Sorry for being very quiet.
Nothing has been wrong; I’ve just been slacking a bit. Whoops! But I am back with a vengeance to tell you all about a subject that, whilst very personal, is something I am 100% open and honest with. I’m not ashamed of it and I can’t believe there’s still such a stigma attached to it. Depression is not weakness. Just starting out with that little nugget of wisdom; and anyone who disagrees with it can kindly grab their coat, open the door and kick themselves out of it. Have they gone? Ah good. We can continue.
Rewind allllll the way back to autumn 2010. It wasn’t a great year to be totally honest. Shit happens and all that. I was in my second and last year of sixth form. We were thinking about universities, jobs, exams, driving lessons, becoming adults; it was really bloody daunting. You had all of this stuff thrown straight at you all at once. Yes I know that it’s something everyone has had to do and plenty have coped fine. But me? My brain said a big fat nope. The prospect of university terrified me as I had horrible social anxiety, plus I knew it would require a loan and I didn’t want to be lumbered with debt before I’d even started. The idea of working was just as stressful as I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what sort of job I’d like. Driving lessons had started in the June of 2010, as soon as I was 17, and I initially loved it. But then the stress crept in. I would give myself migraines and nausea from fretting so much. I couldn’t even pinpoint why. The more I drove, the more nervous I got. Strange.
Anyway! The autumn of 2010 saw all of these stressors being thrust upon me. I first noticed something was amiss when my concentration and memory began to slide. I’d always been a proper nerd; able to learn and retain information almost straight away. I could answer questions easily and would get solid A grades in most subjects. In my second year of sixth form, I was taking: Law, Psychology and Religious Studies; all of which I’d enjoyed thoroughly since starting the year before. But then it changed. I couldn’t hold focus. I’d zoned out pretty much constantly. I was sure the teachers were speaking gibberish as I didn’t understand a word they were saying. They’d call on me to answer a question, I’d have to say I didn’t know. It was scary. Really really scary. I’d leave lessons not remembering anything that had been said or done in the class.
Shortly after this, the trademark low moods showed their unwelcome faces. And no, it’s not just feeling a bit sad. It’s an all consuming burden that weighs you down. It’s feeling hopeless, worthless and detached from the world. It’s the feelings of guilt as you think you’ve not really got anything to be depressed about. It’s the mood swings, the irritability and the yearning to be alone. It’s losing the motivation to do anything; even things that used to give you great pleasure like a most treasured hobby. You just…fade. That’s probably the most concise was to describe it. You feel yourself, your personality and the life you’ve built fading away.
I knew I had to get some sort of help. It was affecting every aspect of my life. I know it’s easier said than done for some, but seeking help and reaching out is something you have to do. People are out there to help you the best they can. I saw my GP initially who gave me some self-help stuff to try first, to see if any improvement was made. When this didn’t happen, I was prescribed a very low dose of Fluoxetine; so low in fact that they only did it in liquid form. It tasted pretty strong and weirdly minty. After about 4-6 weeks, noticeable improvements were made. My moods began to balance out and I felt much more stable. But you know what didn’t improve? My concentration and memory. To this day I still struggle with them both. It’s a symptom of the chronic illnesses I have too, so I’ve probably got a double whammy of brain fog. I’d been hoping my grades would start to progress to where they’d been before. I really wanted to be able to contribute to my lessons again. But I just couldn’t do it. At some point, my dosage was increased; which would happen a couple more times over the years. And now I take Sertraline. Yep. I still take antidepressants now. And frankly, I don’t give a fuck who knows it. There is nothing to be ashamed of with regards to mental health. If you need medication, you need medication. It should be treated in the exact same way as physical conditions. You don’t tell someone with a broken leg to just get over it or to get a grip. Nobody has the right to dismiss your problems because they can’t see them.
Right. I’m going to grab some depression information now as I’m getting far too passionate and riled up over here. The following info has come from the NHS UK website, with slight edits to make it easier to absorb.
The psychological symptoms of depression include:
- low mood
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilty
- feeling irritable
- having no motivation
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious or worried
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself
The physical symptoms of depression include:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- changes in appetite or weight
- random aches and pains
- lowered sex drive
- changes to your menstrual cycle
- insomnia or sleeping too much
If you’ve experienced symptoms for most of the day, everyday, for 2+ weeks, see your GP as soon as you can. And if you need any advice or just want to chat, you can always drop me a message.
I hope, in a strange way, that you’ve found this post to be enlightening and helpful. I have no qualms about sharing my story with others, especially as I know it can really have a positive impact on people’s lives AND it can help educate those who are still extremely ignorant and/or judgemental.
Take it easy + look after yourselves.