This week it’s Depression Awareness Week. Did you know that 1 in 5 people suffer from depression at some point in their lives, with women more likely to be affected as well as 10% of children! It is an illness that few people understand or know how to deal with, something I know from my own experiences.
I was diagnosed with depression in 2001, the year I started university. I have always been ‘sensitive’ I suppose you could say (and was told by a teacher when I was being bullied at school) and it runs in my family so I suppose I was quite susceptible to it. After being bullied on many occasions throughout my school life and once more being submitted to it at university, I found it all too much. I stopped going out, yet I didn’t want to be on my own, I cried all the time and I struggled to concentrate on anything for a period of time. I did stupid things such as running away from my friends in the middle of the night, locking myself in my room for hours and breaking down in a room full of people for no real reason. My friends at the time were great and were there for me as much as they could be. In the end I saw a doctor and asked for a referral to a psychiatrist to get some answers. This doctor told me he didn’t believe I was depressed but referred me at my insistence. My mum came to the psychiatrist appointment with me and I remember sitting in the chair, my legs scrunched up under and my head hung low. The relief when he told me there was something wrong and I wasn’t just being over-sensitive or imagining it all was more than I can tell you. He prescribed antidepressants and I was advised to speak to a counsellor.
|At my lowest at university, although you wouldn’t know it|
I was on those tablets for about eighteen months and although I wasn’t hugely keen on being reliant on drugs, I understood that they helped clear the fog in my head and enabled me to then look at the problems behind my depression.
After going through such a hard time I thought it was all behind me. I met my husband, graduated from university, bought a house and got married. However when yet again I came across a bully, this time in the form of my employer, I once again fell back into my old ways. This time I wasn’t ill as long but my emotions were a lot more extreme and I know my husband struggled to deal with them. I could be on top of the world one minute, then screaming hysterically the next. I remember, not understanding how to deal with things, he would treat me as you would a paddying child and ignore me so as not to ‘encourage’ my bad behaviour. This only served to make things worse and I did stupid things like jumping out of a moving car (fortunately I did not injur myself or anyone else), banging my head against a wall or threatening to throw myself down the stairs. These are things I’m quite ashamed to admit, but they were all cries for attention when I felt my husband had turned his back on me. Of course I in no way blame my husband, and he was a great support for me when I had few other people to rely on. Who knows how he did it.
|My ever-supportive husband|
Depression is a horrible thing to go through. When i was ill, I felt i was weak, like I wasn’t a strong enough person to cope with my problems and pathetic for not standing up to the people who treated me badly and inevitably led to me becoming ill. It is also an illness that if you haven’t experience you will never understand. You can never comprehend the cotton wool-like fog that takes over your brain, making it impossible to think straight and sometimes even answer a basic question. Or the blackness that surrounds you for no reason and makes you feel you will never claw your way out of. One of my biggest fears is that I will once more sink back there and when I was pregnant with my daughter I was sure I would develop Post-Natal Depression. Fortunately a spell of the baby blues was the worst of it for me, although that was enough to convince me that my fears has been realised.
|My little family today|
Today I am in a much better place, probably the best I have ever been. I have a stable family life, I surround myself with people I know are there for me and I can rely on and if I ever have a problem there are many people I can talk to for support and advice. I am so grateful that those days are over, but the fear will always remain that they will return. I just have to hope that I will get through those times too, as I have done before.
If you think you or your loved one is suffering, there are several places you can go to for help and advice. The greatest advice I can give to anyone is don’t suffer alone. Depression is not something to be ashamed of or something that you should just ‘get over’. Reach out and get some support, you aren’t alone.
Please support Depression Awareness Week by donating or sharing your own story at the Depression Alliance website.