Knowing about depression
is one thing, experiencing it is another. May
17th, 2016, I was diagnosed with severe depression. I was mid-way through the
first year of doing my masters’ degree, and everything was going well when I
was diagnosed. I had faked being ‘ok’ for months, found myself experiencing a
mental downward spiral, to the
state where I hated myself.
After my diagnosis, family members and friends, some of whom have experienced depression, or whom are chronically depressed, supported me.
These are the main things that they have taught me about living with depression:
Asking for help is a brave step forward
Storms rage in your head all the time. There is
no switch off. Your body is fatigued, can even be lying still; yet the storms
in your head are draining you of your energy. Imagine having to explain that to
a doctor. Imagine having to explain how over the months you’ve experienced a
mental downward spiral and are no-longer yourself. Angry thoughts racing to and
fro from the back of your mind, a growing sense of worthlessness, guilt and
self-loathing slowly devouring you. Asking for help is an incredibly brave
thing to do, and it can get you back on the right track the sooner you ask.
You’re older and wiser
Whilst living with depression is very
challenging, you find coping mechanisms to help overcome the episodes. Whether
it is through art, music, going out for walks, or developing new hobbies to
help distract your mind. The experience of depression, however, once the
support network and help is in place, you are much wiser than before. You have
a greater understanding of the challenges faced by people with depression, and
are more equipped to being able to deal with them.
You’re much stronger than you realise
Depression is a fight on its own; a prolonged
fight in your mind where you battle waves of guilt, worthlessness and, in some
cases, self-loathing. Learning to fight against the voices of depression when
you’re fatigued, worn out, or in a tearful state, to getting on with day to day
activities highlights internal strength that no-one else is able to comprehend.
You’re a soldier!
Reach out to others with depression
Combining the first two points, once you have all the support that you need, take some time out to help others cope with depression. Not everyone will have the same support network, and so taking some time out to spend time with someone who needs it can offer a new lease of life, make them feel loved and special, and making them aware that they are not alone.
No-one will understand you, unless they experience it themselves
This speaks for itself; unless someone you know
has had depression, then no-one else will truly understand the chaotic turmoil
going on in your head. You are fighting an invisible battle on a daily basis,
that can vary in severity and longevity per each person. However, know that you
are not alone. The oxymoron of this though, is whilst 1 in 3 people will be affected by depression at some point in their lives, the stigma is still prevalent, and people tend to be closed minded, unless they know what you are going through or are experiencing it
Remember to live your life
Whilst this seems like common sense, depression
can take its toll on someone’s life, to the point in which they struggle to
accomplish day to day activities. Even leaving the house and getting on with
your day can suddenly be the most strenuous thing. As you wake each day, write down a list of things you want to accomplish, and make an attempt to get through each activity
at your own pace. Take each day as it comes, and try and live in the moment.
You are worthy of love
The most important thing that I had to be
reminded of, regardless as to how bad my depression makes me feel. I am a human
being. I am a sister, daughter, cousin, friend, and colleague. I am worthy of
love. The same is for you, dear reader; never allow depression to tell you
otherwise! You are important and precious to your family, friends and
colleagues also. Stay strong, stay mighty!