February 28, 2012

Red flower"I have mental health problems". How daunting and overwhelming does that sound? It's certainly not something I've ever said aloud before. It feels strange, like something that applies to other people. But that's the thing about mental health isn't it ... it's all around and affects people you would never expect, who you would never suspect.

But once you start to face up to it, it feels like it's everywhere you turn, forcing you to accept what you've been denying for years. So here's the thing: "I have mental health problems. I experience repeated periods of depression". And guess what, the world didn't stop turning as I wrote that last full stop!  It has been with me on and off since I was a teenager, when I made some particularly inept suicide attempts. So why do I feel like such a fraud writing this? Because I have no official diagnosis and, apart from a very short period on anti-depressants in my twenties, I've never seen a medical professional and until late last year, I'd had no real help. I haven't got what I would call a 'serious condition' like bi-polar or schizophrenia and I have no significant trauma in my past to explain the way I feel. Yet I am depressed and I don't know how to control it.

So at the ripe old age of 30-something my inability to cope with the stresses of my life made me bite the bullet and look for help. Those stresses are nothing so major - I have a good life, with a stable job and loving husband - but still I find the pressure I put on myself hard to handle. And that's what makes it so hard to talk about, so hard to explain. How can I expect my boss, my family and friends to understand or take it seriously when I have nothing to complain about, no label to explain my feelings or behaviour? How could I hold my head up and talk about depression with no fear when all around me my peers are coping and achieving?

So I've started a journey into a whole new world - talking about how I really feel, diary keeping, depression scales, and probably generally leaving my unfortunate new therapist feeling like he's taken on an unpredictable whirlwind! I'm a few months in and it feels too early to say what the outcome will be - I'm not really sure what it should be? A miracle cure would be nice but for now it's a liberating feeling just to be able to talk and have space to share and be open without the need for that brave, external face of someone in control and coping with every day.

And since starting that journey, I've found a whole other world of information and support, of sites like this. And I hope that by writing this, albeit anonymously, in a small way it will help other people in my position come to feel that they too deserve support, regardless of diagnosis or history. For if I'm sure of anything, it's that I'm not unique. This is a small step compared to the brave people who share their stories publicly and openly for the benefit of all, but to me that's how big changes sometimes happen - with lots of  people taking one small step together. I might still be whispering but finally it is time for me to talk.

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

Perfectly put!

You could have been writing my story, that's how closely I can identify with what you have written here (besides the added challenge of 2 of my 3 sons having autism). I applaude the courage it took you to do this. Best of luck on your treatment.

Whatever the cause of your

<p>Whatever the cause of your condition, you have made the bravest and wisest decission you could by choosing to get help and speak (almost) openly about it. Keep up the good work and all the best in the future!</p>

Your Feb 28th blog on depression

<P>Bravo for you.&nbsp; I can relate on so many levels with the exception that my depression &amp; anxiety did not start until I was 52.&nbsp; It was a total 180 from my "normal" self - tried to hide it until I could not anymore.&nbsp; I too, have a wonderful family &amp; friends who have been wonderfully supportive.&nbsp; I wish you all the best.&nbsp; c</P>

I am whispering too...

<p>Thank you for posting your experience with depression. You have pretty much written my story for me. I, too, have suffered since my early teens but, until recently, have pretty much lived in denial about the whole thing. I have an amazing husband, a job I enjoy, family and friends, a good life so, in the eyes of others, why should I be depressed? But, I am. Simple as that. So, like you, I feel like a fraud. I feel ungrateful and unappreciative. Since being signed off work, for two weeks,&nbsp;last February, I have been on a rollercoaster. My moods and emotions are all over the place and I can no longer cope with the smallest amount of stress without taking a nosedive into despair. My manager makes all the right noises, but basically humours me, and I haven't told my parents because I just can't handle them looking at me as if I have somehow failed. My husband is my rock and my friends are supportive. Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I need help - more help than I am getting - and am seeing my GP with a view to taking medication. This is hard for me to swallow (literally) as I don't even like taking painkillers for a headache. I am hoping that I can at least get back to a point where I can look forward to things, as opposed to enduring them between getting up in&nbsp;the morning and going back to bed at night. It is nice to know that there are people out there who are tackling the same issues.</p>

