How depression has affected me

Long term low mood

I’ve been suffering with depression for a number of years now. I have a lot of issues – social phobia, low self esteem and a lack of identity – and being put in situations where I am forced to face these problems often sends me into a bout of depression of varying strength, sometime lasting a few moments, sometimes lasting days or weeks.

Depression

It became serious around three to five years ago when I looked into sleep treatment. It was affecting my life and my studies. I approached a college counsellor and was eventually out on anti-depressants for a period of months.

Anxiety and procrastination

I was procrastinating a lot and I was too worried about my forthcoming exams to be able to study for them. The problem seemed immeasurably large and I couldn´t focus on solving it and so I just needed some help to get over that initial burden and to help me to focus on my exams.

Avoidance

My low mood makes handling problems I may face just so much harder. Instead of tackling them I will be more inclined to ignore them, not in a hoping they will go away sense, because its clear they won’t, but in a “I can’t deal with it at the moment” sense.

Missing out

I seem to constantly miss out on everyday things, such as relationships, making new friends, and so on. I seem willing to give up a lot and almost just lay there letting life pass me by. I hate it, but it can be hard to shake free from that at times.

Disappointment

But most of the time when I try to think about ways to move forward I just get more depressed, often by disappointing myself after moments of hope that things will work out this time, when they usually don’t.

Social phobia

One likely root of my depression is a lack of self confidence and an increasing anxiety around unfamiliar people, surroundings or in situations I am not comfortable with. I just feel so uncomfortable when I am out socially with other people, so I tend to avoid it.

Low self esteem

I don´t make friends easily; in most cases we were introduced or they introduced themselves to me. I am not against making friends; I just don´t initiate contact. A lot of the time, I feel I have nothing to offer, so I just sit there. I have very low self-esteem.

Suicidal thoughts

I’ve contemplated suicide several times, mostly through despair of not expecting to be able to pull myself free of the situation I have gotten myself into, that there is no escape.

Almost attempted suicide

I thought of seriously attempting it once several years ago, but never went through with it. I had a falling out with my parents and barricaded myself in my room and contemplated slicing my wrists. I had the knife, but I couldn´t do it.

No real improvement

I’ve been seeing counsellors on and off during my time in further education. I think each case has been a positive experience, but after college I let myself go again, and depression returns whenever I begin to contemplate myself or my situation again.

Stuck

I tend to contemplate myself and my situation on and off, but never really move forward or actually go beyond the current situation. I always seem to be stuck facing the exact same problems I was the last year and the year before that. Nothing has really improved and all of my `issues´ still remain for me to face.

Why me?

Long term depression

It would be hard to think of a time when I didn´t have depression. I´ve probably had it for the majority of my life, going back to childhood, and not realised it.

Childhood

It´s hard to remember that far back but I have always felt absent; as though there was something missing. It was like a lack of direction. I felt like I was kind of observing life rather than getting on with it and I didn´t know which way to go.

Black sheep

I´ve always been a bit different to others in my family, and approached things differently, so I think I´ve always felt like the black sheep. My brothers were always accepted more, which was upsetting.

Family problems

I have had a lot of family problems. At one point I was thrown out of the family home. We had some major arguments. They were unhappy about my gender issues, but also about financial problems, around me being unemployed at the time.

Financial issues

Money, or the absence of it, has always been a big thing within the household; particularly the extended household. It has added pressure and stress to the family. I wasn´t working for a period and so there was anger and animosity and frustration.

Gender dysphoria

I had suddenly become gender dysphoric at the time and my family didn´t agree with it. It is a gender identity condition, where you don´t know what gender you are. I felt strongly at the time that I was a woman stuck in a man´s body, and that was the explanation for what had been holding me back.

No diagnosis

I have been through a psychiatric assessment for it, but I was unable to be diagnosed because I have other issues that need resolving first, like anxiety and social phobia, which make it harder to form an accurate diagnosis.

Still unresolved

The gender identity dysphoria may or may not be at the root of my depression. I´ve stopped thinking about it. I´ve put it on hold; it used to depress me too much so I am just putting it on a shelf.

