It is nearing the end of Depression Awareness Week, but it will not be nearing the end of many journeys alongside depression. There are still those of you who are afraid of the dark, and I want to give you the opportunity to step into the light and to share your story with other strong-minded people. We have come to the places of accepting what we trifle with everyday and so have found ways to quieten our minds of these bad thoughts and feelings, but this did not just happen overnight – to get out of our dark places has taken a lot of courage and strength. Speaking from personal experience, it is not easy to admit there may be something “wrong” with you, but since I realised those years ago that I could not fight this big enemy alone, I sought after help and guidance from professionals, family and friends.
I asked a few people who I know have suffered from depression, or have known others who have suffered, to share a Strong Selfie with me and have given me permission to upload them onto here. This shows that there is strength in numbers and that there are many people speaking out who understand what it is like to live with depression – one including the inspirational author of Black Rainbow and Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness, Rachel Kelly.
I thought I’d share this post, because it is all about being strong and sharing peoples’ strengths during these bad days in our lives. I have previously shared my story, on SANE’s website, but here is mine:
‘My name is Antalia Terblanche. I am a blonde 21 year old vegan who loves animals and everything fluffy and cute. I am also a sufferer of depression. I am on medication for it and have been for the past few years.
My depression started whilst I was in sixth form – my grades dropped, I skipped lessons, I spent some of my lunchtimes hiding away in the school toilets – and I was scared of going in. I had dreams of myself committing suicide in different ways, so I was afraid to fall asleep…one of the scenarios was at school and this haunted me. I took sleeping tablets but they made me hallucinate and I tried all the remedies, but I just could not close my eyes. I went out a lot and drank a bit too much at times – as teenagers do – however I guess I was trying to find the feeling of being happy that I did not get whilst I was sober. I drank for the wrong reasons. I hung out with the wrong people who I thought were my friends…however they did not help me. I have my close friends with me now, but I lost a lot of friendships at this time; I guess they did not understand, and I have learnt to forgive them over the years. My bulimia started a little before I was 16. I hid this from my friends and family up until my depression became worse and everything was exposed. I felt like everything had fallen apart when my mum received a phone call from my school saying I was absent and she had to go in for a meeting. I remember being in bed at this time and my heart dropped…I thought I was so good at covering up and pretending I was okay when it was clear I was not.
As much as I disliked my time in sixth form, I commend the teachers; they noticed my change in behaviour and introduced me to CAMHS (a children and adolescent mental health service) and they helped me a lot. When I started I was scared…I did not want to admit there was anything wrong with me, and I clammed up in my sessions and said, “I was fine”. They knew I wasn’t and so did I. Here, they prescribed me tablets with which I felt okay, but they were not the ones for me. I am on my third type of anti-depressants now, and even though I am on a high dosage, I feel they work; I feel they help me find happiness a little easier to feel. Of course, tablets aren’t always the answer; it is also your mind-set. Your behaviour reflects how you are feeling, and if you do not feel good, chances are your behaviour will be a little off colour too.
I do not feel numb anymore; I feel like a human being again, with feelings and with dreams. It has taken me a while to get out of the dark pit I felt myself falling into, but with the support of my friends and family and professional help, I feel I am getting my life back on track.’
A few of these ladies have shared their experiences also:
Jenny Mullinder – blog found here
‘I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was a teenager. I got bullied all through high school and had low self esteem, and was depressed but didn’t really realise it. My mum had Parkinson’s Disease and I had to do a lot at home helping to take care of her and sort things out that an adult normally would, so I was just on autopilot to keep going. When I went away to uni I thought it would be better but I was just trying to run away from my problems, which obviously didn’t work. After she died in 2012 I finally had to confront everything. I became very anxious and closed off for a while, I was terrified of dying and felt so alone but didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about stuff. Eventually I started to open up a bit, and writing my blog around mental wellbeing has helped a lot. I still have bad moments and bad days now, but I know more about my own needs and limits, and how to help myself. I am strong because I have been through so much and I’m a better person now than I was before. I’m fighting to raise awareness that everyone needs to look after their mental health.’
‘I suffer with generalised anxiety, I have my good days and bad days and thanks to all the positivity I surround myself with, the bad days are very few and far between. It’s tough but I KNOW I’m not alone and my life is so much more than being paranoid and upset every once in a while, it’s a beautiful gift and these struggles will sculpt me into such a kind and understand person, mother, wife and friend!’
‘I’d always been a worrier and overthinker my whole life, but then I hit 20 and had my ‘trigger’. I was having multiple panic attacks a day, and every time I felt like I was dying. I could barely walk down the road without my chest hurting, heart thundering, being unable to catch my breath or feeling as if I were about to faint. I didn’t have a clue what was going on, and it was terrifying. Then after a fair few tests at the doctors, I was diagnosed with ‘GAD’- Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. It took years to get to the stage I’m at now; and after three different types therapy and a LOT of positive thinking, I feel like I’m so close to the person I was before. I still can’t get on a train comfortably, and I still need to take calming medication before I get on a plane. But day-to-day, I’m usually all right, and I’m so much better and stronger than I was. The key is to keep going and push though it. Don’t be too proud to seek help for mental health. Try therapies, and keep trying different ones till you find one that works for you. There’s no quick fix, but you will get better.’
Depression is not a friend, even though sometimes it is easy to fall into its arms. We must push it away and embrace the help and positivity that is out there to help us get through our dark journeys – not alone, but together.
Join me in breaking the stigma and help raise awareness of depression and take a Strong Selfie too! Share your story, share your thoughts and experiences and share the passion, that we have, to end the silence. Thank you, and peace.