Depression: It causes symptoms that may affect how you feel and think. It can make daily tasks a struggle.
Misconception: That being depressed means you are just sad and therefore you can decide to be happy.
Recognising you have depression or being diagnosed with depression can be a hard thing to accept, yet at the same time, I found it very relieving. The reason for the relief is that I started to believe that I was a difficult person to be around and I felt very lost both mentally, physically, and emotionally. However, just like other mental health diagnoses, it is an illness.
- You're always tired, mentally drained, and physically unmotivated.
- Loss of sex as well as other things you may have enjoyed beforehand.
- A constant feeling of isolation, numbness, or body aches.
- Easily frustrated, being paranoid, or restless.
- A change in eating or sleeping patterns.
Depression: Not one person is the same. You may not fall into the stereotypical categories and that's okay. Everyone is different and it doesn't mean how you're feeling is wrong.
Misconception: That because you're not lying about being without a job or friends that you can't possibly have depression. That because you've laughed or smiled, you must be happy. That because there's nothing bad in your life to be "sad" about, then you cannot have this mental illness.
Depression comes in all shapes, sizes, and categories. There isn't one type caused by one thing. It doesn't take a day to fix.
- Serious/stressful life event
- Family history
- Giving birth
- Alcohol/Drug related
Me: Although there aren't any specific genes for depression that have been identified as of yet, there is research that shows that if you have a close family member with depression, you are more likely to experience depression yourself, which makes sense. My mum has depression and her dad had depression. My mum's way to cope was with alcohol and heavy smoking which then for me became a childhood/adulthood issue (neglect, rejection and instability). Alongside that, I also suffer from anxiety; the feeling of distress, overthinking, over-worrying and avoiding situations.
From my own personal experience, it just eats you up from the inside out and sometimes you don't even know it. You want to ask for help and you know that you need to, but asking for it made me feel like a burden. I felt as if I had lost myself, but the hardest thing was that I'd had it for so long without confronting it, so I'd forgotten who I actually was before the "sad and grumpy" me. It wasn't until one day I broke and decided I knew I wasn't born to be this way, so why I was like this? Why do people joke about me being sensitive, paranoid, or grumpy. Why am I being told that I'm difficult to be around?
Anxiety allowed me to believe everyone was against me, and being told to "smile, it might never happen" was the worst thing anyone said to me.
When you're going through depression, you can't just shake it off or just wake up and not have it. You might have a couple of good days followed by bad days. You don't know how long it will last and although it's an illness, it isn't like the flu where your doctor can tell you about how long it will take until you feel yourself again.
For others, there's no booklet upon diagnosis that we can bring home and hand to our loved ones that will explain it's real and this how best to deal with it.
There are many ways for "treatment," although I personally believe no one ever gets over depression. It's something that you learn to deal with and live with. It comes and goes. It feels like a blue, clear day that has black clouds creeping over. It's slow, but you know it's coming. You can have triggers, places, or people that send you back there to that place you don't want to be.
I am on Sertraline. It is a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. People normally start on a dose of 50mg with the maximum being 200mg. It can be used to treat depression, sometimes panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It works by increasing the levels of a mood-enhancing chemical called serotonin in the brain. Although medication isn't for everyone, it does work and can be used safely.
You need to put yourself first. Find what makes you happy. Make a list of activities, people, and places that make you happy or feel good. Use lists to achieve things daily. Start small and don't set yourself up to fail. Get enough sleep, drink water, more exercise, and eat well. Learn as much about your depression as you can and grab life with both hands.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: This therapy can help you think more positively about life and free yourself from unhelpful or distructive patterns of behaviour.
- Psychotherapy: This involves talking about how your past influences what happens in the present and the choices we make. It will help you understand more about yourself, improve your relationships, and get more out of life.
- Family therapy: The therapist explores the relationships to understand the problems the family is having. It helps family members communicate better with each other in a positive and safe environment.
It's important to connect, whether that's with friends, family, or groups. There are many ways to do this and it's about finding what works best for you.
- Local support groups
- Close friends
- Online sufferers
- Online counseling
Life still continues with depression. Remember you are still you and depression doesn't make you any less of a person. There's still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness and people still don't really understand it. All you can do is explain how depression affects you as an individual to the people you need to understand. My person was my dad. I explained what I could. I was patient and allowed him to ask questions. He may not fully get what the illness is, but at least I know he took the time to listen and understand me. It's not something that will go away over night and not an illness that you should allow to affect your future no matter how much it may be affecting your present.
"All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost" - J.R.R.
The photography is by Grace Katheryn Photography © and she is my sister therefore I have permission to use them.