Earlier this year I thought that I had a life debilitating physical illness, I thought I was rubbish at my job and would soon be fired, I thought that my boyfriend of nearly 5yrs didn’t love me anymore and was looking for a way to leave me.
I finally went to the Doctor just after Christmas and after ruling out all of the illnesses I was adamant I had I was diagnosed with depression. My gut reaction was to wish that I had one of the many illnesses I had googled – I was almost disappointed that it wasn’t physical. The first words out of my mouth were “But what do I have to be depressed about?”…
But once I had had time to process that diagnosis I decided to treat it like it was a physical illness. I picked up the medication I needed (even though I didn’t want to be on tablets) and hit the internet just as I had done whenever I got a running injury in the past. It became clear to me that I needed to make time for myself, I needed to be kind to myself and I needed to stand up for my health.
It has been 10 months since I was diagnosed and it wasn’t until I started to feel better that I realised how long I had felt so bad – although at the time I thought it had all hit in the winter of 2015 looking back I think I have struggled on and off for most of my life and severely over the past two years. I also hadn’t considered the impact it had had on those closest to me – there is a moment which stands out for me as a real demonstration of the impact depression can have on everyone it touches…
About a month after I had started to get help my boyfriend and I were going to meet some friends in town but were running late. We realised the train was in the platform and ran across the station to catch it. What, just a month before would have seen me either in tears or angry at all the reasons we were late or threatening to not go anymore ,instead had me laughing and running as fast as I could holding onto my boyfriend’s hand. We got on the train and I was crying with laughter… and he was looking at me with a strange look on his face. When I asked him what was up he told me it was the first time in a long time he had heard me genuinely laugh.
I’m still learning how to deal with my depression – I still have some pretty bleak days but now I know that they aren’t going to last forever. My boyfriend and I are able to talk about it and he knows that if I tell him I’m not doing so great that I probably just need some space to work through it. I’m starting to learn what makes me feel better – forcing myself to get outside for a run and fitting yoga into my weekly routine. I have started to know the signs that I am taking too much on and have focused on finishing work on time to ensure I can do the things that I know I need to do for my health.
I think I underestimated the impact mental illness can have on someone, on your sense of worth and on all of the people closest to you. I didn’t realise how self-destructive it had made me and how I was forcing my worst nightmares into reality to justify my feelings.
I haven’t been that open in the public space about my mental health issues but I have been amazed by the bravery of so many others using social media to open up the dialogue. I know this is not the most profound bit of writing about mental health out there but today, on World Mental Health Day, it was something that I felt I needed to write.