My blog is based on my life living with mental health issues. I have written individual blogs on my struggles with BPD, anorexia and anxiety but I have never really spoken much about my experience of depression.
Depression seems to be everywhere at the minute. Celebrities are confessing to their struggles on an almost daily basis. Which is great, yes. It’s raising much needed awareness but with all of this I kind of thought I didn’t need to.
Now, however, I have changed my mind. Everyone is different. No ones experience of depression is the same as anyone else’s. My experience could be completely different to most other peoples but on the other hand it might resonate with someone and encourage them to seek help.
I have listed a few points of what depression is like for me. This is in no way a full extensive list but these are few keys points I think are important to recognise.
Depression – My experience:
- It’s not just sadness – This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions of depression. On quite a few occasions I’ve had people say to me “Oh, are you sad again?” “Just think positive” Not helpful! Depression (for me at least) is not sadness at all. It’s emptiness, numbness and just not feeling anything at all. It’s a truly awful experience. Being completely void of all feeling, floating through life in your own bubble where no one else can get to you. An extremely lonely experience.
- You try to hide it from everyone, including yourself – You work hard every single day to convince yourself that you are fine. You have nothing at all wrong with you. You plaster on that big fake smile and act as happy as you can. You push yourself to the limit everyday keeping up this act of being on top of everything and having no worries at all. Hiding that that inner demon that is constantly trying to bring you down, making you feel lost, empty and alone.
- Everything has to be perfect – Yep everything! If it’s not then you are a failure. Simple as that. You end up re-doing most things, work, homework, housework, absolutely everything. I even rewrite ‘To do’ list so it’s perfectly neat! Doing this is absolutely exhausting but you cant stop. Perfectionism also stretches to having to be the perfect mum, daughter, wife, friend. You don”t want people to worry about you (or even dislike you) so put on this persona of having a perfect life.
- You take things out on loved ones – As I mentioned in previous points you are hiding everything everyday. Thoughts, feelings, emotions. so it’s only natural that this has all got to come out eventually. It’s like a pot boiling, it can only do it for so long before it all pours out – or explodes out in my case.
- Guilt – I have written a post before about guilt and how it can be all consuming and frankly soul destroying. Depression leaves me feeling guilty all the time. Guilty for sitting down when there is housework to be done. Not being well enough to go out and work full time. Guilty for the past. Guilty for not being the best mummy or wife. Even guilty for being ill! It really is awful to live like this everyday but depression really makes you believe you should feel guilty! It just takes over everything.
- It’s physical pain too – depression is an illness of the mind. It is your brain that is poorly, yes, but many people don’t realise how it can effect you physically as well. I remember being told about 6 years ago that I had Fibromyalgia. Unfortunately it was described to me as “I am not really in physical pain it’s all in my head” So needless to say I felt awful and didn’t mention it again. Since then I have lived with back pain, shoulder pain, sore knees and extreme tiredness. All symptoms of Fibromyalgia. You can also suffer stomach upsets, headaches and general aches and pains. All very real to the person who is feeling it.
- You cancel plans – I hate doing this! I hate letting people down I really do. It makes me feel terrible to think I have annoyed or upset someone by cancelling on them but sometimes I have no choice. Sometimes the darkness of depression creeps in and takes over. What’s worse is I usually end up cancelling plans that I really want to go to!
- Sleep problems – It can go either way, too much sleep or not enough of it. With me it has always been not enough. I tend to fall asleep quite early and as soon as my head hits the pillow but then a few hours later I am wide awake and not able to go back to sleep. My mind will just not switch off. It races at a million miles an hour with thoughts of, well, everything! Things I have to remember to do. Things from the past, good or bad. random thoughts, fears or ideas, literally anything. It’s such a struggle to go through life always being exhausted!
- Self harm and suicidal thoughts/behaviours – For me these things have unfortunately played a huge part in battle with depression. Since I was a teenager self harm has been my way of coping and getting a release from all the built up emotion inside of me. Hitting, scratching, biting and cutting are things that I have done time and time again. It was the only thing that helped me in the darkest and loneliest times. Although, I am happy to say that it has been many months since I last self harmed. Suicide attempts are something that I have also dealt with. Truly believing your loved ones would be better off without you and wanting to end the terrible debilitating pain, Suicide seems like the only option. Depression makes you believe that!
Like I said this is just a brief overview of my experiences of depression and I do plan to write about it a lot more and help others who might be struggling or have loved ones that are. Everyone who suffers with depression suffers differently. But that doesn’t make the pain your feeling any less valid.
Lots of love