How depression has affected me
Depression ruling my life
Where do I begin? Depression has been ruling my life on and off for so many years, making me feel sad, lonely, and isolated, but worst of all useless, and a failure.
Didn’t realise it
My life hasn’t been the easiest but I am not the type of person to moan about things. I was taught as a child to “pick your self up and move on”. Now looking back over the years I realise that I have been suffering from depression on and off for over ten years.
Imagining just driving away from it all
I have never experienced any suicidal thoughts but often had the feeling that I could drive down the motorway and get away from everything.
Father’s suicide and sudden move
My dad committed suicide when I was thirteen years old, and this had a drastic impact on my life – almost immediately we were moved to a different area, with different people. I felt as if we had left the past behind and was never to mention about it ever again! I was told this was a fresh start and a fresh start it sure was.
Pregnancy at 16
I went from being a nice quiet girl to becoming a little wild, looking for someone to love. Being young and naive I fell for the first person who was available. This resulted in a pregnancy at the age of sixteen, which at the time felt a disaster and as if the end of the world had come all over again.
Unsurprisingly the relationship with the baby’s father did not work out, making things harder and putting exceptional pressures on my life. If it wasn’t for my mother helping me out I don’t think I would’ve been able to cope with everything, but being the fighter as I am struggled along and then gave birth to a fabulous baby girl.
After about 6 weeks of having the baby I again started to feel lonely, totally fed up with life, although never considered committing suicide as I know how this can hurt all your family and friends, and would never put them through that again. For months my moods were low, the feeling was awful. I could not talk to anyone (didn’t want to be a burden) and felt a massive let down.
I eventually found the man of my dreams, as I thought, but during the first year of my marriage he became extremely abusive and controlling, often calling me names making sure that I felt worthless and unattractive.
Anxiety and agoraphobia
I would not leave the house, even on times was too frightened to answer the door, but still I would not leave this man go. I felt that this relationship was the best I was going to get and then I felt so afraid of being on my own, and did not want to fail at this marriage like I thought I had failed at everything else.
Health visitor must have noticed
After the birth of my second child the health visitor came to visit me and she must have noticed that something wasn’t right in my life, so she suggested that I joined a local Sure Start group to help me make friends and get me out of the house. With weeks of persuading me I eventually decided to give it a go (only just to shut the health visitor up).
Gathering courage to go to Sure Start group
I remember the first day visiting Sure Start, I didn’t sleep at all the night before, felt as if people would be looking down at me, staring at me – my heart felt as if it was in my throat. I managed to get myself dressed up and went along to the club, and that was the beginning of turning things around…
Now I am feeling well and back to normality – if there is such a thing – I can reflect on the experiences which I encountered as a child and throughout my life…
Effect of father’s suicide
When my father committed suicide, my sister found him lying there with blood all around him and it really affected us as a family. Not only did I lose my father, but my mother then decided that she could not cope living in an area where everyone recognised us.
So we moved to a different location for a ‘fresh start’, hence losing my friends and feeling very isolated. I felt as if we had left the past behind and was never to mention about it ever again!
Unfortunately due to the different environment I could not face up to what my father had done and somehow blocked him out of my head. I kept on having nightmares that he was still alive, waking up and thinking to myself perhaps everyone is lying to me. It seems silly now I look back, but then it was so real.
Looking for love
I’ve already described how this led to me becoming a bit wild, and looking for love, leading to the pregnancy. Although it was very hard, and made me feel a failure, it was also a blessing as it made me feel like I had someone to look after.
Wanting a sense of belonging
Depressed after my daughter’s birth, and again feeling negative and lonely, I hooked up with the first man that came along, hoping to find love and happiness, and I suppose a sense of belonging.
Dependence on abusive husband
I totally became reliant on my husband, and thought he was the best person in the world. But within six months the relationship turned – he became abusive, nasty and I suppose totally in control of me and my life.
Isolated and bottling things up
First of all I just hoped that things would go back to normal, and that all the arguments and fighting would go away, but as years went by I just got used to it, living my life totally isolated, bottling things up, and putting things to the back of my mind.
Finding the courage to go to Sure Start
When I finally managed to get myself to the Sure Start group, to my surprise the mothers at the club was so friendly. It was nice to pop my children in the crèche and have some quality time with people of my own age.
This helped me make friends and gain confidence in myself. This made me feel human again, even though in the beginning I was dead against going out and making friends – thought it was a waste of time.
The health visitor advised me to get a little job and pointed me in the right direction for training etc. As the weeks went by I started gaining confidence and even managed to participate in different courses.
Started work and depression lifted
Surprisingly enough my depression and negative feelings were slowly drifting away. Eventually I started work and built up loads of confidence. My moods were lifted and the cloud had gone from over my head.
Avoided medication but had acupuncture
As for medication, I have always been afraid of taking any due to bad press etc, and also as a cultural thing – I believed that you had to fight the depression yourself like mind over matter, which is obviously a load of rubbish… I did have regular acupuncture for the depression and this appeared to work, although it could have been the placebo effect, who knows?
Talking to others
I was doing things for myself and enjoying them. I wanted a different life and wanted to do something for myself and my children. I even managed to talk to other people about the difficulties that I was experiencing in my life.
Ending the abusive relationship
This helped me – it gave me the confidence to pluck up the courage and finish the relationship with my partner and move on.
Positive thoughts, goals and friends
Now I was at a time in my life where I had no partner – a single parent, living in a little rented house, but I can honestly say I have never been so happy in all my life. I had so many positive thoughts in my head instead of emptiness and negativity. I had goals in my life that I wanted to achieve, plenty of friends who I could confide with.
Engaging with life
I would be lying if I said life was a bed of roses, but at least I felt like living instead of just curling up in my bed each day and sleeping.
Dealing with relapse
My life was going fine and I remarried a lovely man. Everything appeared to be perfect and then I started to feel ill again, with so many negative thoughts, but this time I had learnt not to bottle things up…
Now four years on from that first Sure Start meeting I have managed to enrol in university taking a degree and looking forward to the rest of my life… Yes I do get my bad days still, but now I manage to look at the positive things in my life rather than just feeling the negatives, and to accept the bad days as well as the good.
What I’ve learnt
Depression is an illness that can be cured
I have wasted so much time throughout my life feeling depressed, not addressing any problems that I may have encountered. I don’t want people to suffer like I have and would like to advise people that depression is an illness which can be cured.
Don’t bottle things up
People must not feel alone, they must talk. Do not bottle things up inside as the problems will never go away – they will slowly take control of you and your life.
Do not suffer in silence – seek medical attention, talk to friends and family who you can trust, face up to your past whatever has gone on.
Definitely always remember to TALK! The more you talk about things the easier it will get. Even seek counselling or therapy, but don’t give up.
If I can do it anyone can
I feel that I have beaten depression but only wish that I’d asked for help and advice so many years ago, but luckily it appears to have gone now and my life is on the up. I just want to get the message through to people who have depression that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if I can do it anyone can.