February 8, 2013

About five months ago, my partner and I were struggling with coming to terms with the devastating effect my depression had on our relationship.

The first time I approached him about the subject was a few months prior. I told him I was depressed and he said "no you're not". End of discussion.

Needless to say, my depression did not simply go away and with time we both realised that something was not right with the way we were dealing with it.

I was telling myself that I did not need professional help but I was in a downward spiral of denial whilst my partner chose to avoid the issue.

He preferred to sweep it under the carpet rather than admit that I was not the same woman he fell in love with.

I used leaflets about depression as a way to talk to my partner

Finally one day, it all got too much and we could no longer blame our problems on other things. By this point I had received a small lifeline from mental health volunteers who had given me leaflets on depression and anxiety, which contained information on how to broach the subject with loved ones. Determined, I took those leaflets to my partner and asked to talk about the issue.

This was the turning point in my life. From then onwards I opened up to my best friends, and with their help, along with partner's, I realised that I needed to see a doctor and get professional help.

Anxiety and depression did affect my relationships

We still struggled, all of us, to come to terms with how our relationships had changed with the development of my depression. It's an on-going process of communication.

I used to tell my partner that communicating was the only way we were going to get better. I told him how hard it was for me to be in a relationship and he told me how hard it was for him sometimes to hear I was struggling. I told my friends about the battles of everyday life and they told me they would be there for me every step of the way.

Along the way I have lost friends who, instead of reaching out and asking me what was wrong, preferred to remain blind and indifferent about my issues. I was lucky enough to have my base of close friends who were there for me, even when I didn't ask them to be. However, my experience with losing friends left me greatly tainted and worried about how others would react to my illness.

Mental illness is an illness like any other

My anxiety took over and led me to avoid many situations where my illness could be exposed. While I realise mental illness is an illness like any other, the negative stigma attached to it means that being a lone voice talking about it amongst those quick to judge is a scary and daunting task. However, I realised that someone else going through my experience with no help whatsoever was even more daunting and scary.

Now that I am better and I have come to terms with my illness, I feel like I need to share my experiences with others to help them come to term with their struggles.

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