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In my experience, and probably a lot of others too, depression is something you would not wish on your worst enemy. It consumes every inch of you and holds on tight, it pulls you down, further than you thought you could ever go, and most of the time it feels like it’ll keep you down there forever.
In my case, I was depressed for a lot longer than I cared to admit, in fact I didn’t even realise that I was until the end of March. I was unhappy at work, I was unhappy with my body, I was unhappy with some serious issues that were going on within my family, and instead of seeking help, I held it in, kept telling myself that it’ll all get better soon. But soon enough, that dark monster that is depression started growing bigger and bigger, taking over my thoughts at first, then taking over me physically, whether it was breaking down at work, neglecting my partner or neglecting myself, it took over me completely, and I was totally oblivious.
I didn’t go to a doctor for two poignant reasons. Reason one, I honestly didn’t think I was as bad as I apparently was, and reason two, the thought of going to a doctor and explaining the ‘problem’, only to have them tell me I was ‘overreacting’ or ‘being silly’, absolutely terrified me. That was my anxiety talking, something I will touch on in another post.
When I finally sought help, I wasn’t very optimistic, as I had watched my own father unfortunately slip through the cracks and be repeatedly let down by the mental health services in his area. However, after my first doctor’s appointment, I was given help pretty much straight away. I was given numbers to call, counsellors to set up appointments with, and medication. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I finally did, and I was on the right course to getting better.
Obviously, it’s never as easy as it sounds on paper. I personally liken depression to an ocean. It's calm, serene, and peaceful, and then in the blink of an eye, it's choppy, ferocious and hell bent on taking you down to the depths of the ocean floor. One minute I can appear and feel content, happy, even normal to some extent, but just like an ocean has dangerous undercurrents, so does my mind. As happy as I may seem to outsiders, there is an almost constant trickle of bad/miserable/hurtful thoughts. I want to emphasise the word ‘almost’, as it’s not a 24/7 occurrence anymore. I think my medication has helped heaps with that, however those thoughts are still there. I’m hoping that my newly started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions will help me to further better myself.
The one thing that really gets me down about depression, is those horrible thoughts that swim around your mind. Especially when you’re having a good, positive day, where absolutely nothing in particular can trigger an episode of misery, except your own brain, your own chemical imbalance. It can literally come out of nowhere and really dampen your spirits for what feels like an eternity. It feels like a darkness has swallowed you up and it takes a lot of fighting to see the light again.
That darkness is something that can totally dominate your entire thought process. For me, sometimes I become silent, angry, irritable. Other times I become so hysterically distraught I cry until I’m hoarse. This unpredictable darkness, coupled with the fact that I am grieving from a traumatic death within my family, makes for not a whole lot of calm in my downtime. Sometimes I can distract myself, by writing, reading, drawing, cleaning. Other times I just let it consume me, because in some ways it's healthy to cry, it can lift a weight off of your shoulders.
Medication is a tricky topic. Some people really benefit, others really don’t. And medical professionals don’t beat around the bush when they tell you that it gets worse before it gets better. As I’m sure anyone who has ever taken antidepressants will tell you, those quiet, evil, suicidal thoughts suddenly start screaming at you. Screaming louder than you ever thought was possible. You quite simply cannot think of anything else, and almost no amount of distractions can stop them taking over your day to day life. The driving difference between having suicidal thoughts and acting on them, in my opinion and based on experience, is that those who do not act, have some slither of strength, some small support system, some minuscule reason to possibly want to keep going, to keep fighting through those truly awful first few weeks of taking the medication. To live. I have a few very strong reasons, hopes and dreams, but they were enough to allow me to push through and ride it out. I am more than aware that for a lot of people, that doesn’t transpire. They can’t see that light, they are so all consumed by that darkness, they are almost touching the ocean floor, and it makes all the sense in the world to disappear.
Depression is a silent killer; too many people are pulled down by its currents, and for too large a percentage of those people have been getting swept away and taken from us. My advice would be, to anyone who reads this, to anyone who thinks they may suffer from depression, or know someone who might, please, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Aim to get all the help you can. Reach out to friends, family, doctors, counsellors, because it can get better. I’m certain of that.