for better mental health

Bringing back joy to fight depression

Monday, 27 October 2014 Eleanor

Eleanor shares her experiences of depression and her plan to bring joy back into her life.

I have been living with depression for a while now. I suspect it started as postnatal depression, soon after my second child was born over 3 years ago, but I can’t pin down exactly when or why it started, which is one of the hardest things.

I live in a beautiful part of the country, have a loving husband and two amazing children. I have a job I enjoy, my own house, and some wonderful friends and family. So why do I feel so bad? Not being able to blame anything tangible and specific is the most frustrating part of how I feel. It makes getting better so much harder – I just don’t know where to start.

I don’t see the good in my life any more. I have forgotten how to appreciate the little things. On bad days, I exist in a world that seems devoid of any colour and I just have to concentrate on getting through this dreary world to the next day. Maybe when the next day comes, there may just be a glimmer of colour and it will be a little easier.

I know I’m the only person that can make myself better. I can take antidepressants, go to counselling and look to friends for help and support, but getting better will ultimately come from me.

But where do I start? I have tried to blame so many things in the hope that if they change, life will get better. I thought it may be that I get no time to myself because of always having the children, so I have used more childcare. I thought it may be that I need to work, so I got a job. I have most recently decided it is all my husband’s fault and thought about ending the relationship – luckily I realised in time that I am not myself at the moment and this is not how I really feel. The truth is that some small changes have helped a little, but there is no one thing or set of things I can blame and so I have to acknowledge that getting better is going to be a long process.

But I do have a plan. I want to gradually put the joy back into my life. I want to feel ridiculously proud of the small achievements my children make and be able to laugh with them at the smallest things. I want to feel alive again and to be able to look forward to things. So I need to work out how I get the joy back.

I am going to try new things. I have recently joined a running group as exercise is good for the mind. It’s true, I do feel better afterwards. I have also joined a choir because I loved music at school and it means I have met a whole new group of people. For a couple of hours a week, I forget everything else and concentrate on something different.

I know I also need to make some changes that are a little less tangible. I think I need to be more mindful of what is going on around me. I spend quite a lot of time outdoors but don’t really ever take in what I see. The changing autumn leaves, a stunning sunrise or sunset; I am often so consumed by my own thoughts that these go unnoticed. Noticing these things again would help bring in a glimmer of colour and a touch of joy. Then maybe, just maybe, bit by bit life will become rich with colour and joy again.

So that is what I am going to do.  I will do it and I believe life will get better. Getting started is always the hardest part.

Read about depression

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