It has been a few months now since I wrote my post Let’s Talk About Depression, so I thought I would revisit it and some of the reflections that I’ve made. Someone once described depression to me like a deep canyon – sometimes people fall down and the further they fall the harder it is to climb back to the top. I’m generally at the top (with the usual ‘normal’ ups and downs that everyone has), but on a few occasions over the years, I have definitely fallen off the precipice.
I have never got to the point where I am unable to get out of bed (although I have been tempted) nor have I ever completely withdrawn. I have always been able to get into work and go about my life, albeit feeling slightly disconnected – a little bit like my brain is wrapped in bubble-wrap. Nevertheless, during these periods of low mood, I am unable to think completely clearly or rationally, particularly this last time when I wrote the depression post; I took things very personally, I was incapable of putting things into perspective and I was very, very tearful.
People that know me well probably knew my mood was low – my husband especially was worried about me – but I’m not sure if you were to meet me you would know how I was truly feeling as I masked it quite well. I remember after I had my daughter I developed sepsis, and a doctor said to me “you are a lot sicker than you seem”. I think this was the same when my mood was low; I was a lot unhappier than most people realised, including myself. It made me wonder how many of us are struggling with our mood but manage to ‘put a face on it’. I imagine that this number is probably quite high (the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests than 1 in 5 people will be clinically depressed at some point in their lives). Certainly, the depression post has had more views and shares than anything else I have written, so I think it struck a chord with people who could relate to what I had written.
As for myself, I knew I wasn’t happy but I think I can only now fully appreciate how bad I was feeling and how irrational I was being, because I don’t feel like that any more. At the time, it felt like things would never change. But it got better. I am much happier at the moment (this is despite averaging 4 hours sleep a night thanks to my newborn!) . If the same things that felt like the end of the world at the time were to happen now, I know I would think and feel totally differently about them, and would cope much better with them. For me, the improvement in my mood was achieved by removing some of the stressors that were triggering my low mood, by talking to people close to me, and by starting to do more things I enjoy to brighten my mood (like knitting and crochet!). With a 7 week old, I’m pretty knackered at the moment (he was awake today from 10am until 3.30pm.) He is now sleeping, and part of me knows that I should rest myself but instead I find myself writing this post. I think this is partly because it is crucial for me to retain part of who I am, and make sure I keep doing the things I enjoy. I have no doubt that there will be occasions in the future when my mood will slip again, but I also know that I’ll come out of it again.
If you are worried about yourself or someone you love, please know that there is help out there. I’ve included some links below for online support/advice (these are all links to organisations that I have either used or am aware of in my job as a Clinical Psychologist) but you can also discuss any of your concerns with your GP, who should hopefully be able to point you in the right direction for further help.
Breathing Space: breathingspace.scot