Onwards and Upwards

When I decided to come out of the chemically-imbalanced closet and share my experiences with depression in a blog post yesterday, I could not have imagined the response it would receive.

Writing the piece was pure therapy for me – I am a rambler at heart, so condensing the chaos that is depression into a dinky passage was an achievement in itself. Clicking ‘submit’ brought another wave of relief, but I knew I would not feel I had truly made progress until I shared it with those around me.

Clicking ‘share’ brought more complicated feelings. As I clicked the button that put my innermost thoughts out there in HTML for everyone to see, I panicked that people would not understand. I worried that my friends and accquaintances would read it and feel differently about me. I worried that they would think me a martyr for complaining about why I get down sometimes when surely everyone feels that way from time to time. I worried that people would not understand, and I would feel stupid for putting myself out there.

Well, how wrong was I! Over the past day or so, over 577 people so far from all over the world have read my blog post and I have received many messages in response. I have been contacted by close friends and people I knew years ago and people I don’t know at all; people from different backgrounds and with different personalities; people who are quiet in nature and people who are the life and soul of the party, and all these people suffer with depression in some shape or form.

The most common factor in all these messages and notes was that people were not ready to ‘come out’ to friends and loved ones about their own experience with depression, but they knew exactly how I was feeling and they felt better reading about an experience they could relate to.

It made me sad and it made me angry that all these lovely, sparkly people have been suffering in silence when the party ends and night time comes. But it made me happy that even just a little blog post can give someone a little silver lining and make them feel that they’re not alone in their troubles.

To all the people who read, liked, shared, commented, messaged or just nodded along, thank you for proving that depression is something we need to talk about and something we can get through together. You have inspired and encouraged me to keep writing about my journey, the happy days and the unhappy ones, and to give a bit of a voice to those suffering with the shitty chemical imbalance that is depression.

If anyone at all, whether I know you or not, would like to talk, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me – the textual door is always open and I am happy to help where I can.

I hope you find comfort in this journey, and I hope you find peace in your own. Let’s do this!

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The Dementors

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.

Everybody has to start somewhere…

I miss writing. When I was little, you had to be careful in my vicinity in case I randomly treated you to a poem about hamsters or my own interpretation of a Dalziel and Pascoe episode (hello Year 6 SATs creative writing exercise…). 

Then boys, shopping and alcopops came along and the keyboard began to gather dust unless MSN messenger was involved. I reluctantly resumed key tapping to complete a degree in languages but since then, unless social media or ASOS are involved it’s unlikely I’m tapping anything useful.

Now I’m almost 25 (shudder) and writing is cool again. People are actually making a living from their musings and the ability to fit snippets of said musings into 140 characters every now and then. I think the number one problem with a blog is ‘what will I write about?’. It’s all well and good if you’re into politics or a music genre no-one without a beard has heard of yet or you like testing lip liners, but if you just like stuff it’s a bit trickier.

So I propose to write about stuff in all it’s glory.

The fun stuff, like my favourite new lipstick shades, the perfect gin punch recipe and that 6 minute video of corgis running in slow motion.

The good stuff, like making positive changes in my life, maintaining relationships which only gets harder as we get older and how I’m getting on with my business.

The trickier stuff, like how I sometimes struggle to balance my identity as a British citizen with a rich Ukrainian heritage that fills my life, or how I have struggled with depression since my late teens and am on an ever-winding journey to find ways to keep my spirits up.

Pinches of all that, with a healthy dose of bright photos and words of wisdom from people much wiser than I am.  

I hope that writing down my thoughts, ideas and rambles will help me on my path to loving myself, my life and my path, and if you fancy hopping along or just laughing at some of the downright ridiculous things I get myself into, there’s always space on the journey. 

Ready? x