Today is World Mental Health Day. If you’re sitting at home, work or wherever struggling. If you know someone who is. This post is for you. Because days like this are important and remind us that we can get better when we feel able to put our hands up and ask for help.
Depression can happen to anyone.
I would say that I now know as many people who are struggling or who have struggled with anxiety, depression or some sort of mental health condition, than not. Lots are taking medication alongside counselling and are living happy lives again.
I don’t know if it’s an age thing, the society we inhabit, which is now making it more acceptable to talk about it or just the fact that we expect so much from our lives these days. But it’s happening. And it’s happening to anyone. It’s not just people we might expect it to happen to or people that we can rationalise it’s happened to. It’s also happening to people we perceive to have their s*** together. Those we perceive to be happy, strong and successful, those people that firmly fall into the ‘what do they have to feel low about?’ category.
Yes, even them.
‘I haven’t got anything to feel low about.’
This is perhaps the biggest myth about depression. That you have to have a reason to feel depressed. (I’m only going to talk about depression and anxiety in this post, because that’s the only thing I have personal experience of. I’m not discounting the importance of other mental health conditions like OCD or bi-polar, for example, by not referring to them. I’m just not ‘qualified’ to have an opinion on those.)
Yes. You have to be bereaved, or have lost your job or in a really dire situation of some sort to be depressed. Sadly, that’s simply not true. You can have all the luxuries and benefits in the world and still feel really, really crap. And that doesn’t make you less deserving of help. It doesn’t.
Why would anyone want to struggle through life, continually trying to dig themselves out of the quicksand that just engulfs them a little bit further every time they try? It’s miserable. It’s debilitating. And it doesn’t have to be like that.
Once you get help, you will be ok.
When I had post-natal depression the ONLY thing I wanted to know was that I would be ok. Because, I simply couldn’t believe that I ever would be. Depression knocks that confidence out of you and any faith you had in anything. In yourself.
Having people around me that had had depression or anxiety and recovered was the only thing that got me through. Alongside CBT and medication. So I’m here today to tell you, ‘You will be ok.’ Confide in a friend you trust. Go to the doctors (ask for an empathetic one, preferably with experience in depression/anxiety), get a full blood count (to rule out any other medical reasons) and then discuss a way forward. Your way forward.
You will be ok.
Depression needs to be managed.
It’s been two years since I was diagnosed with PND. I would say it took me a year to recover, to feel totally myself again. But. And here’s the big BUT.
Depression and anxiety need to be managed. Every day. You need to know your triggers and be mindful of them. Despite CBTing the s*** out of life and continuing to take a very small dose of my medication, I still have low days, where I feel overwhelmed. Usually when I am tired, taking on too much, not exercising enough, eating badly, drinking, or coming down with a cold. Some days, I handle myself with grace and purpose. Other days, I feel low and teary and I’m not the best version of myself. I’m not even the best version of my worst self.
But I know what I need to do to stay well. And if I choose not to do that, I know there will be consequences. Even then, with all my ducks in a row, I no longer expect to feel amazing, all of the time. Life just isn’t like that, right?
Making your way back up.
I hope that this post helps someone today. I hope it helps you pick up the phone and make that call.
I know it’s scary, asking for help. I can’t possibly do the scariness justice by writing about it here. But I promise you, I do know. I know that the vulnerability you’re feeling right now is crippling. But I also know that, once you get that help, it will make you stronger. Because depression is a very humbling experience. It still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes, when I think about how bad I felt and how much better I am now. When you are at your lowest, you reach a point where you are essentially stripped bare and forced to face yourself as you’ve never seen yourself before. It’s unpleasant and unnerving but once you start to emerge from the fog, you get to know who you are. Who you want to be. And you know that you can handle anything because you’ve reached rock bottom and made your way back up.
And you will make your way back up.
Sending you love, support and encouragement to get the help you deserve.