How depression has affected me
My illness came in the form of chronic fatigue which meant that I struggled to do anything physical, which included anything other than getting up in the morning and getting to school, and that was hard enough as I would often have to leave after lunch due to exhaustion.
Impact on friendships
Soon this began to impact on my friendships and many couldn’t understand that I wasn’t being lazy and it wasn’t due to a lack of sleep – some people even thought that I was putting it on. This made me realise who I could really count on.
Around a month after it began I realised that it wasn’t going to go away quickly and so slowly my moods dropped. Around 3 months later I was still in the worst of it, and although my parents had asked me whether I thought I was depressed, I was in denial.
Finally realised I had depression
However one day I woke up and couldn’t feel any emotion, not happy or sad and the things that would have normally given a guaranteed feeling, positive or negative, gave me nothing. It was then that I realised something was definitely wrong, and began to look at what it could be, settling that it was depression quite soon afterwards.
Lonely and misreading things
During the worst of my depression I felt numb, and alone. I misread a lot of signs from people, thinking they were acting in a different way when it was me interpreting it that way.
Tired and struggling to concentrate
I was very tired, and had a very limited drive and motivation to do anything that required any energy. As a student it meant that I couldn’t do work to the same level because my concentration was hugely reduced, and I missed lessons because of exhaustion.
Hardest thing is the doubting of yourself
The hardest thing about depression is the doubting, at the beginning you know how you felt before and so you trust those instincts, but then you begin to doubt what you knew was true. Relationships became that much harder and things were just tough, more than anyone else can understand unless they’ve been there.
Still have to keep an eye on things
From its beginning until end my illness lasted around 2 years with my depression lasting around 18 months of that, and I still have to keep an eye on what I’m doing, so that I don’t let myself fall back to how I was.
Had a huge impact on my education
Subsequently once I was past my depression and illness I had to work very hard to get to where I wanted to be, because my education had been so affected.
Overstretched and overtired
In hindsight I was doing too much and some other events that had happened caused me to be overtired, and I think my body got to a point where it just needed to rest even though I didn’t want to.
Bottling things up and pushing people away
The depression came from holding things inside and pushing people away, and then feeling alone having to deal with being ill.
Recognising and accepting it was depression
The first step was to recognise what I had, and that it was ok. It was still a while after realising I had depression before I took any action to get help, believing that I could use self-help techniques to get myself through it – they did help, but there was more to my depression than I realised.
Eventually I went to a counsellor who began to help me work things through. Whether anything we talked about over the year I was there helped, I can’t say, but it was an overall positive experience – it helped me to think through lots of the small seemingly insignificant things that happened in my life and realise that a lot of them were being held in and it was good to let them out.
Counselling helped me through a lot, clearly you cannot quantify it but that along with a few amazing friends, really helped me to work at pulling myself out of it.
Doing things and getting out
I found doing practical things helped, just getting out as much as I could. Little things like creating a scrapbook was something that I could put positive energy into.
Finding low-effort enjoyable activity
I had depression alongside chronic fatigue which meant a difficult balancing act of working out how tired I would be because of the simplest things, so being able to do things that I enjoyed that required little effort was helpful.
Noting the positives in the day
Another small technique that I followed for a while was to create a wall chart with the 7 days on it, and each day I would write 2 things that were good about the day on a post-it-note, this helped me to make sure that I went to bed feeling positive.
Continuing to monitor myself
I’ve learnt that I need to monitor how I feel and what I do, and keep those positive thought processes up, to make sure that I don’t fall back into a similar state to how I was before.
What I’ve learnt
Counselling is for anyone, not just a certain ‘type’
Going to a counsellor for the first time felt odd because I had never seen myself as being the ‘type’ of person who would, but I realised that there is no ‘type’ and that everyone has their own issues.
It’s how you react that matters
I’ve learnt that depression isn’t the end of your life, and that it shouldn’t hold you back. Overall I’ve learnt that sometimes these things happen, and you won’t necessarily see it coming, but when it does it’s how you react to it that matters.