Nobody consciously chooses depression. Nobody wakes up and thinks, “I know what might be fun… feeling afraid to go out”. Nobody wants to be the one amongst their friends with a long list of reasons as to why they can’t do something, the one that is always cancelling at the last minute and the one that feels sick every time the phone rings because they haven’t had time to think of a decent excuse yet. Nobody wants to live in the constant fear of the uncertainty the future holds. Nobody wants to feel so painfully lonely, but at the same time dread company because you’ve forgotten how to function with others but that was what my depression felt like.
I was consumed with worrying thoughts that people didn’t like me. In reality the problem I had was that I didn’t like me. Every negative thought was a step away from who I was. I had turned against myself and slowly spiralled downwards until I was in a hole that seemed too deep to climb out of. Of course I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. I wore my smile as often as I could, but the mask slipped more and more and flashes of anger and sadness came through.
I didn’t want to feel that way, but equally I didn’t know how not to. Those feelings had become normal and it was just part of who I was. I wasn’t confident, I was over-emotional, I was volatile, but that was me and I just needed to live with it and try to soldier on. I decided I just needed to try harder to control these emotions, to get on with it and get out there into the world, to function when I couldn’t think of anything more impossible.
But as time would reveal, when anxiety and depression take hold of you it’s not as simple as just deciding you’re not going to be feeling that way anymore and flicking a switch. For me, it took medication.
My symptoms included hot flashes of panic, a feeling like the walls were closing in, intense feelings of nausea and convincing myself I had untold numbers of medical conditions. I couldn’t think straight and the problem had become very real indeed. My mind was scrambled and no amount of positive thinking was going to change that.
The first step, the hardest step, was recognising the fact that I was ill. It felt like a failure, like admitting defeat and realising I couldn’t cope with life and it was horrible – but that was the illness speaking.
I struggled with the idea of taking the tablets, feeling somehow as if I’d failed, but I also knew that I couldn’t carry on in my current state and so I took the tablets and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the best decision I’ve ever made – but that’s a story for another day.