August 21, 2012

Photo of Claire, a Time to Change bloggerIn my experience, you shouldn't expect too much of people when it comes to telling them about your mental health. That's not to say we should all be cynical but I think if there's one thing I have learned it's that we should never undervalue the constant support networks in our lives.

I'm lucky for the most part, I have a partner who goes above and beyond when it comes to supporting me and he loves me at my very worst; having seen me in some really low periods. I was originally diagnosed with Severe Clinical Depression in 2007, though I had been feeling 'not right' for years before that.

A counsellor at University had urged me to see a GP and only then did I get my diagnosis. I've since also been diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and the two illnesses often feel overwhelming. Telling my partner wasn't a huge deal at the time, we hadn't been together long and I would rather him have left me early on if he couldn't cope. Instead, he stood by my side and has been there ever since.

I've heard all the cliches...

Unfortunately, this hasn't been something that extends beyond my partner and immediate family. I've heard all the cliches: that I just need some sleep, I need to snap out of it, stop taking life so seriously, stop being paranoid.

The thing I found hardest to explain to people was how my moods couldn't be changed by thought alone. It wasn't that I didn't want to feel happy. I couldn’t feel happy. Friends eventually stopped inviting me out, stopped replying to messages and drifting out of my life. New friends I make along the way invariably drift off too, usually after the first time they see how low I can get during a particularly bad relapse. I don't blame them for it, but it certainly makes it much harder to speak freely about my health when new people arrive in my life.

it's still initially hard to have that talk and tell them I take medication for a mental illness

Every new person I speak to brings a new perspective to things and I welcome fresh outlooks but it's still initially hard to have that talk and tell them I take medication for a mental illness and have regular therapy.

I don't want this to be a negative take on telling those you care about that you are suffering or have suffered. I admire those that are able to talk about their diagnosis without flinching and it's what I have come to aspire to.

My parents and my partner have been constantly supportive and never impatient

Given that I've suffered with spells of depression for almost 10 years now it can be extremely difficult to see a brighter future but I won't give up. Why? Because of this immediate support network I have. My parents and my partner have been constantly supportive and never impatient.

If you have someone in your life that laughs and cries with you, that doesn't hesitate to grab your hand and guide you into the light when it feels too dark, treasure them. Cherish them. Find strength in their love because I know just how powerful it can be in battling depression.

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