Depression: "I am a stronger person... because I talked about it"

Photo of Matt, a Time to Change bloggerDepression. More than just a word. A very real, debilitating condition. I was diagnosed with it when I had just turned 16 and in truth knew very little about it. But it was through talking to people about how I was feeling that I came to be in the doctor's surgery being told that I had depression and referred to a counselling service.

I will enter that very same doctor's surgery in a few weeks time to hopefully be told I no longer suffer from depression.

Talking about mental health is seen as something to be afraid of. People are afraid of the reactions they might get. I was in the fortunate position to have good people around me and a support network that I built up by talking out about my own mental health.

It was when I began college that I suffered my most severe bouts of depression and it was then that I began to explore what it was and how I could bring myself out of this deep dark black hole, a journey which seemed to be an endless spiral into the depths of despair.

I stayed behind to discuss the problems that I had been having

Soon I concluded that for me to get better, my friends and teachers needed to know what I was going through. Fortunately I was on good terms with my form tutor who appeared sensitive and understanding. Indeed, this proved to be the case when one day I stayed behind to discuss the problems that I had been having.

My tutor was happy to listen to me and not only that but encouraged me to seek support by actively inquiring as to what support was available throughout the college. It transpired that the only time I could get counselling was during tutor periods and, having discussed it with my tutor, I was able to take up this opportunity.

 felt the anxiety that had crippled me thus far at college

The first time I went to the room where counselling was, I walked past a handful of people waiting nearby, sitting on the floor. As I walked past them, I felt the anxiety that had crippled me thus far at college, as if they somehow knew what I was going in for, and were looking disapprovingly at me. Of course they weren't, how could they possibly have known? They couldn't have.

The trouble is that's sometimes how people feel as a result of the stigma that manifests itself within of our society today. However, those who mock us, who see mental health issues and mental illness as a weakness, are so very wrong. I am a stronger person for my depression because I talked about it to people, I managed to find the causes and the triggers and in turn managed to utilise the support I received to educate myself whilst improving my mood.

My experience of stigma has been both direct and indirect

My experience of stigma has been both direct and indirect: with friends whom I have got to know through support groups but also in the form of people using words such as "schizo" or phrases like "I'm so sad I'm going to cut my wrists" as a sarcastic response to something that has been said to them.

This is stigma as much as people telling us to "get over it". However, I was told that I was a "hater of life in general" by someone who was supposed to be my friend and knew about my depression. Despite this affecting me at the time and making me feel like I was attention seeking or that I should keep my problems to myself, I persevered because I knew in my heart that the only way I was going to get better was by talking about it.

Today, one of my favourite pieces of writing comes from Hamlet, the play by Shakespeare, with the famous soliloquy 'to be or not to be'. Hamlet is in a battle with his mind as to whether or not to live anymore. This, I feel documents the feelings many people go through with mental illness and certainly resonates with how I felt. I use it to remind myself that I was right to choose the option to be, to exist. We are all unique, special and contribute to society merely by existing.

We need folk to sit and listen to what we have to say

"We need folk to sit and listen to what we have to say, to try and understand what we are feeling, you cannot do that by treating the symptoms and ignoring the cause." This quote sums up my experience with, and views towards the treatment of depression.

I reached out to those who were willing to listen and try to understand what I felt and I will be eternally grateful to those friends who did this.

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Read Matt's blog www.itsoktotalk.wordpress.com and contact him on Twitter @Talk_Out 


 

Comments

Talking to people about how we feel

<p>I believe that Matt is absolutely right, that talking to people is a potentially positive action.</p><p>Yes, as he says, there will be people who seem to be friends but who brand someone as self indulgent or weak, using the words and phrases that he quotes, when they say how it is for them. It sounds to me as though Matt has been strong by keeping doing what helps him - he can live a better life, and maybe support others&nbsp;</p><p>This language of strength and weakness is stupid: physics has a strong and weak electric force, but both are necessary, and it's no good having one without the other. Sometimes the people who say 'Look at me, I am a strong person' are just cowards, hiding behind a bullying exterior - they deserve to be understood, too, but, as long as they stay puffed up, it is hard for them to understand themselves, and so change.</p>

depression

<p>i agree that talking is good, but sometimes getting somone to open up is difficult, my husband was diagnosed with bi polar, but latley he is having more down's then ups. we have three doctors in our practice and we have seen each one,&nbsp; two of them just changed his medication the thrid refered us back to the pschiatrist, we go on the 31st july. the stigma is still around especially in older people, my husband is 64, and my step dad in his 80's thinks that if my husband gets a hobbey everything will be fine !&nbsp;&nbsp;it dosent work that way, and if you are somone like me who has someone you love suffering, just be there for them, have patience, be understanding they dont like being how they are no more then you do, but think it must be 10 times worse for them then you. you can walk away, they cant it is with them 24/7&nbsp;</p>

GPs

<p>I am probably not in a position to judge, but it does not sound as though the surgery is helping much.</p><p>Of course, it must depend what medication your husband is already taking (e.g. a mood-stabilizer like sodium valproate, or lithium), but it would probably help if the major changes to his medication are determined and then overseen by a psychiatrist: you mention that two GPs changed the medication (which could be the dose or what it is), and it is hard to tell how appropriate that might have been.</p><p>If you can support your husband to tell the psychiatrist how he feels, and how he lives from day to day (what he does or doesn't do, whether you have to prompt or encourage him to do things or look after himself, whether his attention or concentration wander), that might, with a good psychiatrist who listens and wants to make things better by responding with useful actions and suggestions for you both (since you are effectively your husband's carer), get your husband and you a better quality of life (over time, and building things up)&nbsp;and help ease the worst effects of the depression.</p><p>If your husband is not yet taking a mood-stabilizer, that could be something to consider - carefully, as there are implications as well as possible benefits - starting with this appointment. I imagine that the psychiatrist might talk about it, if your husband is not currently taking one.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Take care</p>

GP'S/DEPRESSION

<p>Jim is on defrecote mood stabaliser, he has been on it for about 5 months and is currently taking fluoxetine as well. he is niot in a good place, he is seeing a doctor again today, we think maybe the medication is not working, we have to wait untill the end of the month before we can see the pschiatrist. he tlks to me and&nbsp;i have said that we must tell the doctor everything he tells me, if he had a choice he says he dosent want to be here, but he cant take his own life and wishes he could just die naturally in his sleep.</p><p>i sit with him and let him talk when he wants too and go to all his appointments with him, i am just hoping something can be done for him, it is so&nbsp;sad to see him struggling with life. </p><p>thank you for your comments, sometimes the carer needs to talk to somone too, it is hard hearing that the person you love dosent want to be alive amymore and frustrating too because i cant help him.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>

Supporting Jim

<p>Have you asked Jim how much your support means to him, and whether it helps him believe in a future that he can't see?</p><p>I am sorry not to reply before, but I suspect that Jim would genuinely say that you mean more to him and help him more than you believe.</p><p>It could easily be that the medication, the mood-stabilizer is not the right one for him, and maybe the psychiatrist, if sympathetic to what Jim is reporting, will want to&nbsp;try changing it to something else - there are other things that Jim could take. I am sure that it helps that&nbsp;you go with Jim to these appointments - if you can confirm the things that Jim has said to you, I would hope that there would be a willingness to try something else.</p><p>I am not a stranger to feeling sometimes that I wish that I would die in my sleep: I don't like feeling like that, but that is how it is at times. Be what support you can to Jim, and never underestimate what you mean to him, even when he isn't experiencing things as he would want, and feels negative.</p><p>I hope for you both that something else can be tried that might work better - this doesn't seem to be working. Take care!</p>

supporting Jim

<p>Jim is always telling me how good i am being for him and thanks me all the time and also appogises all the time, he know he has no need to thank me, but if it makes him feel better then thats fine, i think he is willing to try anything they suggest, he was on lithium for about three years and then two years ago decided in his wisdom that he could do without, and he managed for nearly two years , he wasnt doing too bad. he says he now knows that was the wrong thing to do. </p><p>i will go with him, as i always do,&nbsp; he has said to the doctors before now that i should speak up for him, and i do tell them everything he says to me, i just keep encouragingg him that there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that we take small steps and everyday he feels fine is good, if you know what i mean. it's only three weeks away so we wuill see what the pschiatrist says. i will let you know how we go on. </p><p>i must also thank you, it is good to talk to someone who knows what we are going through.</p><p>Helga.</p>

What a moving story x As a

<p>What a moving story x As a person with depression i often share my feelings of despair with my loved ones, i have never really looked at the consequence of how hard that must be for them to hear. You are a real tower of strength and i admire that so much.&nbsp; I am sure your support is hugely appreciated xx take care of you too - try not to let that black dog swallow you aswell.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Depression

Hi I'm 18 and have depression some times I am fine bUt wen am not its horrible I was on fluoxetine 2 a day for around 5 months and was also on them web I was 16 now my doctor has taken me completely of the tablets and sent me councilng but now I feel terrible now am not takin them and just wondering if any1 cud tell me how else I could get past it? Please x

Hi Paula, the two charities

<p>Hi Paula, the two charities that run our campaign, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, both run excellent infolines and can give you confidential advice about depression and the treatments available. You can find contact details for their infolines on their websites here:&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/our_advice_information/index.html">http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/our_advice_information/index.html</a>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines">http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines</a></p>

depression

Hi Paula, my husband has been diagnosed as bi polar for over 12 years, and has tried various medication. this year was going very badly and i got onto the psychatrist again. he is also on flouxetine, and they wasnt doing much good, but this new doctor has put him on a mood stabaliser, he was having more 'downs' then 'ups'. but i had to fight to get him on the right medication, if you feel that counselling alone is not doing you any good, be firm and insist on seeing a psychatrist, they deal with depression as family doctors are not as good at understanding. no offence if a practice doctor is reading thiss. my point is, you know what is best for you, they dont know how you feel and sometimes talking just isnt enough be firm.

I'm trying to do my part for

I'm trying to do my part for helping those with mental health by creating a documentary for a college project if anyone here, with any mental health problems willing to be interviewed please get in contact my email address is

documentary for college

my husband has bi polar, he did a similar thing with the mental health group in Lichfield, I am sure he would help out, or if you need anything from the carers side , I can help, the more people that know about it from both the patient and the carer the better people will understand. my husband is doing okay, we still see the pchiatrist (sorry) , he is on a mood stabaliser and an anti depressant. he still has what we call 'blips' but we manage them the best we can and I can now tell when he is going to have one, I have learnt to read him well. but if we can help please let me know, reply to my email as I don't often look at this site now.

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