What It's Like, Living With Depression, For Me


I'm keen to continue to raise awareness about mental health and one way I can do that is through my blog. Writing about it, I feel, not only helps me offload, I hope that is also helps others find strength in the knowledge that they are not alone. Mental health causes a lonely reality in your head, it can make you feel like you are the only one and you can even begin to question whether you are in fact poorly or whether you've just got "stuck in a rut".
Despite a lot of people in the world walking around with blinkers on, because in truth they don't want to deal with someone "moaning", mental health issues exist all around us:
  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.
  • It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem
I admit, everyone's situation is different. Some deal with it better than others; some take medication, some have natural or herbal remedies, some have overcome the majority of their obstacles and some don't know the way out anymore. But despite it being a difficult and risky to talk about it in my position, I feel like I have no other option if this is one way I can not only help myself, but help someone else, even in a very small way, somewhere in the world.

So, what is it like?
Since I became diagnosed with depression, and I was put on a course of medication, I know it is something I battle with constantly. I no longer take medication, I'm averse to it at the moment, but there are days I really struggle to put on a smile, get out of bed and pretend the world is amazing. It's a battle that often gives me headache, sometimes for days, because of the WWIII going on in my head, mixed with the frustration that I can't stop it. I can't stop feeling crap and it's so hard to drag yourself up and out of the black hole you're falling. Sometimes it's just so tiring and you have no energy to fight it anymore.

Have you ever / do you ever
  • woken up on a morning and felt like you've been awake all night. Had a feeling that you're already tired tomorrow, before tomorrow even arrives. Had a feeling that you just can't get enough sleep, that you're actually tired of being tired?
  • felt like you just can't smile or be happy, not physically but emotionally. Like, somehow, it's become an actual chore to feel like laughing, smiling and feeling free; a chore because it seems such a distant reality
  • walked past people on your commute and felt as though every single one of the people you pass has looked at you in a negative way? Then processed those thoughts in to, "what have I done wrong?" or "why don't they like me," or even "do I have something on my face, what are they all looking at and laughing about?"
  • been looking forward to a night out with friends, a get together, any type of occasion, only to get to the day and spend the majority of it thinking of an excuse you can make - so that you're not just "cancelling", again, as usual?
  • felt like you're arguing with yourself constantly. For example, knowing deep down that you're strong and can beat anything, but feeling worthless and weak?
  • constantly feel like you are a let down to those around you?
  • felt as though you have very few friends, that people just don't like you and that you're just an odd one out in most social situations?

This is how I feel, daily. That isn't because I'm on the edge, this is just what my experience is with the illness that I've got. Yes, I have good days. Sometimes I feel more lifted than other days and less challenged. Some days I end smiling, some days I end over-thinking every aspect of what is going to happen or what has happened.

Having depression is a constant battle. I believe it makes me introverted, which in return causes me to have very few friends. It can make me sad, which people interpret as moody, which in return makes people view me in a different light. It stops me being, who I think I am, deep down - but it is also what makes me stronger, every day.

The sad thing about the perceptions of others is that - I would help anyone. I care, deeply, about people and their feelings and I would listen and support absolutely anyone. That's just who I am. Yet, likely for the reasons above, people just don't "like me", and that's hard to live with daily too. But I'm learning to not care as much! Because as harsh as that sounds, self-care is more important than caring for others. Truthfully, if you can't look after yourself, how can you look after anyone else?

My wife and my children are the most precious people to me. My wife lifts my up on a daily basis, she is a strength I never knew I could have. They all make me smile and feel better. They make me feel loved, cared for and most of all - make me feel human. My wife and my children are the reasons I still get up each day, despite the fact I could just lay in bed and shy away from the world.

Despite everything, I know it will get easier, one day. The pressures will ease, the fog will clear. The light at the end of the tunnel will stop being a train and it will become actual light, permanently. Everything will seem more real, more fresh. My mind will be clear and I will be the person I know I can be. I just have to find the key to the box and put this illness inside, lock it with a key and sit on the box.

Regardless of who you are, you will get through any mental illness you are suffering. There is always a way out and always an open door, you just have to find it and have the courage to step through. Be strong. Because you matter, regardless of what you think now, you do matter. Always remember that. And whilst I aren't promising your illness will ever "go away permanently", because mine hasn't - you can learn to put it in the box and sit on it! Keep it where it belongs, banging and screaming and making you work to keep it there - but eventually, it'll just get easier. Really, it will.

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