Welcome the final in our series about Managing Depression written by 21 year old Bethwyn. Bethwyn has taken us from signs and symptoms, to treatment and how to help a friend who may be suffering from depression. We want to say a big thank to Bethwyn for sharing her story as one of our Youth Content Producers and giving hope to many and letting us know that we are not alone that depression can be managed and treated. Enjoy this final blog in the series.
Hi everyone. This will be the final installment on my blog series about depression. I hope that what I have written here has helped some people with their concerns and problems – whether it be for a friend, family member, for yourself, or even just to learn more. I love writing and this is such a wonderful way to get my writing out there – by talking about my own experiences and offering some small place of information for those dealing with something I have gone through.
In this post, Iām just going to talk about my own experience a little bit more, and also about how Iām doing now. This is a little hard for me, so please forgive me if my writing becomes a bit disjointed or confusing – itās the way my thoughts are sometimes!
Finding the beginning, not so easy
The thing is, there wasnāt a specific moment where it all just began. I have a specific moment where I thought I might have depression, and then thereās the moment when my doctor decided to start me on anti-depressants. Thereās the moments when Iāve been so low that I just canāt see any light in my life, and thereās the moments where Iāve realized that I really needed help. But, looking back on everything Iāve been through so far, there were moments even before my diagnosis where I was lower than I was āsupposedā to be – where a normal sad mood became something much darker and harder to deal with. If I had to give you a specific age, I would say that it started around the time when I was about 14 or 15 years old. Itās hard to say though – at that age, a lot of people go through times of feeling just outright horrible. I merely want to state my experience, and so I guess itās best to start at the beginning.
When I was first diagnosed, I was going through quite a tough period of my life. My health was pretty bad at the time – I had been diagnosed with about four different illnesses or syndromes (including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and I was trying to struggle through my second semester of Uni. Things were pretty bleak at the time for me – I wasnāt getting much enjoyment out of anything at all. I felt devoid of emotion a lot of the time, and then, when I did experience emotion, it was just an overwhelming wave of anxiety and guilt. I reached the point where I was havingĀ panic attacks almost everyday, and I just couldnāt leave the house anymore. Leaving the house meant having to put on a brave face and deal with people, and I just couldnāt do that. I was aware that what was happening to me was fairly pitiful, and that just made me feel so guilty. I would spend days just pacing the back room of my house, trying to talk myself into going outside, getting on a bus, and going to my classes. I would usually end up feeling so guilty that I just sat on the floor crying and rocking backwards and forwards to try and comfort myself, or, alternatively, having another panic attack and trying to teach myself how to breathe normally.
Yes, I needed help. And anti-depressants. were the first step. Then, once I could leave the house again, going to see a counsellor at Uni helped, too. My counsellor helped me to withdraw from one of my units, gave me breathing exercises to help with my anxiety, gave me things to try and stave off the sadness, guilt, and blackness. One of the things she got me to do was to get a journal and write down every negative thought I had about myself as they happened, and note what they were related to. I did this for two weeks. When I went back to see her at the end of this two weeks, she asked me to read them out loud to her. I couldnāt believe the things I was saying to myself every single day. Over time, I managed to change the way I reacted to problems and issues in my life – I was able to meet challenges head-on and deal with them, without the nasty inner dialogue.
At one point my anti-depressant dose was raised, but, eventually, I made the decision to come off of them. I have the utmost respect for people who choose to treat theirĀ depression and anxiety with anti-depressants, but it wasnāt the path I wanted to take. I was already on so many pills for my other health problems, and I didnāt want to add to it any more. Even now, when Iām not taking nearly as many medications, I still try to treat my depression by myself, with the strength that I have gained from getting through my ābreak-downā (as I named it). Check our part 4 of this series for some of the self help methods I have found work for me.
Looking to a positive future
These days, I do still deal with depression. I have many happy days, but, occasionally, I will have a day or two (or more) where I have a ādepressive episodeā. It can be a simple low mood that I canāt seem to get out of, or it can be a violent and sudden return to the days where I sat on the floor of my bathroom, contemplating hurting myself. I am aware that it is more damaging than helpful and there are many other options that can help you at that moment in time and longer. Check out the self harm page here on TINO for some great suggestions for alternatives that can still help you to feel better and move you towards getting the help you need.
There is not much more that I can say about my experiences. I have found that it always helps to have some secret weapons up your sleeve to help you get out of a bad mood before it becomes something dangerous – some of mine include: talking to understanding friends, having cuddles with loved ones (physical touch with a loved one is proven to lower anxiety, I believe), drinking tea (I adore tea..), and reading. Exercise is always great, but with the heat where I live right now, I donāt see that happening currently! Going out can also help you to get out of your own head – spending time in nature can reconnect you, breathing fresh air calms you down. Just do whatever you need to so that you can feel capable of DEALING. Life can be amazing.
Well, thatās me done. I hope an expression of my experience has given somebody something to relate to. Itās difficult to write these things, as sometimes it just feels so far removed from who I am. But I know it is a part of me, and I own up to that fact. So, here is my story. And, if you think you need help with your own, donāt hesitate to contact someone. It can be scary, but so amazing.
Happy mental health everyone. J
Find some more info
As well as having a good check around h our depression topic page here on Tune In Not Out, here a few other great sites to check out:
Check out the rest of this blog seriesā¦
- Part 1: Managing my Depression
- Part 2 : Signs and symptoms
- Part 3 : Reaching out for help
- Part 4: Treatments
- Part 5: Helping someone living with depression
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