No relationships

I feel very uncomfortable with myself not knowing who I am and so I haven´t looked to establish any relationships, which is also quite depressing. I´d like to have a relationship, but I feel I need to understand myself more, or be in a position where I am more comfortable with myself.

What´s helped

Counselling

Initially I found talking about my problems helped a lot, especially when I first started seeing counselling. I was almost crying at times and being out of my current situation and just being able to let it all out for an hour or so was really helpful and uplifting.

Relieving stress and tension

We had weekly sessions, mostly just talking which seemed to help more than it has done since. Talking about things and bringing problems into the open seemed to relieve stress and tension and almost get rid of the problems, at least initially. It allowed me to focus on studying away from those sessions, rather than dwelling on the problems.

Further counselling less helpful

I have seen quite a few counsellors over the years, and there comes a point where you are saying the same things over and over, but you are not progressing because what you really need is advice, or wisdom or something and you don´t usually get it.

Different kinds of counselling

It can depend on the relationship you have with your counsellor and the length of time you have with them. Some are more open to offering you advice, but in my experience, most feel that they are in more of a listening position. This can be helpful, but it is more of a short term thing.

Needing concrete advice

I still have the problems in my head. You can feel alone sometimes even with a counsellor – I think it is not knowing what to do; not knowing how to solve the problem, or being capable of what you think you should be capable of.

Medication

I was also prescribed anti-depressants during that phase of help and they seemed to really help. The combination of anti-depressants and my counsellor got me through college, but it wasn’t long after where things started to fall apart again.

Talking with friends

Surrounding myself with people who know me better and people I can communicate with has helped me a lot. Nothing cheers me up better then a loving hug from someone I care about. Sadly I seem to have asked the same people for the same advice too many times and after not following it for so long have burnt some bridges.

Having obtainable goals

Having obtainable goals has helped, particularly ones who will make my life better in the future. Passing the first year of my current degree, for example, and I am developing my own website.

Distraction

The most effective coping mechanism I have found so far is to pick up something I am interested in and really throw myself into it. It allows me to forget my depression in a way that other things, even talking with friends or counsellors have not.

Concern about addiction

At the moment my passion is online gaming, but I have a friend in America who says I am addicted and I need to get out more because that is my only outlet. He says I am too obsessed because I sleep, play and then go back to bed. I derive enjoyment from that but he´s made me aware that I need something else.

Belonging to a group

It feels nice to feel I identify with a group. I´ve started communicating rather frequently on a particular forum on the internet, linked with the game I play, and it feels good to communicate and feel part of a group. I think there´s some benefit there.

Hoping to move forward

I have really struggled with depression in the past, and in all honestly I haven’t really dealt with it. I am hoping that blogging about it will show me a progression of thought, provide a record of things I can refer back to, and may highlight some errors in my thinking that have been holding me back up to now.

Need more info

I think I need some ideas and information about several things – gender specific stuff, motivation, and possibly also bi-polar issues – I did get huge mood swings between euphoria and deep depression at one stage.

Aiming for a more balanced approach

More generally, I need to find things to help me maintain a positive, happier outlook day by day. I achieve that at the moment just by being game obsessed but it´s not particularly healthy so I need a more rounded approach to maintaining a positive life.

Need to understand myself better

Hopefully the blogging will give me a fuller understanding of what I believe is holding me back and the inspiration to help me progress and look under stones that I rarely get beyond.

What I´ve learnt

Think about how to get support from friends

Often it can be helpful just to let your friends know you´re feeling down, but I would advise people who are suffering with depression to seek a counsellor first and then discuss things when they start to feel a bit less down with friends.

Be careful when seeking advice

The deeper conversations – asking for advice you may not be able to follow – can often make things worse if you´re not careful, which just piles on the pressure, stress and makes any depression worse.

Find a hobby you care about

If nothing else is working, then finding something like a hobby to obsess about at least can `buy you some time´ and give you a bit of a break from trying to resolve your problems. The problem is of course when you do return to a downer.

Related

Anxiety & anger
Making sense of suicide
What is counselling?