Depression: Let's Talk (World Health Day 2017)
Today is World Health Day and this year the focus topic is Depression: Let's talk.
Great idea, hard to execute.
I never understood depression until I was 19 and in my second year of university. I always had anxiety from the get go, and that made sense to me. Thinking all the time, panic attacks, quick movements and being frantic made sense to me. What didn't make sense was feeling nothing. I didn't know how you could be stuck in your bed and not pacing the room when you're worried. I didn't know how you could sit still when your mind was racing. I didn't know how you could have no motivation when there were so many things going on at once. I had seen depression but I never claimed to understand or experience it.
Then I got it. Depression doesn't have to be triggered by some earth shattering life event. I think that's a trap a lot of people fall into. They don't think they feel bad enough/they have no reason to feel this way so it must be ok. In my case I have a lot of factors that make me very predisposed to it. But I wrote them off at the time. All of a sudden I was confronted with the normal anxiety feelings, but absolutely no drive to do anything about it.
After a while I didn't feel much of anything. Just a bit neutral and numb. Getting out of bed was hard, and a lot of the time I didn't succeed. If I did then the day would be a very tiring act of appearing normal. Then I'd come home, turn off the happy face and go back to the numb. I felt like a burden on everyone. The anxiety makes me a perfectionist, the depression makes me disgusted that I fall short of those expectations. It's like you're running toward a rainbow. It keeps moving and after a while you wonder why you're running. It leeches into every single thing you do and say and think.
Right now I'm living hours away from home, alone, supporting myself and on placement. Thankfully that comes to an end next week, but it's been quite the experience. When your brain makes you forget things, get upset easily, have crazy blood sugars, have trouble sleeping and struggle to get going in the mornings, you're not the best student. You're a bit of a useless one. Not to mention my abysmal attempt at eating much of anything has left me perpetually exhausted (I have never appreciated my mum's cooking more than right now). But I'm okay. Likely malnourished and running on anxiety, but okay.
It's hard to acknowledge depression. I don't like talking about it much because then I have to think about it. But we need to talk about it. We need to make it okay to talk about it with one another and in the workplace. To use the most over-used line ever (but there's a reason it's over used: it's true!). It gets better. Right now is hard, but it won't always be that way. It can't be, because things change every single day. You change all the time. If things change every day, why is the way you're feeling the exception?
This video explains depression a lot better than me, so check it out! I guess the main message of all this is to not write yourself off as over-reacting. It's important to seek help when you feel these things, even if it's only a little bit. Talk, write, whatever. Just tell someone. You don't have to do it by yourself. I can guarantee that someone cares.