Depression: Turning the light back on
Posted Wednesday 10 October 2012
What was the worst phase of being diagnosed with depression? Was it the point when the doctor told me I would only have two weeks left to work before I was hospitalized? Or was it the sense of failure that gripped my insides and twisted them until nausea swept over me?
I had worked in the corporate world for thirty years. I had always been the strong one, the one who held it all together. And here I was, sat in the doctors’ surgery, finally admitting through the tears that I could take it no more.
During the two years prior to my diagnosis I was a regular visitor to the doctor. I was on a constant journey of ailments that came from nowhere and where no underlying cause could be found. I was seemingly on antibiotics constantly. I had no energy and had adopted a negative attitude towards everything.
Looking back over this time, I now describe it like a dimmer switch going off in my life – until that day in June 2009 when the light finally clicked off.
I have come to understand that the symptoms I had suffered were psychosomatic: tests and scans along with the realisation that I no longer have the ailments have assured me of that.
As I talk to others about my depression I realise that each person’s journey with depression is as unique to themselves as they are to their own being. There are similarities, some have the same symptoms, but for others things are so different.
Along my journey I was accompanied by anger, panic attacks and the most awful sense of paranoia. Today it is a job to say which was worse – they all affected me in the most dreadful of ways.
My anger seemed to erupt at anything at any time. I was angry with me, with others around me, the world in general, and at times with God for letting this happen to me. My personality changes were incredible, but as they had happened over time they just seemed to become the norm to me and everyone around me.
In all, it was the darkest of journeys, with seemingly, at that time, no light.
My depression was made worse as my world crashed around me. It seemed that I was losing everything that had been important. In August 2009, I ended up homeless as my apartment succumbed to dry rot resulting in me having to move out. In November 2009, my depression had left me so debilitated I had to take the option of leaving my corporate career, so now I was jobless. Then, two days before Christmas Day, my partner of four years left me, so now I was also single.
The year 2009 was most definitely my annus horribilis, until New Year’s Eve…
I made the decision then to change from within. I was on medication, I had been through a course of CBT and counselling and I was lucky to have the support of family, friends and an understanding doctor. But, as I stood in the snow in my slippers, I knew that unless I kicked myself up the butt and worked on myself then I had less chance of recovery.
I made many changes in my life in 2010. I used affirmations, gratitude lists and visualisation to assist me to change my thought patterns. Nothing happened overnight but with determination, belief and focus on my goals I managed to renovate my flat, train as a life coach and set up my own business.
Is life today all sunshine and roses? Has the depression gone away?
Well, as anyone who has suffered depression will know, it is a mental illness. It is something you live with. The majority of the time I am well and healthy. I live a positive, happy and successful life. However, I put this down to being able to understand the symptoms before they take hold.
I now know when I need to rest and when I need to take time out. I have the tools within to use when I need assistance. I go for a walk – nature has a great way of making things alright again.
Be good to yourself and please know there is always light. Be strong and be the one to turn it on.
Today is World Mental Health Day.
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