The thing is I already had depression; I’d had it and its attendant shadows, weights and bruises for years. I just hadn’t known it… which meant I hadn’t been able to deal with it.
Looking back, the day I met the word ‘depression’, was a good one; in fact, it was one of the best. It was the beginning of good things.
Obviously, I say it was one of the best days, with the value of hindsight; as I sat in the doctor’s surgery, I’ve got to admit I hardly cracked open the champagne. Yet thinking back, even amidst the grey fug of depression at its worst, I do remember feeling relief. Relief that life wasn’t meant to be this way. Relief that it wasn’t my fault that I felt this. Relief that chronic indecision was a symptom and not an essential part of me.
Family and friends
By the time my parents suggested I talk to a nurse, things had got pretty bad. Bad enough that the bruises within had begun to surface; my parents could see something was wrong and we began to talk. As a teenager, I had rarely spoken about my worries, so this was something new. I now talk far more openly with family and friends, whether it’s about a minor argument or about feeling down. For me, it’s one of the best things to come of having depression; I now have far stronger friendships.
I’d been in a battle with an invisible monster for years without even realising it. Being told I had depression, first, meant that I knew I had an opponent and, second, that I could develop tactics to challenge it. Counselling, medication, diary writing and research have all helped me to prevent and tackle depression’s advances.
Figuring stuff out
If life is a journey, as they say, then previously I was stuck in a traffic jam with no map and no idea where I was headed. Now it feels like I’ve climbed a lookout tower: I can see roughly where I want to go and roughly how to get there. I now have the awareness and confidence to make the choices that are right for me. I‘m not saying I’ve got it all figured out because I really don’t, but, from the top of this tower, I’m in a far better place.
As this post proves, I am now far more open; I have shared my experiences of mental health with more and more people. In response, I have discovered that many friends have had similar experiences. Often, they seem relieved to have someone to talk to about it and often, it has meant that we can share the tactics that have helped us.
Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive, writes that he is thankful to have had depression. I don’t know if I could go that far, or not yet. With the good has come the bad and it will continue to do so at times. But I do know, without a doubt, that I’m thankful for the day the GP told me I had depression.
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