Working through life’s challenges can be exceptionally hard especially when there is still so much stigma about mental health issues. Finding happiness again is my new blog series looking at coping mechanisms that people use to work through their dark times and find happiness again. Specifically today’s is about coping mechanisms for depression.
This week’s guest blogger is Pippa who blogs over at www.phigella.com about her family, pets, her health issues and anything else that takes her fancy. In this guest blog post she throws a spotlight on depression and her coping mechanisms for depression. Hopefully this post will help raise awareness on depression and help any of you who are currently suffering.
Depression. This can be a tricky topic to talk about because, even today, people seem to think that depression means you just feel a bit down or upset, yes that is part of it, but anyone can feel down or upset, depression is an entirely different beast and does need to be treated by medical professionals.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 15, 22 years ago! Oh, My Word, that makes me feel really old. I didn’t really take my diagnosis seriously then, like a lot of others I felt that I should be able to cheer up and get over it, but depression doesn’t work like that.
“Depression eats away at you, devours your self esteem and confidence. It makes you feel like the worst version of yourself, someone who isn’t worthy to breath never mind anything else.“
I went to counselling from the age of 16 until I was 17 but I refused to take medication. I had an idea that I would become a shell, something unable to feel anything, the reality is I was unable to feel things because I was depressed.
“The world is very black and white with depression, there is no colour, no grey, no in-between just black or white, one or the other.“
You can’t see beyond what’s in front of you, thinking about something tomorrow or the day after just doesn’t happen it’s like coming to a crossroad and seeing only left or right, there is no straight on, you can’t see it.
Over the years I was able to hide my depression and hide it well. It was on the pretence that I was managing it, pfft, I was managing nothing, I was just ignoring it and hoping it would go away and I was like that for 20 years. I needed to develop coping mechanisms for depression but I didn’t have any yet.
I did have further counselling on and off over those 20 years and each time I would feel great when I finished my allotted 6 sessions and within a month I’d be right back where I started because I wasn’t learning to manage my health, I was learning to appear better for the medical professionals and my family.
Part of the reason for this pretense is the depression itself. I find it very difficult to tell people that I’m struggling and need help. A part of me thinks I should just be able to cope, all these other people can cope so why can’t I? The other part of it was thinking about people who had or have worse health issue than me, why am I using up resources when I should be able to manage this?
Well 2 years ago I had a total breakdown of my mental health and I had no idea.I thought it was everything and everyone else who had a problem or was taking things the wrong way.
“I hated everything about life, everything. I hated my job, my husband, my family, but most of all myself. “
After screaming at my boss one day and breaking down completely I finally went to see my GP and got help. They put me on medication and again referred me for counselling and to a psychiatrist. This time I took the medication and after my visit to psychiatry was diagnosed with depression and stress sensitivity, basically, stress sensitivity is a chemical imbalance, the part of your brain that can cope with stress shrinks due to trauma and your brain just can’t cope with more than one stress at a time. I also have a problem with taking on too much, I just say yes to everything and then panic about it, saying no makes my insides crawl.
After this round of counselling I have a much better sense of my depression and other mental health issues and I also have the tools to actually manage them and I do manage them. I have bad days and I have good days. But I have established coping mechanisms for depression which is helping me face this battle.
• Finding a routine
• Establishing a balanced diet and exercise
• Seeking help
• Talking to others about your depression
One of the best things which has helped me to keep feeling well is routine, I am a control freak anyway but having a routine helps to keep my brain in check and allows me to feel in control. That said, I’ve also had to learn how to let my routine slip to allow for life to happen, not everything can happen on a schedule, but providing I keep most of my routine intact I feel OK and that’s all I need, OK, I’m OK, your OK, we’re OK, I don’t need great I just need OK.
“Not everyday is OK, some are utter crap and I want to hide under my duvet and sometimes I do, but too many duvet days and I start to slip back down.“
Another thing which really does make a difference is diet and exercise! Urgh I know right? I’m not talking a diet-diet or running 10k every day, I’m talking a healthy balanced diet, protein, vegetables, fats etc even chocolate and as for exercise, I walk, that’s all, walk. I walk the dog most days, but not every day as sometimes I just don’t have the energy but even that is OK, I used to run until my knees gave up, but even that wasn’t far, maybe half a mile, and not all of it running.
“So many people live with mental illnesses of varying degrees, 1 in 4 people are living with something.“
Part of this increase in the number of individuals is just diagnosis, people are seeking help for their mental health now, the stigma of mental illness will probably never go completely but it is less.
So, if you are someone who has, might have, or knows someone who has a mental illness, keep going, seek help, there are hundreds of thousands of others out there and more help than ever before. Find support groups or go on-line, the number of mental health bloggers I have found since I started blogging is amazing, they are not only amazing writers but also help you to feel less alone, you know that someone else is or has been through the same thing and is still going, still living and you can to, just keep going.
You can follow Pippa’s journey over at her blog www.phigella.com where she shares posts about her lifestyle, pets, family and her health issues. Be sure to follow her on twitter to keep up to date with everything.
I’d like to thank Pippa for casting a spotlight on depression, it’s a subject I think we all need to talk more openly about and break through the stigma. Personally I was naive to the fact that people of all ages are affected by depression even teenagers. To echo Pippa’s words if you are suffering I urge you to follow the tips above and remember there are people who you can reach out to. You are never alone, and you can find happiness again. Organisations on hand to help include: Mind & Samaritans who can help you develop coping mechanisms for depression.
Next week I’ll be sharing part 2 of this series with Imogen’s Spotlight on Bullying. Make sure you subscribe to my blog to keep up to date with my posts. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.