What many people don’t know about me (yes I’m a pro at putting on a smile) is for a short while I used to suffer from really bad anxiety and I also suffer from what I believe to be depression. In my opinion depression is something that is very hard to define and it’s definitely not just as simple as “being sad”.
Starting with the anxiety, I used to wake up every day and be physically sick just from waking up and having to face the day. At the time I had just been through a really bad break up and on top of this was going through a hard time at work. Having a full time job meant I had to be sick and continue with my day as normal. Sometimes I was even sick during work and in the evenings after, I really just couldn’t cope. Of course being sick meant that I couldn’t eat properly, I also didn’t want to eat much in case it increased the chances of me being sick and I lost A LOT of weight. At first I did go to the doctors, I wasn’t sure if it was some sort of virus in my stomach that was making me sick but then I realised the real reason behind it.
Once it was clear I didn’t have a stomach virus and I began to open up to the doctor about how low and ill I’d be feeling and what I’d been going through, she decided to give me some options. Prozac (an anti-depressant) being one and counselling being another. If I’m completely honest with you, neither of these options appealed to me, I’ve never been a fan of taking tablets and the thought of a tablet changing your state of mind scared me, particularly knowing that it can make you worse before it makes you better and counselling, well I’ve never been one to be able to talk about my problems. I knew I had to choose one of the options so I decided to go onto Prozac.
I was prescribed Prozac, one a day for a minimum of 6 months and warned that for the first few days I was likely to feel a million times worse and had to be very careful. They were right, the first few days I felt like utter crap but I was suffering more from anxiety than depression which I think made the whole thing a lot easier. They did help, I stopped being sick, I was able to eat again and my weight returned back to normal. I’m not sure if it was a mental thing, knowing that I was taking something which was meant to make me better and having that to rely on, who knows, but it worked and I felt a lot happier and a lot more positive and able to cope.
After nearly a year on Prozac both myself and my doctor decided it was time to come off. She said I seemed a million times happier and I felt ready to face the real world without the aid of tablets.
Since coming off the Prozac I have noticed more of the depressive state of how I feel. I like to remain positive and I strive for happiness and some days like today I sit here feeling ok, not what I would describe as happy but as ok and I think to myself do I really suffer from depression? Maybe not but then there are days where I feel so low, so alone and it scares me. I know that the Prozac was just a disguise for the real problem that I suffer from, a short term fix for something that I’m probably going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. I’ve made a promise to myself, that if I ever have a day where I’m feeling so low to the point where it actually scares me, I’ll go and see a counsellor.
Something very personal:
The last time I felt extremely low was on my 21st birthday and I decided I’d write down how I felt. Here it is…..
“Do you know what it’s like to feel like giving up? You’ve always tried to be strong, but people hurt you and people let you down, even ones you thought never would. I know I’m not alone in the way I feel, I’m sure there are people out there who also seem to find it impossible to be happy, those who feel alone and unloved.
People like us, do you know what we are? We’re those who spend our lives punishing ourselves, clinging on to poisonous things purely because they give us that glimmer of happiness that we so desperately need.
Sometimes I’m afraid that one day it’ll win, I try so hard to stay afloat, to find new ways of thinking and to find the positive in every situation but days like this and I feel like I’m drowning, like there’s no way out. The worst thing? I rely on others to help me feel alive, to feel loved. That’s the worst thing you can ever do, put your happiness in someone, particularly a lover and it can be taken away in an instant and you’re left feeling as alone and unloved as ever.
I’m 21 today and my birthday cake said “Congratulations on your 21st” and to be honest, it really does feel like congratulations, congratulations that through everything I’ve still managed to cope and get to my 21st birthday. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and I’ll feel different, I’ll feel more positive but it’s days like this that scare me. The fear of never being able to be happy again. I just want to be loved and happy and I don’t know what to do any more.”
I read that now and I think shit. Did I actually feel like that? Do things really get that bad for me? And I sit here and hope that I won’t ever have to feel like that again, that I can remain positive and do everything I can to be happy. I feel very exposed publically posting that but maybe there are people out there who will be able to relate and maybe this will help them to realise that they’re not alone and we can fight this. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life feeling like that or being unhappy. There are ways to cope and to deal with it, you don’t have to be unhappy for the rest of your life.
1 in 4 of us are affected by mental health every year and its nothing to be ashamed of. The symptoms of a physical health problem are a lot more obvious and can be noticed by others, mental health problems however are a lot harder to detect.
It’s time to start being more supportive of others. Next time you decide to pull someone down just remember they could already be going through hell and you wouldn’t even know it.
And for those suffering, please do not be afraid to ask for help. It’s so easy to shut down and block people out but force yourself to open up to people that care about you and love you and seek professional help, no one is judging you, if anything it just means you’re a brave, strong survivor for being able to face your problems head on.
Don’t let it win.