When I was 19, I was really struggling with getting through day to day without breaking into tears or feeling like the world was imploding. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with depression, swiftly followed by a prescription of happy tablets and a place on a long list for an appointment with an NHS therapist.
Cut to the present day and I have been happy pill free for a few years now. I have a busy life full of exciting plans and people who love me, and although I work hard to look on the bright side and maintain a positive outlook on life, there are days when the Dementors still pay me a visit.
Of all the depression comparisons, I think J.K.Rowling got it spot on with her joy-stealing monsters. I remember reading somewhere that she had purposefully modelled the demons on her own experiences with depression, and thus a lightbulb turned on in my head. Feeling like there is no joy left in the world? Check. Struggling to remember the good things in life even if you were happy ten minutes ago, or yesterday, or last week? Check. A sense of failure that you are struggling to stay afloat when other people seem to cope with life’s problems better than you? Triple check with a big red pen, in bold and underlined three times.
I post many things through my different social media accounts about depression – sometimes they are attempts to perk up, little quotes about getting through the day that a lot of people dismiss as overly flowery and sentimental, but in come the likes and shares and I know there are people out there who needed that little boost too. Other days, I read something so profound about the disease, and a disease is exactly what it is, that I have to share it and those little thumbs ups clocking up at the bottom of the post show me that I am not alone.
I know very few people who have come out of the mental health closet and shared the faults of the chemicals in their brains, but I have a pretty good idea that I am part of an invisible community of sufferers, copers and people on an never-ending mission to keep their chins up. To this community I say thank you for letting me know I am not alone without even saying a word, and I hope you know you’ve got company.
I know it is hard to admit you have a problem. I know mental health issues do not receive the time, patience or treatment they desperately need. I know the stigma surrounding them means people will try to brush off their problem, or not seek the help they need, or feel they do not deserve help at all.
I know there are people who will read this and nod along with such agreement but could still never say it out loud – I know exactly where you are coming from and I know for some people, it’s just easier to keep it to yourself. If I ever mention suffering to people I know, the response I get is often ‘But you’re so cheerful! You always have lots of energy! You’re so happy!’ – it is for that reason itself that I am writing this, to show that no matter who you are or how you may seem, depression does not discriminate.
I believe that a condition like depression never really leaves you, but there are ways of coping. There are bad ways, like online shopping and alcohol and being horrible about other people to make yourself feel better..and there are good ways, like making time to do what makes you happy, strengthening your relationships and looking after your health. There will be days when you can’t even pull yourself out of bed and there will be days where depression will be a tiny dot buried deep beneath all the lovely things in your head.
I am on a personal voyage to make the happy days outnumber the unhappy days – the first successful step for me was realising that the unhappy ones will never go away, it’s just how we cope with them and how much gravitas we give them that makes a difference. I am going to use this blog to try and outlet how this voyage is going, the good stuff and the trickier bits too.
To anyone who is reading this and suffering/struggling/coping/nodding along, it can be hard to admit you are depressed but whether you blog about it or keep it inside your own head, you’re not on your own.