Depression, & why we need to start talking
Last week wasn’t a good week for me as depression decided to pay me a visit.
So, today I thought I would start a conversation that is long overdue:
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 24, by chance.
I had had it for pretty much my entire life (if the stories I wrote as a child are anything to go by) and my teenage years were heavily shaped by it.
Unfortunately, no one really noticed the behavioural changes, no one thought to ask if I was ok throughout my teens or as a young adult. At the time I didn’t realise I was depressed, and I was so caught up in my depression that speaking up, speaking out about what I was experiencing, how I was feeling, was never going to happen.
After all – who would listen to me? I was pointless, useless, lonely and alone.
If I was worth listening to, worth helping, then someone would have noticed that I wasn’t ok. Someone would see the tears, would read the cries for help in my writing. I was clear as day in my poetry that I was unwell, but given the fact that no one saw what was wrong? Well, it only confirmed my feelings of worthlessness.
I had seen psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors, and they all thought I was a shining beacon of normalcy. They saw the bright, theatrical exterior, but not that black core that was off hiding in the corner with its suitcase full of self-loathing.
There were many years of self-harm, of alcohol abuse, of dangerous behaviours, until one day a chance, offhand comment by a neurologist lead to my diagnosis.
When I was 24, I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder and one of the symptoms of it was depression. For the first time in my life someone finally knew what I had, knew what I was dealing with, and for the first time in my life, someone asked me if I was ok.
And for the first time I finally admitted to myself that no, I wasn’t ok.
I finally realised that I wasn’t worthless, I wasn’t hopeless.
I was simply experiencing the effects of depression.
I’ve spoken before about my metabolic disorder, and how it means that I can’t take most medications. After my diagnosis by the neurologist (later confirmed by a psychiatrist) I was prescribed medications to treat my depression (and anxiety) however none were of any assistance.
The psychiatrist realised that no medication was going to work in order to treat me, so if a glass of wine helped my anxiety and insomnia, then to have a glass of wine. But my depression? Well, just go for a walk! Join a gym!
He wasn’t a very good doctor, needless to say.
So, without medication to help me balance these chemicals in my brain that were causing me these depressive episodes, I had no choice but to look into alternative therapies, natural remedies, and non-chemical treatments to help manage my depressive moods.
There are many ways to treat depression – from acupuncture through to TMS Therapy – and your doctor or specialist will be able to help you discover what works best for you. Not all treatments are suitable for all people, but there are always options, always ways to help.
For me, I realised that it wasn’t just about finding the right treatment for my depression (which is, of course, incredibly important), but learning to speak about it; I needed to learn to speak and to ask for help I needed.
Last week wasn’t a good week for me as depression decided to bring a packed suitcase and settle into the corner of my mind for a wee visit.
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that every now and then depression decides to not only visit, but take over my life. It’s something that’s difficult for me to discuss, to admit, but each and every time depression starts to needle its way into my life I make sure I do speak.
I make sure I am heard, because I am worthy of being heard.
See, this is a huge problem amongst those who suffer depression as the beast itself, by its very nature, makes us feel like our voices have no weight, that we’re not worth listening to.
It’s why so often we discover too late that a person was suffering from depression: it’s hard to hold a conversation with someone who doesn’t feel their voice is important, who doesn’t feel their voice has any value. And it can be hard enough to recognise that we are, in fact, depressed, let alone be asked to speak out about it due to those overwhelming feelings that depression imposes upon us.
We not only need recognise when we’re depressed, but learn to ask for help, learn to value ourselves and these are processes that require time, patience, and understanding from those around us. We need to believe, no matter how difficult it may seem, that our voices deserve to be heard, that our words are important and hold value.
Even if it is only in a whisper – it’s a whisper worth hearing.
If you suffer, live, or experience depression, please know your voice is worthy of being heard, and you are deserving of being helped, no matter what the chemicals in our brains are trying to convince us otherwise.
Trust me when I say you are not your depression, you are not worthless nor hopeless, and you contribution to the conversation around depression is not only valuable, but essential.
We want to hear you.
This post was sponsored by TMS Health Solutions, who offer comprehensive psychiatry services, including TMS and medication management, for people with clinical depression and other mental health conditions.