Wow...thank you for

Wow...thank you for sharing...I could have written this...really...it's so similar to my own situation. It's been hard work but I've managed to slowly arrange for those good things in my life to serve as my support network when I'm ill. It's not perfect, but every time I get sick, I get better at managing it and so do my loved ones. Miracle cure it is not, but being brave enough to recognise professional treatment will help, and just wanting to try to stay well is a major step you can be proud of...let alone sharing it. And therapists are trained to deal with tornadoes not just whirlwinds so dont be shy! Sharing that I manage depression with people has actually been empowering for me, and something i now rarely hesitate to do (I even just intentionally used my name on this post instead of saying anonymous!). Once i 'found' the language to use like a little script, it became easier and much less awkward to talk about. Like when asked by a colleague why I've been off for a few weeks, I say "I manage depression and had a bit of a relapse, but I'm glad to be back thanks for asking". Or if I don't want to share with someone I can still choose to say "Aw, I don't really want to get into it, but I'm better thanks for asking...". I agree it's forums and impactful campaigns like this (and people being brave enough to share!!) that make it even easier, so I am grateful. The main thing I try to remember is: If someone is the kind of person to judge me for an illness i did not choose, I wouldn't value their opinion anyway.

Thank you for speaking up

<p>Your writing and expression are wonderful, and I'm sure so many people will be able to relate to your post....... also,the more we all speak up, the more people will realize that be it depression, OCD, Bipolar Disorder or any other form of mental illness, they are all real and need to be taken seriously.</p>

So good to hear that there

So good to hear that there are people getting help, i have been down this road so many times and fallen flat on my face that i do wonder is it all worth it. Then i look at the stories here and give myself a good talking to and try again.

Beautiful

What you have written here is nothing but beautiful. Congratulations on being brave and fighting the good fight. No matter the diagnosis you have the right as a living breathing human being to be taken seriously and get help that is out there. I wish for you, peace, happiness and stability. Thank you for sharing. You may think its a whisper but we have heard.

A big step forward

<p>A great blog, that I can really identify with. I would say that you have taken a huge step forward. In my experience, since I have stopped trying to deny my condition and started being more open with others, I have felt so much better about myself. I have come to terms with the fact that my tendancy to depression is as much part of who I am as the colour of my eyes, and it has been a long journey; but acceptance of that has brought much relief. Take care, and good luck on your journey from a fellow traveller</p>

whispering

<p>Well spocken, Ive been "in the sytem" since 1982 and have had minor &nbsp;spells before that. I was a life assurance agent and the pressure of that job really " did me in " Also I was unlucky enough to be the driver ( whilst doing my job ) of a car in front of which a &nbsp;woman pedestrian seemed to Throw herself &nbsp;in front of me. the car was a write &nbsp;off but I was more concerned about the poor &nbsp;lady than the ruddy car !! ( its happened in 1982 and the coroner put it down to "bad street lighting " &nbsp;) &nbsp;it was on the A5 in Milton Keynes ) one of my drs said that the Lady ( God rest her) was not the only person to die in the accident , meaning me!!! Eevn today I still have nightmares ( am now 63) My family life went out the window and for years I could not get back behind a wheel let alone inside a car .Ive also had relationships since then but even my last ladyfriend didnt make it. they found her by a gas oven , only 45 !! I have two lovely &nbsp;grown up daughters, louise and Jane and have never been allowed to see my 5 grandchildren . to top all that i had an exteremly horrendous stroke April 2011 and went this am for yet another MRI scan ( on Own ) blessings &nbsp;to you, JK &nbsp;)0( &nbsp;</p>

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