April 26, 2012

Photo of Neil, a Time to Change bloggerMy counsellor first gave me the idea to write many years ago. I remember scoffing at the suggestion of starting a journal recalling my primary school days when I used to write awful banal nonsense about my summer holidays.

Me, write? I didn’t think I could and certainly not about the thoughts swirling around my head. Having given it a try though, I can honestly say writing is one of the best tools I have in my battle against depression.

The big thing I’ve found about depression is that I want to tell someone about it. The problem with this is that people respond, both verbally and non-verbally.

I appreciate people are only trying to help but I always felt that I was burdening them with my issue. Even professionals by their body language give off signals which, in my state of mind, I misinterpreted as disinterest in what I’m saying.

Paper doesn’t respond or react and so for me writing is the most pure way of getting my thoughts out of my head.

I was too scared to pick up the telephone

I first went to the doctors about my depression and anxiety 9 years ago. I had graduated the year before and was in my first proper job. And hating it. I didn’t even book the appointment myself, a friend had to do it because I was too scared to pick up the telephone.

I remember being incredibly nervous waiting and having half a mind to run away as I imagined the doctor would just laugh at me. The thought fought for space in my head with the knowledge that all was not well and that I had a problem which needed help.

I remember how self conscious I felt when I first tried writing an entry

My doctor was good as I explained what was wrong and was more than happy to put me in touch with an NHS counsellor. He also asked if I wanted some anti-depression medication. I turned them down as I was of the opinion that pills would be an easy way out and would camouflage rather than address the issues I was struggling with.

My counsellor was brilliant and we spent many sessions talking and coming up with coping strategies of which keeping a journal was one. I remember how self conscious I felt when I first tried writing an entry, how surprised I was at how vitriolic the thoughts were but pleased to know that I didn’t have to censor what I wrote unlike if I was talking with someone.

Again the purity of it all was amazing and a great release of the pent up frustrations that I had been carrying around.

it became something I looked forward to on a daily basis even if I had no idea what I would write

As a result I felt a sense of relief for keeping a journal. From that moment, it became something I looked forward to on a daily basis even if I had no idea what I would write.

There were times when the thoughts came so fast my hand could not write quick enough, times when I was crying so much I couldn’t see what I was writing. I even got worried that, once I’d started crying, I would not be able to stop. None of that mattered. What mattered was the poison was leaving my head, never to return.

I used to visit the counsellor on a Thursday mid-morning every couple of weeks. I’ve no idea what my employer thought I was doing, luckily he never asked me so I never told him. My own health was my number one priority.

 I have had episodes myself where writing didn’t seem to help.

During this time I also learned other coping mechanisms, I was able to go to the supermarket again rather than order online as I had been doing. I was able to go out socially and not worry that everyone was staring at me and judging me.

I’m not naive and I know that depression and anxiety cannot be fought using just one technique. Although I advocate writing I know it may not work for some people. Indeed I have had episodes myself where writing didn’t seem to help.

I had to use different methods, including anti-depressives

So I had to use different methods, including anti-depressives on some occasions. I firmly believe the best way to fight is with a toolkit of different strategies.

Almost 10 years later, I now lead a more ‘normal’ life. I have had more episodes since then and I still maintain that I battle with both depression and anxiety. But I’m much more confident now, safe in the knowledge that, should I need them, I have the coping tools to fight.

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Great view on how what works for one, may not for another.

<p>Great blog.<br><br>I found that writing things down was indeed a great help. Not only as it takes the thoughts from your head for that moment, but also that you can look back as a reminder of how far you have come. I'd say its true that we need a varied amount of remedies. Excercise was my main, but I had wrote many scribbles in a book. All just coming direct from mind to hand, these are your truest feelings and nobody can question or deny them. I never wrote a journal like yourself, I had impulsive moments of writing, they aided me non the less.<br><br>Speaking out, is amazing! Writing down is immortal! And moving on is the greatest thing to of happened to me since!<br><br>Well done. I think many will empathise with this.</p>

I'm moved by your post

Thank you sharing so openly and honestly. I'm sure your post will help lost of people. Writing about this is very brave and important. So glad you shared!

WELLDONE Neil I applaud your honesty

<p>Tools to cope with any Mental health issue are so important and there are so many that youcan gain tools for any and all situations I was in a mental hospital for 18months not caring what happened to me I went down to 7 stone because I was so ill I didnt see a way back, It has been a long hard road and ten years on I am volunteering for Worthing and Arun Mind, I have done training and become a peer mentor, I also have recently started working a few hours a week as a marketing assistant promoting better stigma around mental health. 12 years ago I was earning 40,000 a year now my life is more forfilling helping other to develop strategies to be be able to live a balanced life thats so much more rewarding than the boardroom antics, for me my main outlet is art and I have been coached by an artist, I have an allottement which gives me structure, I am able to give talks and speeches about mental health and work hard to give a persons veiw from the point of someone that uses the mental health services changing the language that is used. I am Not a Problem (mental health problem) I amnot a Service user i give as well as take. keep talking keep writing keep well.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Thank you for sharing Neil.

<p>Thank you for sharing Neil. It seems so simple yet the strategy of having many tools in your arsenal had not occured to me.<br> I am currently enduring another bout of depression and my current medication seems to be powerless in helping me at the moment. I will force myself to write my feelings down.</p>


The gift of writing can help. A great friend and first time author has struggled with depression in the past and after a consultation with a therapist managed to turn his life around. Part of the book’s introduction details how difficult it was to admit there was a problem but rather than seek help chose to ignore it. On a doctor’s advice he began to write. He has recently self published a memoir and is seeking assistance to promote it with the wish to help others that are desperate for a way out and hopes to donate a portion of the profits to this cause He is now looking for assistance to promote his book. Pick it up: (Belfast Tears and Laughter-1957-1977) on Amazon now. (5-star rating). It is truly a great read.

Great Blog

You have shared a very helpful and informative blog with us. I really enjoyed it while reading.

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