Depression. It’s an enigmatic word that conjures up images of family tragedy and melodramatic teens in equal parts, a word that many don’t understand and even more play off as stress, hormones or dramatic tendencies. Depression is a word that means something different to everyone who hears it.
I was diagnosed with depression in June of this year, although the honest truth is that I have probably known something was seriously wrong since as early as February of 2015. Having spent 3 years studying for a degree I didn’t want and 12 months working in a job that was only taking me further away from where I wanted to be it was little surprise that I crashed…and boy did I crash.
Although this has been something that has affected me for a while now, it took a sharp push for me to fall over the edge. For me that push came in the form of my first ever HIV scare, and although I was later given the all clear it put my life sharply into perspective.
I have always had the odd day where I would wake up and for no apparent reason be unable to do even the most basic of tasks, instead choosing to wallow in bed and avoid contact with the outside world. However, over the past few years this has gone from a couple of days every few months to four or five every month and after the HIV scare this escalated even further. Everyone gets sad, upset and even irrationally emotional at times but depression takes you to a dark place within your mind that for many years I refused to accept existed.
Contemplating suicide, self-harm and self-sabotage have been an uncomfortably common part of my life for more than 18 months now and the only reason these thoughts haven’t been acted on is because I have seen first-hand the impact that mental illness can have on friends and family. I’ve been lucky to have people in my life who even when I didn’t know what was wrong knew exactly what to tell me.
The strangest thing about my doctor telling me I have depression is that it actually came as a massive relief, it lifted a weight off my shoulders. It’s funny how much easier it is to fight adversity when it has a name. Suddenly it was no longer a dark, nameless wave that could take me out for days on end instead it was there staring me straight in the eye, and for the first time I knew I could fight it.
After telling friends and family I knew that I only had one option, I had to identify the parts of my life that were not where I wanted them to be and change them. The transition from talking the talk to walking the walk is one that is still very much a work in progress, but that’s life.
A week after being diagnosed I quit my job, went back home for some TLC and booked a 6-week trip to Japan. I picked up a pen for the first time in years and began writing again. I still have at least one day a week where I feel like ending it all, the difference now is that instead of trying to ignore it I am trying to fight it.
One of the main things bringing me down for years now has been trying to date in a city and a community that on the surface seems to be obsessed with sex and appearance. For the longest time I would go on dates and meet guys because I thought I needed someone else to help me, I thought that without having my ‘other half’ I would always be incomplete. That couldn’t be further from the truth, for the first time since I came out I can honestly say that I am happily single. I can concentrate on me, focus on getting better and embrace all the amazing things that life throws at me.
I guess this is my very long-winded and somewhat macabre way of welcoming you to my blog and I hope that if nothing I have said helps you in any way then at least it made you smile.
See you soon…