I remember the first time I vocalised and admitted the fact that I was struggling with depression and anxiety. Following seven years of sporadic periods of chronic anxiety and panic attacks induced by both smoking marijuana as a teenager and my parents’ break up, I was at university, 22 and suffering a reactive bout of depression triggered by the break-up of a tumultuous relationship.
I am 32 years old, a creative director and brand founder of global beauty brand Isle of Paradise and I am a comedy podcast co-host (yes, some people think I’m funny!). I have a loving partner, a great relationship with my parents and tonnes of amazing friends. I am happy. I’m not lucky. I’ve worked hard for this life, I’ve been nothing but grateful along the way and I haven’t had a life this smooth in the past – trust me.
It’s interesting trying to explain the agony that depression brought into my life to people who are not depressed. I find that people who haven’t fought that particular battle have difficulty understanding what I mean when I say I was not in physical pain per se but I was in excruciating torment nonetheless. Physically, I’m sure my body showed no signs of peril.
‘How can I help?’ and ‘What can I do?’ - these two questions have been at numerous times asked by concerned friends, but as I have pondered what response would best suit the occasion, I’ve never truly answered, because simply, I’ve not known the answer.
How do you let others help you when you don’t always know how to help yourself? That very question for me can be taken on an individual level, and a macroscopic level just as much.
Depression has been a part of my life for over 10 years; yet I still don’t fully understand it. So, how do I explain what “it” is to someone who has no experience of depression in their life?
In all honesty, I’ve rarely been asked to explain what depression means to me. You say the word and people either turn away in fear or they try to relate in attempts to console and/or fill the silence. When really, all I need is for someone to ask “And how does depression affect you?”.