About four years ago now, I was diagnosed at the time with depression and anxiety and as such, I began a course of medication as-well-as regular visits to a counsellor. The joys.
The counsellor was a lovely bloke, however, I couldn’t hack being spoken to like I was stupid (which on reflection I wasn’t) and I couldn’t grasp what I thought were silly little tasks. Little did I realise at the time but some of those tasks/tricks did help me and I still use them to this day. He also made me realise some things about myself that I just hadn’t realised before. Little things that did annoy me about myself, but I just thought overlooked. Apparently those things, like over thinking, over analysing everything, are common but not normal behaviour. He helped me realise a way to channel my thoughts rather than let them consume me.
I don’t ever brand myself as having or having had a “mental illness” because I guess depression is so common – but really, that is just what it is. And I do think I still live with it daily. It isn’t an “active” illness, it isn’t something that I feel is taking over my life like it has in the past, but I do know that I work hard to keep positive and to keep it at bay. Only recently I’ve learnt that you can say that without admitting defeat, without worrying your loved ones, without thinking you’re failing or that “something is wrong” because that isn’t how this works. You can just feel down, for no reason. And that is okay. You can feel hurt and upset by the smallest of comments and guess what – that’s okay as well.
I think if you are tuned in such a way that you, unfortunately, have such an illness, you’ll always have it – even if that is in the depths of your mind where you never think about it anymore and never think anything could trigger it again. Many people think they’ve overcome it, and maybe they have, but I don’t believe you ever actually get rid of that part of your brain, I feel it is unrepairable damage. I think you’ll live with it and take it with you through your whole life. It isn’t a sign of weakness, it isn’t to say you aren’t normal. Sometimes it is medical, a chemical imbalance. Sometimes it’s past events that will always affect you. Unfortunately, it could quite easily by triggered again if you don’t learn to recognise it, don’t have the support you need and don’t allow yourself to be honest with yourself.
Whilst I do believe I have got over my illness through the support I’ve received, I do know that I live with it daily. I battle with things upsetting me beyond my control and I do still have days where I know I am struggling. Luckily for me, I have a really supportive partner and we have the relationship where I can tell her “Today I am struggling” and she understands and gets me through the day, or few days. I know it makes me difficult to live with, so I admire her for all that she does and puts up with. But that is what a partnership is about. She has days too where she feels like nothing is going right and it is my job to make her smile at that time too.
It sounds like a lame excuse, but it is one of the hardest daily things that I cope with – battling with my mind. One part of my head says “stop being daft, you’re getting into a mood and getting yourself upset and you don’t need too” and the other part of my head says “you’re an idiot, you’ve done it all wrong, you’re useless” etc.
I am confident that I’ll never go back to needing medication (which in fact I would refuse this time around), or needing to see a counsellor – because my home life is so much so that my medication is my family. But I do know that I still have bad days and I still have things that trigger me to feel low. Four years ago, I was at the depths of depression and I know I’ll never get back to that state with the lifestyle I now have – but fighting my mind each day to stop over-thinking, to stop over-analysing, to stop thinking I’ve upset every man and his dog and to stop allowing my thoughts and feelings to consume me is hard. I admit it.
Overall, I am a positive person. I can talk to someone till the cows come home about how they should take a positive from every situation and do you know, I genuinely care about people, their feelings and I like to make sure they never let anyone beat them down. Life is too short for all of that stuff. But giving myself the same advice just doesn’t work. I think the reason I care about people too much is part of my problem and something I am working on.
I think the reason I fail to admit that I have a daily battle is because my life is amazing. I have a beautiful, wonderful family, a decent job and a beautiful home. I don’t have the right to label myself as having such “problems”, when there are far bigger “problems” in the world; when people out there suffer much more. But truth be told until I admit that very fact – I may never be understood and I may always struggle.
Admitting you struggle or saying you feel down doesn’t mean that you aren’t happy with life anymore. It doesn’t mean you’re back in the depths of depression and everything you know will slip away from you. It is perfectly normal and people with such illness need to realise that. It is okay to say “I’m having a down day”. If like me, you have that support you deserve and need at home – then you’ll feel comfortable admitting that and it is a comforting, warm feeling, knowing that you can talk about it without feeling like you’re being judged or upsetting someone. It would be very selfish of anyone to make your problems about them. You feeling down is no reflection on anyone else, sometimes – it just can’t be helped. It “just is”, like the weather.
Talking about it, writing about it – is a therapy for me. I vowed to start blogging more when the new year arrived and this is something I don’t talk about because it’s private and sensitive to me. But I have nothing to hide and I’ve developed in so many ways because of the support I receive a day in, day out from Gemma and my family.