Tuesday, January 31 2012

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Image of small handmade model looking sadWelcome 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, I’m just going to talk about my own experience a little bit more, and also about how I’m doing now. This is a little hard for me, so please forgive me if my writing becomes a bit disjointed or confusing – it’s the way my thoughts are sometimes!

Finding the beginning, not so easy

The thing is, there wasn’t a specific moment where it all just began. I have a specific moment where I thought I might have depression, and then there’s the moment when my doctor decided to start me on anti-depressants. There’s the moments when I’ve been so low that I just can’t see any light in my life, and there’s the moments where I’ve realized that I really needed help. But, looking back on everything I’ve been through so far, there were moments even before my diagnosis where I was lower than I was ‘supposed’ 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. It’s 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 it’s 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 wasn’t 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 having  panic attacks almost everyday, and I just couldn’t leave the house anymore. Leaving the house meant having to put on a brave face and deal with people, and I just couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 their depression and anxiety with anti-depressants, but it wasn’t the path I wanted to take. I was already on so many pills for my other health problems, and I didn’t want to add to it any more. Even now, when I’m 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 ‘break-down’ (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 ‘depressive episode’. It can be a simple low mood that I can’t 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.

spray painted image of a ninja

By getting help you can become a Ninja of your depression finding the secret weapons that work for you

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 don’t 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, that’s me done. I hope an expression of my experience has given somebody something to relate to. It’s 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, don’t 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 series…

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Comments

2 Responses to “Managing Depression: Pt 6”

  1. Alex says:

    *hugs* I’ve had some form of depression since I was 11, so I know how it is. I saw doctors throughout my teens but they never manned up and gave me medication, even when I was self-harming. The dumbasses referred me to the school counselor who made me play with fucking pipe cleaners and talk about my pipecleaner colour choices and why I wound them the way I did. (Sorry, just talking about this brings up repressed rage over how incompetent my doctors and school counselor were.) Anyway, since that shit obviously didn’t work I just had to suck it up and try to be normal for a while. Admittedly I never cried all that much, but I just wasn’t an incredibly positive or happy person, y’know? But in the first year of uni it got bad enough where I was like I feel *so* flat and like everything is too hard, and all I want to do is sleep all day because I’m constantly exhausted so I went to the doctor and they FINALLY gave me medication and sent me to a legit psychologist. The psychologist helped a lot. I didn’t feel this massive sense of relief after talking to her each week like I thought I would, but life just felt a little bit easier and I can’t talk to my parents or friends about anything like that so it was nice to have a confidante. Admittedly I stopped seeing her because she changed practices and it was hard to get to and I had family issues, but she was a great help at the time. Jsyk medication takes a while to get right , unfortunately. I started on Effexor and it just made me feel incredibly flat and a little bit nauseous. Coming off it was worse though, I got these things that can only be described as brain shocks, it feels like when you have a falling dream and flail and wake up when you hit the ground, only it’s in your brain and you can’t tell if you’ve actually flailed or anything. It’s so weird but kind of funny XD Anyway they took me off Effexor to go on something else and it’s much better. *hugs* if you need to talk about anything you can always message me

  2. Adrian says:

    Well, I may not be 17 anymore, but I do know what it’s like to have srests, depression and anxiety hit you all at once, and I do know how hard it can be. I also do not want any medication.All these things run in my family and sadly enough, most of them have become dependent on the medication. I have promised myself that I would never let that happen to me.Sometimes I break out into these horrible moods one minute, the next I’m crying my eyes out, and the next I just want to be left alone. That is no way for any person to live. You need support from loved ones to help out a little. We all need some help sometimes and the first step at helping depression in wanting to get better. I have chosen away to help myself, but I also ask others around me to be patient with me, it is a long process. I have been dealing with this in my life for years now, but slowly it is getting better.I realize this is a long answer, but I know a lot about this topic, and it saddens me to know that too many people suffer from this illness. In some cases, people need medication due to the chemical imbalance. Some just need learn that they have the power to overcome this. That is what I’m choosing to do, and so far I’m getting there.You are 17 years old and life can get better or much much worse. Always think to yourself, you are much greater then the srests, the pain, and the worries that you deal with everyday. School can be tough on people, but always know you can only do so much to please people. Try pleasing yourself, worry about yourself.Take one day at a time and just know that the horrible day will not last forever, and try not to bring your worries to the next days, that is the past and there is nothing you can do to change that.

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