How depression has affected me

Fluctuating intensity

My experience with depression and low mood has taken place over the last two years, with intense periods, and periods when I could almost forget about the negative thoughts it brought with it.

“What’s the point?”

How I’d describe my own personal experience with depression is that it made me think, “what’s the point?” about nearly everything. It made me over think even the smallest of things, and took the interest and satisfaction out of everything I used to enjoy.

Pessimism

I remember not being able to remember the last time I felt truly optimistic or happy, even if things didn’t seem too bad I always would expect the worse or make a problem for myself out of something.

Impact on work

As a student I struggled to get out of bed, stopped attending lectures for ages, and even if I did attend I found myself sitting there just staring blankly, not taking anything in as could only think, “What’s the point?”

Social impact

Also my depression had a big impact on me socially. I’ve always been a more quiet person but I found myself going entire days without saying more than a few words to my friends when we were all together, and if I did say anything it was usually negative which really started to frustrate me. I just seemed to be in my own little world all the time.

High anxiety

I developed a high amount of anxiety which I still am dealing with today, which meant I would constantly worry about things and sometimes feel extremely uncomfortable in some of the simplest social situations which led to embarrassing sweats and shakes when having to participate in work such as presentations.

Frightened by suicidal thoughts

Only once did I ever experience suicidal thinking when I had a breakdown in the middle of a job interview last year for what felt like no apparent reason, and when these thoughts entered my head that’s when I felt most scared that I wasn’t acting myself.

Slow down

For me, depression definitely comes in intense waves, and when it hits the best way to describe it is I slow down. I struggle to get out of bed, lose motivation and purpose, and spend most my time complaining about it.

Frustration

The main feeling it gives me now is frustration, as I’m sick of having no optimism in my life and would just like to be happy and carefree again like I used to be what feels like such a long time ago.

Why me?

Initially had no idea why

When I first started with my depression I had no idea why I was feeling the way I did and it didn’t just frustrate me – when it started to get worse it began to scare me. But I believe now that I know some of the pressures that may have led to it, or at least had an influence on how I felt.

Triggered by a bad break-up

One factor was a bad break-up with my girlfriend of two years. I know now it’s not a big deal but at the time this was the thing that pushed me to have a break-down, and I’d say during this period it was the worst point in my depression, as my thoughts started to become more dangerous and on the verge of suicidal thinking, which scared me.

Probably family factors too

I have had a great upbringing, but I believe my family is not very close at all, and I think this may have been a factor making me susceptible to depression. I may have some ideas of why I have depression, but I hope to explore the roots more with my recent decision to start counselling.

What’s helped

Having someone to listen

What I found most helpful would definitely be having a close friend or family member who truly listens. This helped me in getting  through those hard times, someone who isn’t just going to say’ “Cheer up! It’s not the end of the world!”, but someone who appreciates it’s not that simple for you as much as you wish it could be.

Counselling

It took me a long time to consider counselling as I tend to try solve things myself, but I must admit it was definitely a good decision. The hardest step was booking the appointment, but once I had gone to it I felt so much better like I had taken a step forward to moving on from this state of mind.

Exercise

I would also definitely suggest exercise as from what I’ve learnt from reading about sport psychology and from my own experience, it’s a brilliant way to lift the mood, self-esteem and generally get you more active, and it had the bonus of being physically healthy too. For me even after a 20 minute session of some weights and press-ups/sit-ups I would feel a lot better and would find I usually had a good day.

Mindfulness

Also another technique which I have found to be effective at times is mindfulness meditation, which I attended a workshop about. At first I thought it sounded silly but if you ever just need a moment of calm to get your head together I found the breathing exercises used in this were sometimes helpful if you had a moment to yourself, especially with the stresses of assignments and exams.

What I’ve learnt

Everyone’s experience is different

What I’ve learnt through all of this is that everyone’s experience is different and unique to them, and this makes it difficult to feel like any support will understand and be able to help you cope.

Take the step towards help

But I think the most important thing is realising if you really want to start feeling better then you need to take that step and try to help yourself or get help from others. Once you manage to start trying then that’s really that’s first step to feeling better; knowing that you want to get out of this depression and having the motivation and courage to try do something about it.

Focus on the positives

Life’s full of things which may make you think what’s the point, but that doesn’t mean you have to fixate on them and ignore the positives. As small as they may be sometimes, they’re the things that matter and the more you ignore them the more you will believe they’re not there at all.

Related

Managing anxiety & anger
Depression & the meaning of life
Practising mindfulness