The Climb; My personal journey with depression; introduction
introduction to my journey with depression; what it is my type, my symptoms and my first step to the climb.
Hello everyone and welcome to my personal story of my journey with depression and the steps it has taken for me to climb out of the darkness and negativity and into a place of renewed hope and positivity.
The aim is to try and let those who are struggling with mental health know that firstly, you are not alone!, and secondly, that there is a light at the end of a very dark and lonely place, and with some hard work and climbing up that tunnel; by taking a few steps, things can be turned around and depression can be controlled and managed in positive ways, even if you might not see it or feel it right now.
I hope by reading my story you will be inspired to try a few of my steps to start you off on your own climb, after all what have you got to lose? or more positively, what could you gain; right?
The dictionary defines depression as "a type of mental illness that causes long periods of unhappiness...", (dictionary definition as quoted by google). which is somewhat true but, in my opinion, very generic in its definition. There are several types of depression and many causes, and conditions of which depression can be a symptom, but for the purpose of this article and in relation to my own personal climb I will be talking about my experience with circumstantial depression; that is literally depression that has transpired because of events, situations and/or circumstances; or more specifically a "response to negative life experiences", (Psychologists description as quoted by google search). This is a pretty accurate description of the way my depression manifested itself and continued to manifest itself over many years.
I didn’t understand it at the time or recognise my type of depression as its foundations were built in very subtle and slow ways, but looking back I can see how, where and when it started. I recognised that it wasn’t just one thing in particular but a compilation of things that built up to an emotional and mental tsunami of overwhelming thoughts and feelings that became too heavy to carry and hold; that was my response to all the negative life experiences I had encountered from childhood right up until my early forties.
Negative life experiences in my case includes bullying, both verbal and physical, inflicted all the way through primary and secondary school, in the work place and even in my thirties when I attended university from adults that was supposed to be wanting to join the education system as teachers; being judged and criticised and not taken seriously as a young teenage mum, being humiliated and put down in private and public, being in a physically and verbally abusive relationship, watching my children suffer a traumatic event and being let down by a system that was built to help parents and children who struggle and not just feeling like a failure as a mother but also made to look like one by people whose job it was not to judge.
That alongside being rejected by family members, family break-ups and of course grieving for family members who have passed on. well, it all had taken its toll; no surprise that all these circumstances led to feelings of being worthless, hopeless and helpless, angry, hurt, defensive, but I was a fighter, I was stronger than those emotions, I wasn’t going to sit and cry like a baby and feel sorry for myself, I had to keep it all together and show people I wasn’t to be messed with and I could handle my business without any help from anyone; or so I kept telling myself. Does any of that talk of self-denial sound familiar? It was Charles Bradlaugh, a 19th century politician that once said, "denial slays the life of the people and entombs the hope of the race" and Larry L. King, 20th century author and playwright described denial as being "the number one aspect of medicine. That’s why people don't get check-ups". denial of having depression certainly brings them words to truth even if said in a different context.
I experienced symptoms well before my breakdown. I knew I was struggling, I was exhausted mentally and physically, I was stressed all the time, everyday there was something to fight for or against, and it just kept coming like those balls that are released from tennis practice ball machines, one hit after another, but I forced myself to keep going, after all if I didn’t fight for myself or my children who else would? I didn’t have time to play victim especially when I didn't see myself as one. Again more self-denial talk. Below are just some of the symptoms I went through, some I managed to hide, some I didn't, but all of which I didn't acknowledge until I had my breakdown.
- Constant feeling of not being good enough
- Quick changes of mood
- Emotionally unpredictable, e.g. crying, easily upset
- Anxiety especially around or dealing with other people
- Changes in appetite, either comfort eating or not eating at all
- Changes in sleep patterns: insomnia
- Feelings of fatigue and weariness
- Losing interest in things,
- Isolation; not wanting to see or speak to anyone.
- Lack of self-care; staying in bed; not getting dressed etc
- Feeling that the world would be better off without you in it and no one cares.
- Feeling lost and empty
I am not a doctor or a professional, but some people may experience similar symptoms, or not so well-known. You may have all, or some of the above mentioned that I personally went through, so at this point I just want to say do your own research on the symptoms of depression and if you relate to any, some or even all of the symptoms in yourself or someone you know, then please talk about it with the person you know, or if its yourself please go to your GP or someone you trust. Take that all important first step of the climb.
The step I have called the Triple A step because for me I had to Acknowledge there was something wrong, Accept I had a mental illness and Admit I needed help; and if you’re as stubborn and independent as I was then you'll understand how this triple A step was the hardest step to take; it is the hardest step for anyone to take but also the most courageous and brave step anyone will ever take and one that could save a life, it certainly saved mine. I will explain my journey through this first step in more detail in the next article, in the meantime I want to say thank you for reading, remember I am not an expert this is just my personal experience, but I hope my story helps someone start their own climb.