I am sure that like many of you, when you first got your diagnosis of depression you nearly went into shock, with complete disbelief. Then you probably asked yourself “how could something happen like that possible happen to me?“, or said “I am this; I am that; I don’t have time; this happens to other people’, and so on.
Well, I know that’s how I felt! I knew I was tired, I knew my blood pressure was higher than was liked, and I also knew that I had been coping with a lot of stress and pressure. This was coming from work, home, family, in fact from every corner of my life, but at the time, I hadn’t seen it that way. That was until the day my body simply said “enough, I can’t do this any more”. It felt like everything inside literally shut down, as I experienced the worst panic attack of my life, and that was nearly 13 years ago.
At first a course of Diazepam made sure I laid low, I couldn’t function; I couldn’t think; I became a third person, not quite understanding what was going on with me. I know I have never been as frightened of anything since that day. The physical pain I felt as my muscles that had previously contorted themselves, began to relax back into place, completely overwhelmed me. I had never before felt so incredibly tired or incapable, I simply could not pick myself up, I slept and slept and this continued for a few weeks.
At first, I didn’t know how to refer to what had happened to me, what to call it when other people asked, I couldn’t find the right words. In fact it’s only been in the last couple of years that I have actually called it ‘my breakdown’, because that’s exactly what it was, a breaking down of me. At least it’s a phrase that people can and do understand.
A few months had passed, and it was obvious that I was still in no state to return to work, I was still too messed up, I had lost my energy, my confidence and motivation. I became a shadow of my former self, that once assertive lady, had disappeared almost in a puff of smoke.
It took some time to finally admit that I was indeed depressed. I say admit, because that’s what you have to ‘own up’ to, we have to admit to ourselves, that we have fallen.
Next we have to accept IT, and also accept the fact that we need help, without a doubt. Not an easy thing to do if you’re still in denial. To explain that better, the way I describe depression when speaking to other (possible/potential sufferers) people, is that it is like a series of steps going down. Everybody, suffers with depression at some point in their life, you may not call it that, but you may say you’re feeling low, down, stressed, miserable, unhappy or tearful and so on. Those are all fundamental feelings and emotions that are part of depression.
The difference is, is that most people will be able to pick themselves up etc.. within a day or so, and can fix it by a new haircut, getting back to the gym, go on holiday, retail therapy or anything that makes them feel good again. So as far as the steps are concerned, they may have only fallen down one or two of them.
Then, there are some people, where that’s not quite enough, they need a little more. Maybe time out from work, counseling, resting, doing activities, taking medications for a short period of time, is required. But again, they will come out of it, and have probably fallen 4 or 5 steps down.
And finally, we have some people, me included, that feel as though the rug has been literally pulled from under our feet; sending us tumbling down into the abyss, hitting the bottom so hard, we are dazed. When you’ve reached that point, there is no real choice, there is no way that we can climb those steps back up, without the help of medication. We are left feeling so alone and unheard, as we struggle in the darkness, until the right balance of meds are found, and only then do we stand a chance of recovery. But in some cases, even that’s still not enough, and we have to face the possibility that we will never get to the top of the steps again, or at least not for a very long time.
We learn skills to try and combat it, in order to be as well as we can, but there are still many occasions when you can’t help falling again; so it seems like we are yo-yoing in and out of it.
‘Depression’, IS a chemical imbalance, and it is also an illness. There is still such a stigma attached to depression, which is ridiculous when you know the true global extent of the numbers involved. But stigmatized it is. Maybe it’s the old fashioned view of madness, that’s stuck in peoples’ minds, which obviously doesn’t help. But with that kind of attitude it’s no wonder that we can feel so isolated, alone and lost. Depression can be a very solitary journey as I found to my cost, I removed a lot of “friends” from my life, because they were so damaging to my health.
It’s not nice having to do this, but lack of understanding and the refusal to listen on their part, was so incredibly painful, it was toxic. They were hurting me far more, than they were helping me. Perhaps because of the woman I was before, I have become very outspoken about this illness, I can’t tolerate that kind of ignorance anymore. My once silent voice is silent no more, as I know I have nothing to feel ashamed of or be embarrassed about.
It is a simple fact of life.
Like Sharon’s writing? You can find more of her work here http://sharon-honestlyspeaking.blogspot.co.uk