Depression

When I was 15 (17 years ago now) depression finally took hold of me and knocked me into a breakdown. This is my story...

I was in the final year of secondary school and I had been struggling with a mixture of family issues, social anxieties and exam stress.  By the time I realised that I wasn't coping it was already too late, everything had simply caught up with me and I broke. I couldn't go out and couldn't talk, the only thing that I seemed capable of doing was crying, the sadness was unbearable. The word that always sticks out in my mind from those days is 'overwhelming' - overwhelming emotions, overwhelming sadness, overwhelming darkness and an overwhelming inability to function as a person which left me feeling like a complete failure. My school was incredible, they arranged a home tutor and even made it possible for me to sit my exams at home. Without this I would've been left with no qualifications and my future wouldn't have looked so bright.

In my opinion there is a big difference between feeling down and feeling depressed. I've heard many people say "we all get down sometimes, just deal with it" and I suppose I can see why they would think like that because, unless you've been to that place, it's difficult to understand. I sometimes feel that the word 'depression' is thrown around far too easily and I guess this is why people are sceptical. To be honest I would probably be the same if I hadn't experienced it first-hand.

Thankfully I haven't crossed over to the dark side since my teens, I still have worries and the odd down day but I'm able to manage them thanks to a fantastic councillor I saw all those years ago, her words have stayed with me throughout my life and I'd love to thank her for that. Something that I've used many times is the classic 'good side of me, bad side of me', she taught me to listen to each side and then make a decision about which side I wanted to give credence to.  It's amazing how taking a minute to stop and think about both sides can clear your mind and make you see things in a better light! Even starting this blog caused the bad side of me to step out and tell me not to bother because nobody will be interested in what I have to say, that I'll sound stupid and people will laugh at me. Obviously I refused to listen to that side, once again the good side won because I did start this blog and I'm absolutely loving it!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm by no means an expert but these are a few of the strategies that have helped me manage myself and my feelings over the years:
  • Talk to yourself - yes I know this might sound a bit crazy and I've only done it out loud when I've been alone, but it really works! Talk yourself through whatever your good side and bad side are telling you, sometimes saying it out loud helps put things into perspective. Sometimes you just need to ask yourself "what's the worst that could happen?" and often you'll find the answer is that actually, nothing really bad or life-threatening is going to happen. This always led me to wonder why I had let it affect me so much.
  • Allow yourself to have down days - it's completely OK and normal to feel down sometimes. I used to really beat myself up about feeling down, I would tell myself that I was a useless person for feeling that way but that just created a cycle of negative thoughts which pulled me further towards depression. You have to let yourself experience some bad feelings and not try to cover them up, it might take minutes or it might take days to ease off but if you let those emotions have their moment and don't blame yourself for them you can then move on more easily when it's over.
  • Do something you love - this can be a tricky one if you're feeling particularly down because then doing anything at all can be a struggle. However, doing something that will make you smile, even if it's just sitting down to read a book, is a great step towards bringing yourself up again.  I strongly believe that my husband and children have been major factors in my depression-free days because when they're around I just can't help but smile, they truly are my happy place!
  • Take small steps - I was told quite a few times to "snap out of it" but it really isn't that easy. Every small success is a step forward in my book and even if you take a step back straight afterwards it doesn't matter, the important thing is that you're still trying. Count up every step and eventually they'll turn into big (confident) steps but remember there's no rush, you need to go at your own pace.
This has been a difficult post for me to write because I rarely talk about my breakdown, I prefer people not to know about it because I don't want what happened back then to define me now. I'm sharing my story because I want anyone who is going through the darkness right now to know that it can, and will, get better. Just keep fighting, please don't let the darkness keep you because the light at the end of the tunnel is so worth it!
When the Dust Settles

Comments

  1. This is a fantastic blog post and very brave, your tips are what I use a lot and they do work. I often talk things through with myself including starting a blog as well. Xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I was quite nervous about posting this so I really appreciate your lovely comment! x

      Delete
  2. Great post. I've had depression too and it's hard to describe how you feel to others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I agree it's very hard to describe your feelings of depression to others, it's a difficult thing to admit to yourself too!

      Delete
  3. Great post Kate.

    I've had councilling and CBT. I've also used EFT. My natural inclination is towards depression I think as sometimes the world totally overwhelms me.

    I found it hard when the boys were younger when I was signed off work for 3 months as they could see an illness such as a broken limb etc but they couldn't understand depression. It was a mixture of the serotonin meds and positive thinking that I managed to claw myself out of that pit.

    Mindset is so important. I found a blessings journal helped me too.

    Depression and mental health is still a stigma and not understood (in my opinion). Charities and organisations are doing great things to bring it into the public awareness though.

    Thanks for sharing Kate x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A blessings journal is a great idea, it's so easy to forget all the good things you have in life when you're feeling so low. I agree that the charities and organisations are doing a great job of raising public awareness but sadly there are still many sceptics out there.

      Thank you for sharing your experience Shaz x

      Delete
  4. Good post and we'll done for writing and publishing is. Mental health and depression is still misunderstood posts like these will help so many. I know from my experiences that you've described it clearly and some of your tips are great too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Martyn, I think with all the press regarding this subject at the moment it's even more important for people to share their experiences to hopefully help those going through it right now!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :)

      Delete
  5. Thank you for being so open and honest, discussing depression and other mental health aspects with the world is a great way to raise awareness and let others know they are not alone.

    I too have heard the "we all get down sometimes" and as true as that is depression is way more, it is physical as well as mental (at least it was for me).

    Thank you for linking up to my mental health awareness linky, hopefully we can help others with our stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do hope so! It took me many years to be able to talk openly about it and I think that's half the problem, mental health issues can make you feel ashamed or weak. If by sharing our experiences we can help even one person realise they have nothing to be ashamed of and they certainly aren't weak then it's a massive win.

      Thank you for stopping by and also for hosting the linky :)

      Delete

Post a Comment