Depression is not a nice thing. I think we all know that, despite the fact that sometimes depression (and all mental illness really) seems to me as the last real taboo in our society. It’s estimated that 9.2% of people in the UK suffer from depression, and yet it is never talked about openly. There is an advertising campaign currently making the rounds featuring Stephen Fry, amongst others, talking openly about their experiences with depression and other mental illnesses. So I figured I would too.
I was diagnosed with depression almost 2 years ago, thanks to a tutor at college who cared enough to notice that I was permanently ‘down’. She suspected that I was depressed, and lo and behold she was right. I attended counselling sessions for almost a year but then quit as soon as I saw the first glimmer of hope. I didn’t really like my counsellor – he was too patronising; he thought he knew exactly how I felt when I liked to think that I was a bit harder to figure out than he thought. I deeply regret giving up when its likely that the actual therapy was working for me, just that the therapist wasn’t. But what’s done is done.
During the initial bout of my depression that lead to me being diagnosed (and this is not to say that it was the first episode ever – I don’t doubt for a minute that I’ve had it, or at least some sort of anxiety disorder, my whole life) I was one of those typical cases whereby I couldn’t face the outside world and would retreat to the comfort of my own bed in a bid to hide away from all the things that scared me. The list of things that scared me was never ending, and included, at times, my own family. It’s a scary thing, when it takes hold of you and your emotions and just does not let go. I found myself crying at the drop of a hat, my mood at a permanent low, sometimes feeling so bad I’d become scared of myself and what I could do. I certainly never attempted anything stupid but nevertheless, it was a frightening thought to know that it could be done in a drop of a hat, and more importantly, that I wouldn’t care too much about it.
So, like I said, I sought help and it sort of worked, but mostly didn’t. These days i’m incredibly careful about how I treat myself and my moods. Sounds pathetic, I know, but if I let myself get too worked up about something, it has the potential to ruin my day and more importantly, my self-worth, confidence, mood and has the potential to turn into something long-term.
Even the smallest things can erode my mood and I have to stop myself, think about the situation and ask myself if its really worth it. Because most of the time, it’s not.
However much I hate it, I accept that I have this and the liklihood is that it’ll be with me for the rest of my life. For me, it has come from my parents – or, well, if the genetic link to depression is true, then it has. My dad has suffered from depression and anxiety issues for most of his life and it seems that my mother has also suffered from an anxiety-related disorder. I do worry about the future, from more immediate issues such as how i’ll cope when I go to university in September and have to basically start over, to how i’ll cope if my issues are passed on to any children I may have.
I fully support ‘Time To Change’, which is a campaign to end mental health discrimination. The need to educate the general public on such issues is long overdue, and i’m pleased that such a big campaign is currently running. People (and this by no means applies to everyone, of course) seem to think that if you’re depressed, you’re somehow weird and not worth knowing. Whereas I truly believe that some of the people who suffer from mental illnesses can be the most intelligent, creative people – a good example being Stephen Fry.