it is brave and also very very sad and tragic.
I don’t feel embarrassed to tell anyone that I suffer with depression.anymore, It is part of who I am and I am learning to live with it and deal with it. I just wish more people would talk up and not feel ashamed. There is nothing to be ashamed about and it always helps to talk about it or even write it down, even if it is for your eyes only.
I have a thing that I do when I have one of my D days, I tell my depression to jog on and tell myself to press on and keep going, as I know that the lighter days come and as hard as that is when you are having a ‘black hole’ day, week, month etc.. It does help you focus. I also don’t put pressure on myself to feel miraculously better, as I know it doesn’t work like that. I always see the ‘press’ bit in the word depression, as it does feel like a constant pressure, sometimes like a gas pressure cooker, like your head is going to explode and then I also use it as a positive to say, press on and take each day as it comes and know that you will have good and bad days. As long as you know that there is always people you can talk to and also there is nothing to be ashamed of in getting help too. Just think of it this way: People that have a bad shoulder, neck, back etc.. they go and get the help needed to make this better, this is exactly the same, just because you can’t show people your pain, doesn’t mean it isn’t there or you should feel embarrassed by it.
I hope one day, I can say depression is a distant memory for me, but for now I deal with it in my every day life and am happy to talk about it as I am not ashamed by it and neither should anyone else be that suffers.