Depression and mental illness have formed the backdrop to my life and I know I am not alone in this. This month marks two years since I ended up swimming in the darkness again and went to ask for help. It was when I had locked myself in the bathroom and couldn’t see the point in getting up off the floor or even continuing to breathe, that I knew it was time and I knew this because it was not the first time.
According to the diagnostic terminology, depression manifests in a range of symptoms including diminished interest in everyday life, fluctuations in weight, altered sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness, a lack of energy, the inability to concentrate and having recurring thoughts about death and dying.
According to my own terminology, depression equals emptiness. Depression is when I retreat so far inside my box that I don’t know how to make it out of there. It is a weight to be carried, a weight that presses down onto me and seems to push all energy out of my body until I am in a state of inertia.
Today, with two years of mainly good days and a handful of bad days behind me in recovery, I would love to share some truths that continue to be a source of comfort and support to me, just in case they can help someone else.
- Talk to someone
If you are feeling low, it really helps to talk about it. Talk to your partner, sibling or parent and tell them how you feel. Talk to a doctor, a trusted friend, a colleague or a counsellor . Remember that thoughts often have less power once we articulate them.
- Treat yourself with kindness and compassion
You need and deserve love and care so give yourself that gift. Remember that you are wonderful just the way you are x
- Recognise that mental illness is not a form of weakness
You are stronger than you believe yourself to be and there is no shame in admitting that you need help. I am proud of how hard I have fought against mental illness and I see it as a badge of honour. If you have shared this struggle, never doubt your strength because you are, in fact, a warrior.
- Keep moving
On a practical level it is important to keep active so make sure you get out of bed. Take a walk. It is also important to try and keep your thoughts moving so your mind does not get stuck, so read, watch inspiring films or short video clips. Look at pictures that make you feel uplifted, or think about places you would like to go in the future and daydream.
- Treat yourself
Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, shopping, food or any other drug of choice. Focus instead on treating yourself in ways that are helpful rather than harmful. Take a nice hot bath, visit a place you love or do something that makes your heart sing.
Wherever you are on your journey, I wish you peace.
Please know that you are not alone and that things can and will get better.
If you would like any further information or need support right now – check out the links below to learn more and access help.
Lots of love x