Happy World Mental Health Day
If you search Google image 'Depression' the above picture comes up and I think when people think of depression they think of this kind of image, someone with their head in the hands like they have a headache or something.
Or the above appears when you search 'Anxiety' which is a lady that looks as though she is playing peekaboo.
This is me at the height of my worse depression I have suffered in my life. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for over a decade now and most who do become masters of disguise. The first time I went to a doctor about my depression was when I was 16. I told the doctor all my symptoms but she told me I couldn't have depression because I was wearing make up and in the chat I had mentioned I was seeing my boyfriend the week after, and someone with depression wouldn't want to go see a boyfriend. Typically its believed that making less effort with your appearance is a symptom of depression but I usually make double the effort because I'm so afraid anyone will notice I'm not ok.
Despite 1 in 5 people suffering with a mental illness at some point in their life it seems there is still such a stigma behind mental health even now as I'm posting this I'm feeling anxious because I don't want anyone who reads this to think any different of me because unfortunately when I have opened up to friends or even family in the past, because they don't understand it they think that I'm 'mental' or I'm going to top myself if you tell me to do the washing up. People who suffer from mental health disorders are not mental, they just have chemical imbalances in their brain they cannot control.
I've spent the last 8 months really trying to overcome my illness with medication and also thankfully I have found several people in my life who similarly suffer with either anxiety or depression and I can talk openly and frank about what I'm going through. And I also have amazing friends who don't suffer but are completely open to listening and trying to understand. It sounds cliche but talking about it really does help whether its a therapist or just a really trusted friend. I had no idea how much it would help until I did and how understanding and compassionate most humans are.
If you don't suffer from it but you know someone who does try to educate yourself about it and encourage them to seek help. Although the first doctor I spoke to was extremely unhelpful and unfortunately the one after was just as bad, the last doctor I visited thankfully was so understanding. When I went in I explained how I was feeling and he instantly suggested I start taking Citalopram which is an antidepressant. I had attempted to take it previously but always stopped after a couple of weeks because I was embarrassed to be on antidepressants. I explained this to my doctor and he said 'If you were a diabetic, you would take insulin, so why as someone with depression and anxiety would you be embarrassed to take medication for it". Depression and anxiety aren't emotions, they aren't when your feeling a bit sad or a bit nervous. They are diseases of the brain and no one should be embarrassed to suffer with any mental health illness and should never feel ashamed for trying to overcome it.
Although it looks like I'm off my tits at a rave, this is actually me on my first day of taking Citalopram one of the many side effects is dilated pupils as well as; yawning, tiredness, short term memory loss, increased appetite, weight gain, nausea and at first you can get increased anxiety and suicidal thoughts. There is no quick fix but medication can really help and I would not be here today if I hadn't began taking antidepressants.
I tried for years before that to exercise more, just get over it, think happier, take St Johns Wart and I even became a vegetarian once because I read somewhere on the internet that eating meat is linked to depression. Obviously none of these cured me or helped even slightly. I still felt the same.
I was mostly inspired to seek proper help after so many years of just trying to think positively because over a year and a half ago I lost someone who was very important in my life to depression after they made the choice to take their own life. I have been in that dark place where I've thought about suicide as hard as that is to admit but now because of my loss I would never leave my friends or family with the void I feel from losing her. I know sometimes it feels like you'd be easing your pain or that your friends or family would be better off without you. I promise you this isn't the case. You are loved more than you know and you will be missed more than you can possibly imagine.
I'm now coming off Citalopram now both my doctor and I thankfully feel like I'm in a much better place and have been for the last few months after I've taken several months to love myself again and remember how strong I am and that sometimes things are just out of my control.
I've wrote this really in the hope that even one person will read this and realise their not alone or inspire them to seek help and its ok to suffer with mental health illnesses. And I want to erase the stigma to talk about mental health so why not start with me.
If you feel like you need to seek help please book an appointment with your GP or speak to Mind.
Or call Samaritans on 116 123
If you would like to donate to the mental health foundation please click here.
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