Emma blogs for us today about the moment she decided to make a change in her life to better manage her depression.
I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 19 and have constantly battled with trying to be "normal" and having my black periods. I've been at crisis point three times over the years, but as I've grown older I came to realise that thoughts of taking my own life were not the answer. In some ways that makes it harder, but instead I just keep moving around, or running away as my family see it.
One of the hardest things for people to understand is that I've always been able to either maintain or gain a decent job, and many think if I can hold down a good job then things can't be that bad, can they?
I tend to go through cycles, I get really down, unable to function and go to work, sometimes unable to even get out of bed or shower for days on end. I then seek treatment, get a bit better, then throw myself back into "normality". Yet I still keep going round and round in circles, it's like a never ending merry go round without the merry bit.
I functioned by constantly striving to achieve more, be better, earn more. Status and material things became everything to me, but no matter what I did and how hard I worked, in my eyes I was always a failure. Getting a promotion was not a time to be pleased with myself, it was always a case of why did it take me so long, or that I only got it because they felt sorry for me. Yet even though I have what society would deem a decent career with a good wage and all the nice things in life, I'm still so immensely unhappy and still have no real friends (apart from one, but even we are growing apart).
Following my most recent collapse in "normal" existence I did something that I have always wanted to do but never did because I worried to much about what others would think of me, I threw my tent, bike and some clothes in the back of my car and set off without my phone (accidentally) and went on an adventure. My goodness I have never felt so me!
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all an easy realisation time. As I moved house almost a year ago I decided to travel around the Western Isles near me. The first night was really exhilarating, the second was a bit more subdued and by the third night I was beginning to wonder what I was doing. It was then that I heard about a small music festival going on and again I did something I would never do and volunteered to work there. Being there, it felt like once I let go of me, I became me.
The biggest lesson I learnt whilst away was that all the dreams and ambitions I have strived for over the years are all the things that I believed I should be striving for and not what I wanted to strive for. I soon realised the reason I go round and round in circles is because I keep aiming for the dreams I think I should be aiming for and not the dreams that are in my heart!
Since returning home, I've started to sell all the material things that I just don't care about, don't use and certainly don't need. The real me doesn't care about where I should be career wise for my age, I care about whether I can go climbing if the weather is right or get out on the water, who cares what job I do as long as I'm paying my own bills, if I'm happy then who cares!
I think I'll always struggle with depression, but I feel if I break this cycle of going after dreams that are not really mine then who knows, maybe I'll be happier more of the time. And even if I'm not, at least I'll be able to say I'm following my heart and dreams and not those that I imagine I should be doing.
I have no idea what the future holds for me, other than that I’m changing merry go rounds for one that looks much more like mine!