April 13, 2013

EmilyWhen I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety I was incredibly fearful about what people would think of me and how they would react.

The first person I told was my best friend and that was to seek advice on how to tell my mother. Being fifteen years old at the time, the doctor who diagnosed me said that I would need to tell my parents that I was depressed and was on medication.

I remember feeling scared about this. I didn’t know how my parents would react and I was frightened they would think I was over-reacting or trying to seek attention.

I also remember being annoyed at my doctor. I didn’t want my parents to know and I didn’t want to kick up a fuss about it. I just wanted to keep it private and to deal with it on my own.

It felt like a weight had been lifted

When I talked to my Mum it was like an enormous weight had been lifted. She didn’t fully understand the illness and, in all honesty, neither did I. But I didn’t dwell on it. My Mum’s reaction was shock, I remember it clearly. I was usually a happy child but when I had my down day I would try and mask the feeling with a smile, hoping that it was just ‘the blues’ and it would go away soon.

My Mum naturally had questions: how long had I been feeling like it, why I didn’t tell her sooner, what the doctors had suggested etc. I was treading on egg shells answering them, in case something I said would make her annoyed. But she never got angry. She was kind and tender. She allowed me to talk about what had been going on in my life and we finished our talk with a hug and tears, a few tears on her part too.

I used to hide my depression to protect friends and family

The next few weeks my Mum was very supportive. She set me up with counselling sessions and paid for them by the hour. Although I appreciate the gesture, I never found them helpful. And, since I was under sixteen, a lot of what I said (well, the stuff that was ‘worrying’) would go back to my Mum and this made me dislike them a bit. I know it was in my best interest but I never wanted to get my family that involved in my depression, not then and certainly not now either.

My first priority in life is my family and friends, not myself. Therefore, I used to hide my feelings a lot from them, to protect them. Although I know this is not the correct thing to do, I do it anyway because I don’t want to be a burden to them.

Depression and anxiety affected my thought processes

I am a logical and rational person, I’ve been told that many times. Under pressure, I will know what the right thing to do is. When giving advice I will know exactly what to say or do. If I am being put in certain situations I will know how to handle them. However, when I slip into what I call ‘a mood’, my mind becomes completely illogical.

I begin to think irrationally and I can’t stop myself from it. I will truly believe that I was not meant to be on earth, that, if there was a God, why would he give me life to only make me suffer even though I had never done anything remotely wrong. In particular, I would think that no one would care if I was dead.

I'm still afraid of talking about mental illness. I want to change that

I’ve written blogs when I’ve been in a mood before and it’s been shocking to know what I’ve been writing. I have a couple of examples from one I wrote a few nights ago when I was having a particularly rough night:

"I know it's all in my head but that's the most frightening thing about it. If it was external I may have some way of controlling or ignoring it. I can't control or ignore my mind. What it says to me. What it wants me to do. What it thinks of me. What it thinks of my existence. What I think of my existence.”

"I just want to live in peace. I can’t take much more, I’m not strong enough.”

These blogs are currently private but soon I want to make them public. I may still be afraid of talking to my family and friends about my illnesses but I want that to change.

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