Here are some of the questions I have received this week and my responses to them
Why do people with depression push others away?
Of course I tell other sufferers that its not at all healthy to isolate yourself like this, and if you can to surround yourself with love ones, but the truth is when I’m having one of those days and I find myself engulfed in misery, it’s extremely hard to follow my own advice
What caused your depression?
Such a simple sounding question but an almost impossible one to answer. You could say that many accumulative factors lead to my depression or you could say that it’s an Illness that picked me completely at random and no past influences or traumatic events had anything to do with it. The truth is I still don’t know and that’s what makes it so difficult to live with. I had a terrible time at high school dealing with being bullied on a daily basis. I became extremely introverted and learnt to repress my feelings as a coping mechanism. This continued into adulthood when I continued to have no confidence and extremely low self-esteem. I kept being transported back to that little boy cowering in the corner of the school play ground, as I always took on the persona of a victim (I still often do)
Several years since, whilst working in a mental health setting I was attacked and after this incident I have suffered with panic attacks. I still find myself stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression, where one always effects the other. Due to my depression It’s easy for me to become isolated for long periods of time. Once I do have to go somewhere or converse with someone I now become even more anxious. The anxiety may now get the better of me, forcing me to cancel my plans, which makes me feel inadequate and even more depressed! So in answer to your question medically speaking nothing in-particular can cause depression, however anxiety and repressed feelings can be a big contributing factor. That’s why asking for help and talking therapy are so important to help you manage your illness
How did you discover you were depressed?
It kind of crept up on me to be honest. I’ve been depressed along time before I was diagnosed with it and put on the anti depressants. Its just I was very confused about the way I was feeling, I Didn’t know what was wrong with me and didn’t want to accept the possibility that I might have a mental health illness. It was a very frightening time in my life. I found I was sleeping much more than usual, getting up later and going to bed earlier, anything to avoid having to face the day. Even talking to my family became a huge effort. I found myself having dark thoughts and bouts of unbearable sadness for no apparent reason. It could hit me at the strangest times, such as washing up the pots. There was no logical explanation for this and I hated not feeling in control. I also felt hugely ashamed by how I was feeling. What right did I have to be depressed when there were others so much worse off than me? I tried to hide all this from my family but obviously didn’t do the best job. Eventually they encouraged me to go and talk to my doctor and he got me the help I needed.
Are there any benefits from suffering anxiety and depression?
This question was from a 19 year old young man who also shared this information with me
As any sufferer of Anxiety and Depression would tell you: support is critical to conquering this illness. I don’t have that support. I’ve had to rely on myself to improve myself and find a way out of this mess and towards a brighter future. I’ve recently got a job and have tried to put myself out there and meet new people, but my anxiety is starting to get a hold of me, and I wish I had someone to talk to about things on a daily basis, I see a psychologist, but I find it hard to open myself up to him, mainly because I don’t feel that connection. I know I’ve kinda rambled on but I’m really struggling to fight this alone. My family don’t understand how hard it is for me. I know I’ve made so much progress and done so many positive things since being diagnosed, but I’m still struggling fighting this alone. Any answers would be greatly appreciated.
My answer –
If you don’t feel your able to open up to your psychologist you can request to see another one, Its so important to have someone you feel comfortable with. I ended up seeing a counsellor instead, Less qualified than a psychologist but someone I immediately connected with. Even then it took me nearly six months before I opened up to her. Once I did manage to do this I immediately felt a huge sense of relief. It suddenly became easier to open up to my family, something I’d never been able to manage before. Family don’t always get how hard life can be living with a mental health illness, unless they have experienced it themselves, but the only way there ever going to learn is by talking to them. I know this is easier said than done but they might just surprise you.
You need to remember that your not alone with this. There’s so many people just like us out there. They say that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health illness, I think the reality is its even higher than that, which makes us part of the biggest club in the world! the trouble is the majority of us suffer in silence. At least you have come forward to seek help, it takes a brave person to do that, so I commend you. There’s so many amazing support groups out there, Either on line or in local groups, here you will find people who can relate to the way your feeling and offer you advice on how to manage your illness. you just need to be honest with your doctor and he will get you the extra help you need. I feel like I’m rambling myself now so going back to your original question-
Since suffering with my mental health I have become much less judgmental of other people and much more empathetic when somebody is struggling. Its also helped me to discover much more about myself and that being a sensitive person is not a weakness. My whole perception of life has changed, I take less for granted and discovering mindfulness has learnt me to live in the present and appreciate much more of the simple pleasures in life. In short I think I prefer this version of myself than the one in the past, even though I now suffer from anxiety and depression