Heya guys! How’s things going? Me… I’m absolutely fine and all. Just had a bit of a restless sleep after coming back from work last night feeling tired and not all that brilliant, but right now… I feel fine.
Okay, so… Yesterday (10th October) was World Mental Health Day, and as someone who’s been through severe depression attacks – and they were severe. At times, I was suicidally depressed. – I wanna say something, not just to those who are suffering from depression, but also to those who has friends or family who are suffering from those.
(I should also stress, depression is only one of the causes of mental health illness – there are other mental health issues, but I don’t feel like I’m qualified enough to talk about those. Hopefully some of what I says for those people who are worried about family or friends can find something useful…)
First of all, to those that are depressed… You are not alone. That’s probably the most important thing you need to remember. I know it doesn’t sound like much, and on its own, it’s not. But if you suffer from depression – or any other mental health issue – knowing that there are people out there who knows something of what it’s like, or knowing that you have that support network around you… That’s important. In my case, knowing that I could go and talk to people was important for me.
Secondly – and this is probably just as important – don’t feel like you have to stay quiet, or feel like people won’t understand you. There will be some that won’t understand – trust me, I’ve had friends who told me to “get over it”, I’ve had family members who blame themselves for my depression and made it worse for me – but there will be others who will listen to you, and they will talk with you. Some of them will have bad advice, some will have good advice, but regardless… Talk with those people who are willing to listen, and ask them to come with you, or help you find a psychologist, or support group… Something like that. I know that sounds really easy to do, but it’s not. When I had a friend who told me to get over it, I was… Honest, it felt like she tore me to pieces and I just went even more withdrawn, I just felt like I couldn’t even talk to her anymore. When that family member started blaming themselves for my depression, I just couldn’t face them any more, and started shutting myself out in my bedroom. Thankfully, I did eventually manage to talk to someone else who didn’t say anything. They just sat there and held my hand (or me, on occasions) and let me cry and pour it out. And later, they came with me to the doctor’s to talk to them about the whole thing. Not to say anything, but just to give me that extra bit of support and encouragement. Because I don’t know if I would’ve managed to pluck up the courage to speak to the doctor’s about it without that friend.
And thankfully, the doctor was good enough to recognise the fact that it was severe depression, and referred me to the psychologist who come to the surgery one day every week to talk to.
Now, you may not need a psychologist – all you might need is a friend to give you that support – but the important thing is, you need to talk about it.
And the reason you need to talk about it is what leads to my third point. Find out what the cause of depression is. In some cases, it’s easy to work out. In others… It’s not so easy. In my case, it basically boiled down to the fact that I was starting to feel lonely and excluded. And by excluded, I means the fact that I’m deaf means I tends to miss out on what people are talking about, and I was feeling like I couldn’t talk about anything with anyone. Even with my best friends, I was getting to the point where all we could talk about was “hey, hiya!” and then talk about blah boring general topics that neither of us had any interest in… “So how’s the weather?” and all that… *shakes head*
But that wasn’t the only thing that was going on. Because I was getting more withdrawn, I was basically seeking solace in books and DVDs and games… And as it turned out, some of the subject matters that I was reading, watching, whatever was actually making me feel worse. I’d read a very heavy book about… Well, it’s not any one specific matter, it’s how it makes you feel throughout the story. If it keeps on really pushing at you and your feelings and not letting up… That’s what been causing it for me. And that’s why I had to go through books and DVDs and the like to remove all those things that can cause triggers in me.
Not only that, but I was also suffering from the whole Winter thing. It doesn’t help matters much that my birthday’s in January, which means that the amount of daytime I have is about 7 hours or so. *smh* It just makes it feel like I have a far shorter amount of time to celebrate my birthday, compared with some others, and that just made me feel worse. And it just got worse ever since I’ve started working, because you’re spending pretty much your whole time inside the freaking office and you’re starting work before it gets light, and you’re leaving it after it gots dark! *frustrated scream*
So… Yeah. I actually had a lot of things that were working against me. Which is why I needed to talk to someone to actually get to the bottom of it all. And that’s what you need to do. Talk to someone, try to get to the bottom of what’s causing the depression and try to come up with solutions for it.
For example, for me… First off, the whole loneliness and exclusion thing. Well, I’ve lost a large number of friends ever since my first depression, but those that are left, I love them even more. With most of them, I genuinely feel like I can talk to them about anything – doesn’t matter how personal or private it is. And in order to help me cope even better, I decided to start tweeting and blogging – like this site! – and it does helps. Because I feel like I can actually talk and write about things, instead of having to keep it all bottled up.
Books and DVDs and the like… Well, I’ve cut out a whole lot of things out that could potentially give me triggers. Doesn’t means I can’t read or watch things, but I need to be careful and I do read/watch something that could be bad for me, I do it in small amounts, and stop it as soon as I start feeling bad.
Winter… I’ve got two lightboxes now. A big one at my place, and now a smaller one at work. By using them every day that’ll give me more natural light. I’m also trying to make sure that I do go out at least once every weekend. Doesn’t matter where, could just be to the shops or just a general walk around, the important thing is, get out there, enjoy the natural daylight regardless of the weather. It’s not always fun but… *shrugs* Better than being cooped up in a building all day long. I need to feel free, and by staying indoors, it was like I was feeling trapped.
To those that are reading this and are thinking about a particular friend or family member… The one key important part that you need to do for that person: Don’t dismiss what they’re feeling, or blame anyone – whether you, them, or anyone else – for it. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers – because you won’t. Just be there for them, and let them know that if they need you for anything, you’ll be there. If they want your help to find a psychologist, or to go with them to a support group, whatever it is, you’ll do it. It will not be easy, it will take time and you’ll feel like you’re not doing anything for them, but trust me… For most people I know (including myself), that feeling of having someone right there… That really does matter for us, because it means that we’re not alone. Even if you don’t really understand why we’ve got this mental health problem, don’t go saying “Oh, just look at you, you’re absolutely fine, think about people worse than you, blah blah blah…” Sorry to be so blunt, but when you’re suffering from mental health problems… We know there’s bound to be someone that’s worse than us. Doesn’t make us feel any better! And just telling us to get over it… Do you really think it’d be that easy??
Even for me, in my case… It still took me ages to really truly get over my severe depression. In honest fact, I think sometimes that it never really went away, I just had moments where I felt almost back to being myself, and it’s only like recently that I honestly feel much better than I have been for… Over a decade.
Now I’m not saying I’ve been depressed for over a decade, but I can’t remember ever feeling like this since I was in my early teens. It’s like… Even though sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten rid of it, it was just lying dormant inside me, just waiting for Winter or something else to trigger off the whole attack again.
And now? Hmm… Well, I’m not gonna say I’m free of it. I dunno if I can ever be truly free from it. But the fact that I’m now just free to say what I want to say – whether blogging it, or talking with friends – and that I’m not having to keep anything back, the fact that I got rid of pretty much everything that could possible trigger something in me, the fact that I’ve got lightboxes and going outside more often than before… I’m doing what I can to make sure I keep myself free from having my depression come back again.
But for those of you who are suffering from any kind of mental health issue… I dunno if anything of what I’ve written is any good, but I hope it helped a little bit. But the important thing is… Seriously, don’t feel like you’re alone, because you’re not.