I’ve haven’t been online all day so I have only just realised it is World Mental Health day and this calls for a double post day!
This year’s theme is depression, which is perfect timing for me!
From the World Health Organisation:
“World Mental Health Day raises public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is “Depression: A Global Crisis”.
Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.”
Maybe it’s the times we live in or that it is just becoming more well known as people are now seeking help, but it does seem depression affects more and more people, including myself. It is a lonely illness that can affect anyone. It can be hard to talk about, especially if from the outside it looks like everything is going right for you. Up until last week I would have called myself a functioning depressive. I could cope with pretty much everything, then fall apart privately. Everyone has a breaking point and I have just reached mine. Even after 18 months of being treated for depression I slipped lower than I can remember. Maybe I felt worse at the beginning, but when you’ve been feeling low for so long it is hard to baseline. Perhaps its been harder this time because I thought I had been recovering really well and so was unprepared for a dip. I’ve read that the hardest part of depression is recovery because it’s not linear. This makes it harder I think.
I’ve been extremely lucky to live in an area that has access to a psychology department with local counsellors. They run a series of group courses and one-to-one sessions, as well as offering a number of online tools to help. However, even with all that is offered, it is not enough. I am now on a waiting list to get more in-depth personal help. I am considering getting private help, but that is a minefield in its own right. It is sad that these kind of resources are not available to everyone.
I wanted to provide some links to websites I have found extremely useful
It is about finding the right support for your personal journey and a big thing for me is reading. I love to read and learn and this helps me focus. I struggle with talking and need extra help with that from professionals (my friends and family are great but often they are too solution focused and I just need someone to listen and help me make sense of my thoughts). Exercise is another key part of my lifestyle that helps. This combined with eating a nutritious diet makes a big difference, but is the hardest part for me as I use food as coping mechanism. Journalling and meditation have been other things I have tried with mixed success (I have to be in the right frame of mind to so these). Overall though I think becoming more aware of my thoughts has been very important and this forms the basis of CBT.
I know what it is like to feel alone, hopeless and afraid. It’s where I currently am, but I want to get better, so I asked for more help. I still remember the day I went to the doctors not knowing what was wrong just feeling awful and coming out scared but relieved. My world was thrown upside down, but it also came together. I’m hard on my myself and I think part of my slip has been that I thought I would be better by now, but I’m not. It’s okay that I’m not better. There is nothing wrong with being depressed for weeks, months or years. I now realise why the doctors don;t give you a timeframe for getting better – they don’t know and everyone is different. But getting help is the same – you have to ask for it. It is unlikely that anyone will notice you have depressive illness – I wore/wear my mask well as I’m sure many of you do – so you have to look after yourself. It’s okay to look after yourself fully – even I have to remind myself of that.
I want to help raise awareness and get rid of the stigma attached to depression and I’m going to do that through sharing my experiences on my blog.