There was nothing in particular that made me realise I was struggling. It was more a cumulation of things and lots of sitting on the floor crying. But I realised I needed to get some help.
It was on a call to my brother that I said the first thing. It wasn’t a full conversation about depression, I just told him that I’d been struggling with my mood. Of course, he knew already. He could tell in the way I had started acting, he understood it. So, slowly, over a few conversations I managed to let out how I felt. It was through talking to him that I booked my first appointment at a doctor, and spoke to someone professional.
I have a long-term partner, close friends and I have a really good relationship with my mum. They are all my go-to people for complaining about work or asking for advice, but when it came to saying anything about the way I was feeling, I couldn’t do it without a lump forming in my throat. So every time I tried, I would back down and change the subject, avoid it because I knew it would make me upset, and avoiding those kinds of feelings was by biggest priority.
I managed to speak to my brother because he had been through similar.
He understood without trying to fix the problem or offer solutions. He listened and when I said something a bit more shocking, he didn’t react to it, and so he didn’t make it into a big thing.
And in that I started to be able to consider my own depression as less of a huge, heavy weight and instead as something smaller and more manageable. Something that could be worked on in a series of steps. We broke them down together, with a focus on the first step: go to the doctor, talk to someone professional.
I didn’t react immediately. I sat on it for two weeks before I called to make an appointment. I got the same lump in my throat as whenever I thought about it. I was so nervous the receptionist would ask me a what I wanted to come in for, even though they have never done that and it was completely irrational. I spent the next two weeks before the appointment panicking over whether I even deserved to have one. Maybe I was just being irrational again? Perhaps I’m just putting unnecessary strain on the NHS? (This was a genuine thought I had) I feel fine today, maybe I’ve just been overreacting? But something in me knew it was the right thing to do because I didn’t cancel that appointment.
When I did come around to telling my partner about it, it was the day before visiting the doctor. I cried. A lot. I struggled to articulate the feeling. I felt embarrassed. He told me that he knew I had been a bit down but didn’t realise the extent of it.
What had felt like a huge storm inside my own head just wasn’t showing in the same way on the outside. I’m good at masking my feelings, joking with friends when I feel sad or being nice to people I don’t really like.
I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t spoken out about it, but I’m so glad I did. Saying the things I was feeling out loud legitimised them for me. I stopped telling myself I was being silly or overreacting and started to treat the feelings as an illness that required healing.