Depression is a chemical imbalance not a personality flaw. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people, with 1 in 4 people suffering from depression.
It can affect anyone, rom any background, at any time. We can all feel low, fed up and down at times, and this will usually pass within a week or two and doesn’t interfere with our daily tasks or living. Depression makes it hard to function and enjoy life like you once did, some people describe it as a black hole or feeling of complete emptiness, other people have described feeling angry, irritable, agitated or restless. There are many signs and symptoms of depression which I am going to list below. If you’ve had any of these signs or symptoms for 2 weeks or more, please seek help.
- You feel hopeless/helpless
- You’ve lost interest in friends, activities and things you used to enjoy.
- You feel tired all the time.
- Your sleep and appetite has changed.
- You can’t concentrate or find previously easy tasks difficult.
- You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.
- You are much more irritable, short tempered or aggressive than usual.
- You are consuming more alcohol than normal, or engaging in reckless behaviour.
- You are self harming.
- You have thoughts of suicide, or feelings that people would be better off without you around.
Mental illness has such a stigma around it that people feel ashamed, embarrassed or deny that there is something wrong with them. People don’t want the label of having a mental health condition, or to be labelled as “crazy” or judged by others. As I said previously 1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness, with 1 in 4 suffering with depression. It could be your neighbour, coworker, or even a family member who may not have opened up to you.
We need to end the stigma around mental illness and depression, because in most circumstances a person just needs to be reminded that they are still loved and thought of. You would go to the Doctors / Hospital if you broke your arm, so why won’t you go for your mental health? Our brain is the main organ in our body that keeps us breathing, thinking, running and smiling, we need to remind ourselves that if our mental health is suffering, then
our body will too.
The ultimate protection from the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness is to tell no-one, and keep it a secret, however this protection comes at a cost, feeling more alone and vulnerable than ever. In order to combat the stigma, and relieve some tension, you should find a confidant, someone you can truly trust, and will listen. This may be a health professional, close friend, family member, or even writing anonymously on forums/discussion boards.
There are so many benefits to opening up to your confidant; you no longer have to worry about keeping the secret, you can be more open in your day to day life, those you choose to tell may express support, and value your honesty in confiding in them, those you share your story with may share similar stories o confirming you aren’t alone in your circumstances or experiences, your disclosure may help others in need, and of course it can help to diminish negative connotations and stereotypes of mental illness.
I myself suffer from depression, and looking back as far as February this year these signs and symptoms started to appear. Unfortunately I didn’t truly pay attention to myself, any time I had a really bad or low day, I put this down to external circumstances and moved on. It wasn’t until August that I truly started to realise my behaviour and mood was drastically changing, and my partner and I had an open discussion about things and he suggested it was time to visit the doctor to ask for help.
I visited the Doctor, and my partner and I explained how I was changing, my mood was erratic and I felt hopeless and exhausted, but then I would change to being extremely irritable, angry and crying daily. During this talk I got emotional and said I hated feeling like this and treating my boyfriend this way. She was extremely patient and comforting. I was given a questionnaire to fill out, and told to fill it out thinking of my worst days, she asked me to bring back the form and she would look at my results and we would discuss options and where to go from there.
I returned and the Doctor said that my results ranked very highly on the depression scale. We discussed options; I could choose to take anti depressants, speak to a counsellor, or do both. I opted for the anti – depressants, as I had never been on them before, whereas I had spoken with a counsellor in the past.
Every medication has side effects and that includes anti depressants, and I was told this before I had decided to opt for medication. The Doctor explained that it would take around 2/3 weeks to see any affects of the anti depressants, and I was to go back for a review in 3 weeks to discuss the treatment, I was also informed if I suffered any side effects I should contact the Doctors ?Surgery immediately.
The first few days were pretty crappy; I had dizziness, nausea and was extremely tired… I read the side effects and surprise surprise those were there, what was amusing was the side effects were also; feeling wide awake, overly tired, restlessness, irritability, increased appetite, loss of appetite, weight gain, weight loss, suicidal thoughts… As you can see they were contradictory effects, and essentially covered symptoms of depression its-self. Obviously depression isn’t funny but my partner and I have a warped sense of humour and thought it silly and amusing. I did suffer from several side effects but chose not to go to the Doctor, as the side effects were so extensive, I decided to just wait it out and see.
I’ve now been on my anti depressants for 3 months now, and can genuinely see and tell the difference, my sleeping pattern is far more regular, i’m nowhere near as exhausted, and I can concentrate and pay attention to things like I used to, and I am back in contact with friends socialising a lot more! As I mentioned the first few weeks were tough, but I don’t have any of the side effects now, and I’m beginning to really feel like my old self again 🙂
I know medication isn’t for everyone, but I just wanted to share my story and say, if you’re feeling hose persistent symptoms/signs above, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you can trust. I’m thankful my partner and I are so open with one another, he noticed my changes from the beginning but he had to let me make that final decision on getting professional help.
It’s OK to ask for help and admit that you’re changing and not happy with it. Please never battle alone, or think that no-one cares, because that’s never true.
I’m more than happy to talk to anyone privately about their worries, or any questions you may have. I am also going to link some really helpful links below for people/organisations to contact if you so need to.
I’m also going to write a more in depth insight of my depression to give you a fuller insight, but i’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading, and I hope this information was useful to you.
Take care and best wishes!
Much love, Sassy x