When the subject of depression and on this occasion suicide is discussed in the media, I find myself having very mixed emotions. Firstly I am sad for the individual and their families, looking back over your life and how they have touched your lives even though you did not know them personally. I have also found due to my own problems with depression it brings back memories of when I was at my lowest. On a bit more of a positive note I find myself being relieved that for a short period of time as individuals will feel more able to talk about their experiences. I also feel it helps to raise awareness of what a debilitating illness depression can be and how sometimes people find that there is just no way out.
I find the memories that it brings back the hardest aspect to deal with, as I have learnt to cope with my depression but I know it is there and always will be. My mental health will always be fragile and I know that I will always have to work at keeping my mood stable, not allowing it to drop below a 'manageable' level which can be tiring and is when anyone with depression can be at their most vulnerable.
At my darkest hour I had suicidal thoughts, it is difficult to put down in words what this was like for me and unless you have been this low I don't think anyone can understand what it is like. Your ability to reason goes out the window and I can imagine those individuals who do take their own lives in the end have lost the final bit of reasoning that I was fortunate to have. This is only my opinion and my way of making sense of the process I went through because something stopped me from taking that final step, be it my ability to reason with myself or be it something else it is difficult to understand. When I was at this point in my life I could not see how anything could improve, the pain I was feeling and the pain that in my opinion people around me were going through because of how things were was enough for me to think it was time to end the suffering I was causing. One statement that gets thrown around is that those that do it were being selfish, I don't see it like this. People who get to this point are not thinking straight, thoughts are skewed and I felt I was being selfless as those around me were suffering because of how I was and I wanted to end it for them.
When depression is part of a persons life it can be difficult on everyone not just the person that is suffering directly. I am thankful for the support I received from those closest to me at the time. I have always found it difficult to accept help of the physical or emotional kind and so the support I was given was not always taken with open arms. I learnt to hide how I was feeling and did not feel able to talk to my husband or anyone else close to me for the concern that I would upset them and would be a burden. As a result of this it took a lot to swallow my pride and ask for help, after a lot of support already given by those closest to me.
Depression is something that I was unable to hide from everyone but I still feel unable to talk to many of my family about it as I feel there lack of understanding and misguided opinions on this matter would make it worse. Depression is still something many people will not talk about and have misconstrued ideas about what depression is and how it can be managed. At the beginning of this post I spoke about feeling relieved because it meant that people would feel more able to talk about this issue a bit more openly for a short period of time. Over the past few days I have noticed an increase in people feeling more able to talk about this issue. I continue to not feel able to talk to my family directly about the issues I face but perhaps maybe there are people out there whom feel more able now than they once did, preventing them from reaching the point that people like Robin Williams and many others before him have done.
As mentioned above, my illness is more stable now and I feel more able to cope. Cope is the main point here, I have learnt coping strategies to deal with my depression and know if I don't do something that helps with this then I am opening myself up to experiencing lows like I have done before.
Being able to look back on my own experiences has meant that I have learnt how to help others who may be struggling through life. Helping others can actually be more difficult at times because you feel helpless to know what to do. At this point I try to remind myself what they did for me and it can be as simple as just being in their lives as much as possible to show that they are not alone. If you know or suspect someone of having depression quite simply show that you are there, don't push them to talk or tell them to snap out of it. It can be as simple as sending a text showing you care.
The support of those closest to me definitely helped me to feel less alone and more able to fight the illness. If you are the one going through it yourself, try and find someone to confide in, if you don't feel like this is possible there are other places to find support including the Samaritans and the charity Mind. When I was at my lowest one thing that helped was using a set of books by Matthew Johnstone titled ' I had a black dog' . http://matthewjohnstone.com.au/courses/i-had-a-black-dog/. These books were suggested by a friend and there are a number of them in the series looking at different parts of living with depression. I found they helped illustrate how I was feeling and they will still be used at times now to help explain what I am going through.
Depression is an evil illness which is more difficult to explain than a broken bone, it can not be seen but it doesn't make it any less real. There is evidence that it is a chemical imbalance in the brain and so has medical background rather than 'just being an emotion'. Some people will be more likely to suffer than others but the first step to ending the stigma is for everyone to learn more about the debilitating illness so that if you know someone that is suffering they can receive the help that they need rather than feeling that their only option is to suffer in silence. We need to keep talking about this issue to help those that feel they can't talk about it and to stop that feeling of being alone that so many people who suffer from depression will feel in their lives.
I hope this post is the start of people feeling able to talk about this subject more freely and so helping others to not suffer as I did in silence for so long.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin