How do you tell someone what depression feels like?

David, a Time to Change bloggerI’ve always been someone who people generally view as easy going, opinionated, a bit of a laugh. I suppose I am all of those things but it’s not the whole story. I’ve suffered from bouts of major depression and anxiety throughout most of my adult life alongside long periods where depression hasn’t had any relevance in my life at all. I work as a teacher and have always done so, I also manage other people. My management style is somewhere between David Brent in The Office and Arsene Wenger.

The hardest part of depression is finding a way to tell people. It is like you are hiding a terrible secret. I think I felt ashamed of myself for getting depression, like somehow I had failed. That’s what depression does to you: it makes you feel like a terrible failure. There are still those quite close to me who probably don’t know that I’ve suffered from crippling depression. I remember that people didn’t know what to say in response. Someone offered me a ticket to an Elton John concert (insert joke here!)

I tended to inch my way along to a ‘full disclosure’: How are you? ‘I’ve not been feeling too good’, ‘Not great’, ‘I’ve been better’, ‘A little down,’

I tended to inch my way along to a ‘full disclosure’: How are you? ‘I’ve not been feeling too good’, ‘Not great’, ‘I’ve been better’, ‘A little down,’…. If people still don’t get the message then they’re a little slow. Then of course there are some who don’t want to accept that you are depressed. They say things like “Oh, you’re probably just tired... you’ve been working too hard… you’ll feel better in the morning…” If you’ve suffered depression you’ll know how hollow these things sound. But, if you’re usually someone who likes to joke around, people find it hard to accept this new depressed you.

Wow, I’m sounding like a great conversationalist eh? But that was when I could even get myself to speak to people at all. In the throes of my worst times of depression, I couldn’t face seeing people at all or even speaking to them on the phone. Why? Because it feels as if you are not you anymore, you’re just a hollow shell. You can’t be bothered with yourself anymore so why should other people? How can you possibly tell someone that you feel like you want to die? How can you describe the arctic winter wipe out blizzard that has become your headspace? But, I tried, I made a pact with myself not to hide if possible, to talk to friends on the phone, to chat about the cricket, because sometimes a tiny ray of sunshine in the shape of a story, a joke, an opinion, a kind word, would, just for a nano-second, help me forget that I was depressed. And that tiny moment is precious.

I was very lucky in that I was able to tell a close colleague at work

Incredibly, I was able to carry on working. I was very lucky in that I was able to tell a close colleague at work what I was going through. They listened and they didn’t judge. They knew that I was often on auto pilot, that I was operating at only about 30% of capacity, that I’d suddenly developed a need to go outside and smoke 5 times a day, but they didn’t treat me any differently than they ever had. Well that’s not true. They treated me with even more kindness and respect than ever before. But it was difficult. I’m the manager, I’m supposed to lead the team and I was really not feeling like leading.

With depression, telling people is a personal choice. I think it is important to keep talking and to be honest, particularly with people closest to you. Of course no one should feel ashamed of being depressed (even though you do) but it’s probably wise to choose your confidants carefully at work in the same way as you might decide to share other very personal things about yourself only with certain people.

It doesn’t feel like it at the time but depression gives you an insight into suffering which can only help you become a kinder and more understanding person

Now that I have thankfully recovered I’m certainly more careful to look beyond other peoples responses of ‘Not so good’ ‘a bit down’ etc and just check that they are ok. It doesn’t feel like it at the time but depression gives you an insight into suffering which can only help you become a kinder and more understanding person.

Poem taken from my collection A Million Acts of Resistance:

Speak

Some speak of moving through a spectral landscape,
or the insistence of a black dog come to visit.
Others describe the howling of an arctic winter,
the roaring wind, the shrieking face of anxiety.

For me, after the white out there was dust
like the aftermath of an explosion, that time
before realization: suspended quiet before
the wail of alarms or running of feet.
A dust had come like a charm and settled quietly
over everything.

How that profound dust choked.
Not like the slight honest dirt which rests
almost politely on the edge of a sideboard.
More a heavy persistent smudge,
working into familiar places:
a football game, a workplace, while cycling,
the road itself, the cars and sky all draped
in merciless grey.
A fine silt collected on the faces of children.

At the point of despair, in the numbing
muteness which is mental pain,
we seek to give that thing a name.
We mutter to the silent whiteness, show yourself.
That we might find some tool to begin,
Some language that could whisper in the dark:

"...Here is a lamp, a candle stub.
Here is a stick to beat the dog off.

Here is a tent to keep warm.
Hold on. I will fetch tools, fire, food,
a brush, a broom."

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Comments

I couldn't have put it better myself!

I too am a teacher, I too suffer crippling bouts of depression. I completely agree with what you say, in particular: "It doesn’t feel like it at the time but depression gives you an insight into suffering which can only help you become a kinder and more understanding person". Depression has made me a kind / compassionate person I wouldn't be if I had never had it. It has also made me appreciate every single moment of my life a lot more than I would have without depression..

Thank you

I am off work at the moment with depression. Reading what you had written is exactly how I feel and it is reassuring but sad to know there are others in a similar situation. I feel as a teacher the stigma is almost worse, as who wants a depressed person looking after their kids? My latest bout has lasted almost a year and in the end time off was the only answer, although I cried when I had to send my sick note in with the awful word Depression written for all to see. At work I put on a smile, I have an energy that infuriates me and the 'happier' I appear hides a shell surrounding the crumbling mess that is inside. One day, as I sat staring with an empty head begging for a way out of this world, without causing unnecessary upset to my family, someone came in and asked what my secret was to being so happy. From the inside I was screaming and not a soul on the outside could see and every time I tried, the words would not come out my mouth to ask for help. Our job is demanding, we are in the profession because we care and as someone recently said, teaching is like a gas, it fills every space. And that is true. When I am strong, I know depression is an illness not a label of failure but sitting here, looking at the blessed and charmed life I lead with a beautiful family, it makes even less sense why I would end up in such a mess. It seems remarkable that there are so many teachers out there, standing up and inspiring a generation of young lives when they feel so utterly desperate themselves. We need to talk more about it and let the youngsters and colleagues in our care know it is ok and what to do if it happens to them. I hope one day I can have that courage and urge those of you who understand, who have become kinder and more compassionate for having gone through this hell, will find the strength to educate our young people,friends and family in mental health issues.

Great article David and very

Great article David and very courageous. I also suffer from depression and used to be a teacher. How you cope with the stress and pressure as well as this deserves a nobel prize. Your piece makes many who read this and also have depression feel less alone. Many thanks

Well done for getting through

Well done for getting through it!! I found your story really inspiring. As a newly qualified teacher and someone who has suffered from bouts of depression (not for a while, thankfully) I often wonder if this career is something you can sustain during a period of depression. I often struggled to even speak to friends or colleagues or take care of myself properly, nevermind have several classes of children in my care. Thanks for sharing your story. C

How accurate

Great blog. So accurate it,s scary. I work in the macho driven environment which is sales, and have done for many years. I believe i am seen normally as successful, resilient and very happy go lucky about life. Only now 12 years later am I prepared to speak openly about my bouts of depression. People have no understanding of just how debilitating it is, and look at you as if to say, well what about eating your favourite meal, going the gym or watching your favourite football team. How can you explain to them that during depression you can,t eat your favourite meal as you have no desire to eat anything given that it may aid you staying alive which is most definitely not something you are sure if you want. Why go the gym to keep yourself fit when you worry that being too fit may stop that oh so sweet solution of overdosing on your medication fail and why bother watching your favourite football team which in well times wouLd have you wound up like a coil, when life itself has no apparent feeling and how can you feel like this when you holiday in some fantastic places all over the world, lovely house, well paid job, drive a brand new mercedes, a perfectly happy marriage and two very successful kids. Why? Well there is no answer, it just happens that i like millions of other people happen to be succeptible to what i consider the cruellest condition on the planet

David's blog

Had to laugh at the well-meant offer of a ticket to an Elton John concert; didn't he and Bernie Taupin write 'I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself' early on? 'Someone Saved My Life Tonight' also had inspiration from a black time - Elton attempted suicide to get out of getting married to a woman who was an heiress to a pickle franchise, only he left all the windows open when trying to turn the gas on! I'm not belittling what you've gone through with depression - I've known the greyness you speak of, and seen others in my family experience it too.

courage to endure

Hi, I'm a trainee primary teacher struggling with my work load for my second school experience because my anxiety and lack of confidence (both the effect of a mental health crisis three years ago) still influence me and cause me to over plan.... massively... I spent six hours on one, one hour English session! As you can imagine my target is to get my planning time under control... which really means get my mental health under control... I'm not sure it's going to be as easy as all that... I might manage controlling the planning... but healing the core issue... that might take a while, I'm not sure it can be overcome by control. In fact trying to control it, in my experience, is futile... it's more about endurance. But what I really wanted to say was thank you. It's really good to hear of an other teacher who manages to teach despite depression and anxiety... it gives me hope and some courage to endure. Currently I'm not sure I'll seek a full time post or even complete my NQT year, it depends if I can make it through to the end of this school experience and then through the next steps of the course successfully. My psychologist (also an ex-teacher) thinks I'll make it, but I'm doubtful. (Which is typical). I'm glad that you're currently well. I hope things stay that way. Thanks again for your courage in writing about this. Take care, :) K

Similar circumstances

Hi. I read your post and felt I was reading about my self. I am trying to complete my final year of primary teacher training and have just be diagnosed with depression. It takes me an age to mark one pieced work as I am constantly questioning myself. I'm being supported by my yni but I have to tell my school mentor later today and I feel really anxious. Did you tell your mentor or anyone at the school? How did your placement go?

Relate to the child who is finding life hard

I really want you to make it as a teacher, because you can make a difference for a lonely child in the future. Because of what makes you you, you! Will see the signs or feel that something is very wrong- because depression gives you insight into awareness of grief, or sadness. As a child my life was lousy. I didn't talk to anyone about my home life and was really miserable. I had a violent alcoholic father and my mother worked evenings so was left on my own or with my older sister alot of the time. The signs were there, but I didn't have a friend to tell how it really was, even a priest. You can make a difference and be there for a lonely abused child. Very Best Wishes and persevere

Open & Honest

What a brilliant insight. Thanks for sharing.

depression

David Thank you for your story, like you Ive suffered with depression for most of my life. When it comes it hits me like a sledgehammer but their is nothing I can do. I do ask for support from friends and family but its a fear of something then anxiety and panic hit you, but you dont know what or why you have this. People say to me you need to get out, build a better life and meet people youve got too much time on your hands, or join some new clubs, what do you like doing. You know theyre trying to help but unles youve experienced depression you cant begin to understand what it does to you. Dealing with emotional situatuons is awful. At the moment I have this overwhelming fear that when my youngest daughter goes to university next year, ill be alone, literally living by myself as im divorced dont know if this fear has triggered this bout of depression I dont know. I then tell myself not to be silly the world hasnt ended and that i will be ok as im sure i will im trying counselling next week so hope to get myself back to some semblance of a happy life. Elaine

depression

Hello Elaine. Thanks for your comments. It is a truism that it is very hard to know how someone with depression really feels. I benefited greatly from counselling, although it was hard at times and i was anxious about that too. It made a huge difference in the end and i still check in to see my counsellor now every 3 months or so. I hope it works for you and that you start to feel better. David

Depression

Hi Elaine Thanks for your open and honest comments and I have only just found this website this morning. Although I feel for you deeply, it's comforting to me that other people are experiencing the same thing. I had depression some 5 years ago and although I hate it I am still living on my own and feel this has a lot to do with it for me. In the last 12 months my anxiety has increased from just when I have been in a heated discussion with ex partners, to nearly every week now and for no reason at all. I feel physically sick and shake and I struggle to come back from this feeling. I think some brief short term relationships that ended during last year has brought this on because I wear my heart on my sleeve and have got hurt quite badly. Like you, friends say I have too much time on my hands and need to get a hobby or start meeting new friends. They simply don't understand how it feels. From having lots of confidence in relationships in the past, I have very little now and feel I'm going to get let down and find it hard to trust anyone again. If you want to write via email then please feel free. Steve

Replies to my blog

Thank you to everyone for their incredibly kind and supportive comments. I was going to reply to each individually but realized that i didn't have the time or the skill to do each person justice. So forgive this joint comment. It has been very liberating to post about my experiences of depression. I think it also shows me how kind people are out there. I think we are all on the depression spectrum in reality. Like a dimmer switch on a light bulb, we can go from very bright to very dull over the years. I think learning to control the dimmer is what we are all striving to do. The very best wishes to everyone in their journey. Thanks David

Depression

I would like to thank you David for sharing your experience of depression. I cannot express how much this helped in clarifying the way I have felt on and off for most of my life. I am now in my early sixties and have had quite a few tough times and personal tragedies which would have made it personally impossible to have not suffered from depression. I don't like to share those shocking experiences with others but wish I could make them understand my depression. I am proud I have come through difficult times, especially as depression is such a lonely feeling. Thank you so much David for proving that you can have depression and yet still be an intelligent, expressive person working in such an important profession as teaching. You give hope to us all.

Well done and it was great reading.

Hello David it was very good reading as what you were saying sounds so similar to me. i have depression but as a student nurse it is hard to tell people as i feel am the one that should be there to help others not be the one to ask for help. I have told a very few people but am scared of the stigma attached with it and at times when am down the saying your "having a bad day" are meaningless as i just want to be alone and escape from everyday.All i want is to be able to be open and honest to more friends that i trust but the anxiety and stress of fear that i will be judged makes it so much harder but I find your story amazing and thank you for telling us. You are one amazing guy David Thank you

So True

David your comments about feeling ashamnd of having depression and some how being responsible for it ,rang so true with me i cried . i have always been reluctant to tell people i have depression , even my closet friends and family; as i think they will think less of me because of it . which logicaly i know is silly as i also have asthma and migraines and have no qualms telling anyone about these conditions i do feel that i suffer from depression as a result of being a caring person ,however being caring can only be a good thing ..it was good to read other peoples' thoughts and insights as it has made me feel a little less alone ; so thank you !

depression

ive just found this site and read davids blog, ive been suffering from depression for about 12 yrs now never spoken to anyone before my family no im on medication but never gets mentioned,in the last 12 months i have lost my confidence put on alot of weight due to comfort eating, i am crying as i write this i would love to speak to others about this but don,t want to bother people with my problems, ive been told im a really nice person to nice sometimes and to soft and as you can tell im not that good at writing or expressing myself feeling very lonely and scared ive hit rock bottom now and i haven,t got a clue where to go from here!

Hi Lyn,I'm sorry to hear

<P>Hi Lyn,I'm sorry to hear you're going through such a difficult time. If you are looking to talk to people who may have had similar experiences then the forum run by Rethink may be a good place to start: <A href="http://www.rethink.org/talk/">http://www.rethink.org/talk/</A>&nbsp;Or you could contact the infolines run by Rethink <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;or Mind <A href="http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines">http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines</A>&nbsp;and they will be able to give you practical help and advice and may be able to suggest support groups in your local area.</P> <P>Kind regards,<BR>Ed<BR>Time to Change</P>

hi

<p>hi i can relate to your story i was diagnosed as clinacly deppressed five years ago but id suffered years before my diagnosis my family just thought that was the way i was mood swings anger etc i was far from the person they thought i was i just needed help.when i went to the doctors and got the help i needed it got brushed under the carpet i deal with it on my own which is a battle but i take every day as it comes as my family expect me to be just like them happy smiley when this isnt the case i struggle everyday..you are not alone with sites like this we can talk to each other and support one another it will get easier&nbsp;</p>

Depression and anxiety

I found David's Blog very comforting. I have never had anxiety or depression till now at the age of 40. I have gone from being confident and at the top of my profession to very scared and anxious in 15 weeks! I often feel very alone and scared of my thoughts despite CBT telling me they are just thoughts. I have found talking very helpful but I feel trapped and I'm struggling to find the way out. I'm on mirtazapine and don't like the feeling it gives me. It's reassuring for me to read others thoughts as sometimes I feel I'm going mad.

What a great read

Hello!. I'm only 20 and I suffer from OCD, depression and anxiety. I went from a bubbly, outgoing, giggly, smiley girl to..well...miserable to be honest. My fiancées parents can't accept I have anything wrong with me, his mum just thinks I'm attention seeking. It was my parents that realised I had a mental health illness before I did. They sat me down one day and showed me the nhs website. It was like I had just been punched in the stomuch! But it made me realise I wasn't well and I needed some help. I knew I wasn't right but I thought I was just having a bad patch. I absolutely love that poem, and for some reason it made me cry? Haha. Your article is accurate! Thank you for sharing! All the best Bethny x

I have also been prey to very

I have also been prey to very deep depressive episodes all of my adult life and at 52 I have not found a coping mechanism, I just plod along hoping that family and especially work colleagues do not notice how bad things are. As a healthcare professional you would imagine that I would have no fear of discussing this with colleagues as they would understand, but they can be just as narrow-minded as anyone else. Having had no positive outcomes with antidepressant or talking therapies, isolation, loneliness, anger, shame and misery are all I feel now, but I still manage to put on the pretense of being 'fine' . I suppose I may just have to accept that it does not work out well for everyone and some of us will have to accept that this is as good as it gets and you either sink of swim.

depression and anxiety

I have just come across this site after seeing an advert on tv , reading david's blog rang true in many ways for me. I have had several bouts of depression and anxiety many of which i could pinpoint the reasons why but just recently it has reared it head again and can not see away out, but it is down to people like David that I found the courage to seek help firstly from my mum then my doctor who then spoke to mental health nurse who have been really helpful. I can honestly say that you should not go through this alone as there is always someone who is willing to listen and not judge even if they don't understand. I am taking it day by day at the moment and hope that with my support group and medication I will find a way out

Depression and anxiety

Don't know what to say or where to start, or even if I should be doin this. Depression and anxiety is running my life, feel so very very alone got a good family around me but they just don't seem to understand why I am like this... They don't know how to cope with me or what to do. I have to hide how I feel away from them, which makes it so much worse, they want to why I do the things I do, say the things I say when I try to explain it always comes out wrong or they don't like what they hear and they get mad with me. Just wish they could be in my head just for a few minutes then they may understand. I just what help and for people to believe me instead of people thinking I am just makin all this up. Well thanks for lettin me have my little say x

Hi Belinda, on our website,

<p>Hi Belinda, on our website, we have <a href="/talk-about-mental-health/telling-someone-about-your-mental-health-problem">tips about talking to friends and family about your mental health problems</a> that you might find useful.</p>

Hi Belinda, on our website,

<p>Hi Belinda, on our website, we have <a href="/talk-about-mental-health/telling-someone-about-your-mental-health-problem">tips about talking to friends and family about your mental health problems</a> that you might find useful.</p>

hi...well im 20 years old and

hi...well im 20 years old and have felt so sad since i was 15.. I suffer from depression and it hasnt been easy identifying that its a problem i have and that im not the problem that needs to be solved..it hurts so much and i struggle..when you hear others share their stories i get it and i understand it.

A similar situation

I'm 27 and this is the first time I've ever been on a website for mental health, and it has all stemmed from me feeling really down over the last few months, and especially the last few weeks. I'm pretty certain it stems from my work life and where my career is heading. I quit my last job in February in order to go out and find my "dream job" and with all the spare time I've been having I started to ask myself over and over again a question that has got stuck in my head: 'what is the meaning of life?'. This has plagued me for a while and causes me to question my existence and where I'm heading, and as such has led to bouts of depression and anxious thoughts. What does the future hold? Where am I going to be in 10/20/30 years time? Will I ever find my dream job or just plod along in life? Why don't I have a great job, a girlfriend or a house by this time in my life like so many of my other school and university friends? Does this make me a failure? How do others perceive me in life? Eventually one evening I burst into tears and phoned my parents and asked to see them. It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever truly cried my eyes out in front of them, and the release was immense. We had a good long chat, discussed what could possibly be making me feel this way, and what we could do TOGETHER to solve it. I've capitalised the word 'together' as this is the most important thing for me at the moment-knowing that no matter tough and hopeless life sometimes feels for me, that there will always be people who care and love you and will be there for you-it could be friends, family, or as I have just found out the people on this website and blog. I was low this evening before I read any of these blogs and was starting to have lonely, depressive thoughts, but being able to read about other people's experiences and share those of my own has really helped to perk me up. Thank you to everyone x

White Out

Good to find your blog. Im in the midst of a crippling depression atm. I find it very hard to read those blogs full of handy hints and tips for getting out and about when i cant get out of my flat or dressing gown or sometimes bed. I need to hear the bleak and empty and void and terrifying experiences of others as that identification helps me feel that im not alone. Its the same reason i isolate, because i can no longer justify how i feel nor listen to cliched and crass advice from loved ones who purport to have been in the same space as me when they felt 'abit low last tuesday afternoon'. That isolation is a double-edged sword which also brings loneliness and futility. I am 46, both my sons are grown and i live alone in a town where i know no one(my own decision which back-fired). Ive made so many monumental cock-ups in my life and in 2011 i tried to kill myself, instead i recovered with the shame and guilt and physical injuries added to the hopelessness. I know i cant kill myself because of the terrible pain my near-miss caused my 2 wonderful sons. I think about being dead every day. I have foolishly applied to do a Uni course in Oct (this was after it was discovered in hospital i have an extremely high IQ apparently) I have an interview next week and thought applying might help bolster my mood - it has had opposite effect of fear and a constant negative running commentary of 'why bother?' and 'haha, you cant even get out the flat - how are you going to go and sell yourself in an interview when you dont believe in YOU?' I have no motivation, inspiration, purpose. I used to have joie de vivre and had definitely had periods of being fun and happy but they seem out of reach now. Ive tried talking therapies, some ok. I am looking into hypnotherapy (when i can afford - no such thing on NHS round here) and recently i was thinking of ECT - i'd like to hear experiences of both of these, although i know its very much down to the individual. I dont speak to anyone now except those i can be brutally honest with about how i feel - ive definitely scared some people off but im through pretending everythings ok when im dying inside. I keep hoping ill have a road to damascus moment but i doubt it eh?? Ive been off and on anti-deps since i was 19 - currently on venlafaxine - it hasnt appeared to have 'worked' for ages but havent got the strength to start the withdrawal atm. I hope my post hasnt brought you all down but im desperate, lonely and terrifed. With love to you all on your journey, Louise.

Hi Louise, the Samaritans are

<p>Hi Louise, the Samaritans are always available whenever you'd like to talk to somebody about what you're going through. You can call them, email them or visit your local branch to talk to somebody face to face - all the details are here: http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us The 2 infolines run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness will both also be able to give you confidential, expert advice and may be able to highlight support services in your local area. You can find their contact details on the <a href="/what-are-mental-health-problems/help-support-services">help and support services page </a>on our website.</p>

David

I have never written comments on a blog before. I recognise what David has written about. I experience depression myself, and the boring thing is it goes on for years and never really goes away. I have a supportive partner but I am afraid and ashamed to talk to anyone else about what I feel. When I'm like this I don't trust people and that then becomes part of the problem, avoiding people is a vicous circle that increases your sense of isolation, physically and mentally. The longer you leave it the harder it becomes, the barriers just seem too big. I have found in the past that if I edge towards talking about how I feel, people can often respond by telling me how bad they are feeling, what stress they are going through, what their issues are etc - so I end up feeling that I don't have a right to say anything about myself when there are other people out there with their own problems - why would they want to hear about mine? Like David, I feel like I let people down by being depressed and I feel guilty and ashamed. In my whole life I have only ever taken one period of time off work because of depression, ( just 2 weeks), my doctor signed me off with 'stress' - her choice of words. Going back to work after that was incredibly hard and I feel I was treated differently as a result of having time off. For about the first week back my manager treated me with uneasy caution, telling me stories of other people he knew who were 'ill' and asking me questions in a sympathetic tone and then answering them himself! He whispered behind my back so as not 'to overload me' or 'stress' me. He could not sustain this 'understanding' approach and gradually reverted to exasperation and impatience. Fortunately I no longer work with him.

living with depression

i would like to talk with another like me. i think ive always been depressed. lifes events havnt helped. my dad died a year ago. im all alone. i have a 2yr old who doesnt know im dying inside. im very good at hiding my depression. i cant take my life. he is my life. he can never know how miserabe i am. noone can look after him as well as me. he needs and depends on me and vise versa. just wish i had someone to talk to. i feel like im the only one in the world like me , everyone else seems so perfect. if there,s any one else out there who can relate with my feelings please give me a lifeline

Hi Samantha, Mind and Rethink

Hi Samantha, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness (the 2 charities that run Time to Change) both run really active online groups where you can share experiences and advice with other people in a safe, supportive environment. You can access RethinkTalk here: http://www.rethink.org/talk/ and Mind's Elefriends here: http://elefriends.org.uk/

Depression

I am 59 years old and have been divorced for 5 years. I feel I should be getting happy again but I am panicked because I feel constantly on the verge of screaming, crying, fear and I can't seem to find a way to heal myself. I feel that I should be able to gain control of my life and stop being a burden to my children. I am just lost right now and saying it in written form will maybe assuage the hollowness of my soul. I have 3 children, the oldest has borderline personality disorder and we share an apartment having lost my house to foreclosure and my retirement to my ex. I feel that I can't let my daughter who lives with me down because my ex has nothing to do with the children so I am the only older person she and my other 2 have. I was raised in a very stable and loving family and my parents were always my safe haven. They are both dead now and I have no other people of my generation with which to exchange ideas or even mundane conversation. I sound like a whine baby to myself even. I don't want to spread gloom and despair so I am unable to even categorize my inner turmoil to myself. Oh, this is just weird and I am sorry to even send this but hopefully the anonymity of this form of expression will be enough to protect me yet provide expression. If you have any tips or places that I might go to get free or low cost help please let me know. Good luck with your struggles.

nothing

I told my mum when I was 7 that I was depressed, even then I knew it. She told me not to be ridiculous, what could a child have to be depressed about? I have never spoken to anyone since about this. I am 43. I have no siblings, no partner, no children. I have tried to seek help from Samaritans, I said I was struggling to cope and the response was one of 'I'm not sure what you want us to do, we can't make decisions for you'. If they couldn't help, what else is there? The stigma of a depression diagnosis will make my life hard at work ad I have a difficult job and we are expected to be 'resilient'. I am stuck.

Your lifetime experience

Thank you for sharing your story. I've been enduring my first bout of major depression for roughly 7 months now with no end in sight. Past bouts were mild compared to this. I have been able to work through it (which I'm thankful for) but it's been rough. Can you share how many bouts you've had, their frequency and how long they've lasted so I have an idea of what to expect? Thanks, David

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