Sam never expected to be diagnosed with depression. She blogs about what happened and what got her through.
Every young girl has to deal with problems but these you would expect to be the likes of… what should I wear? Shall I go out tonight? Or something to do with a boyfriend. Not depression.
I considered myself an average 22 year old with a good life. I had just completed my degree in Fashion design - the best three years of my life, then going on to live out my dream of travelling round the United States. I didn't have it bad at all.
The biggest challenge I was about to face was getting my first full time job in the real world. I knew it wasn't going to be easy but armed with what I thought was a decent CV with a fair amount of qualifications and experience, the job search started. Who wouldn't want a bubbly graduate with a bucket load of enthusiasm right?
Wrong. Days, weeks and months slowly passed me by, as I continued to work my part-time job in retail. Maybe a break from the seemingly impossible task of getting a job was what I needed? So I booked a week off work to give me just that, thinking I could make loads of plans, see loads of people and generally have a good time filled me with excitement.
The week off came and I wasn't myself. I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed in the morning, let alone organise doing anything. I found myself getting agitated with my lack of motivation.
"An overwhelming sense of confusion hit me and I broke down there and then."
Tuesday morning, on went the uniform and I was back to work. Going about my day as usual and catching up with my work colleagues, but I still couldn't shake off the feeling I’d had for the past week. I was a lot slower than usual, unlike my heart rate which was picking up and going at a frightening pace.
Panicking as to what was happening to me, I felt dizzy, sick and generally a bit lost in an environment I’d always been happy in. BANG. Standing in the middle of the shop floor, I felt myself lose balance and everything went a bit hazy. An overwhelming sense of confusion hit me and I broke down there and then. Clearly not well. My manager took me out the back and tried to calm me down and work out what was going on. At this point of course, I didn't know so I couldn't enlighten her.
This was the first time I’d been sent home for anything, let alone for something I was none the wiser to what was actually wrong. I drove straight to the doctors in a bit of a daze, waited to be seen, ticked some boxes on a sheet and vaguely tried to tell the Doctor what had happened.
"I was always the ‘life and soul of the party’ type of girl and was confused by what I’d just been told"
‘Depression’, was the next word to come out of his mouth. Immediately my world went dark and a numb feeling covered my body and mind. Me, depressed? I was always the ‘life and soul of the party’ type of girl and was confused by what I’d just been told. Crying isn’t something I usually do, so I got annoyed at myself for doing it, but the floodgates opened and I had no idea how to shut them.
Over the next few months I struggled to recognise myself. Food didn't taste the same, sleep didn’t make me any less tired and conversations seemed even more hard work than usual. For someone who used to be so conscious of wanting to dress nicely, I rarely opened my wardrobe door and opted for sweats and a hoody. Low self-esteem had taken over and my confidence levels had hit an all-time low.
Being around people terrified me. An everyday activity like shopping, which I'd normally enjoy, left me clinging to my Mum’s side, looking like a rabbit caught in headlights. Feeling like everyone was staring at me, but of course this was all in my head.
"People saying, ‘oh you’re just a bit down’ and ‘cheer up, it’s not that bad’ infuriated me."
People saying, ‘oh you’re just a bit down’ and ‘cheer up, it’s not that bad’ infuriated me. Having spoken to many psychiatric specialists and counsellors during this time, the one thing I was told was that the first step to recovery was acceptance and understanding. I haven't accepted it, but I gained an understanding of depression by learning about it.
The day I got my new job was the first time I had smiled in months. But a huge challenge faced me. I had been signed off work up until that day. I was struggling to be around people. How was I going to cope in a new environment? All I knew was that I wasn't going to be introducing myself as, “Hi, I'm Sam and I’ve got depression”.
Yoga I believe truly saved me – hot yoga. It was the one thing throughout my illness that kept me focused. Having a set routine in a 90 minute class gave me something I could repeatedly work with, and get better at. In my everyday life at the time I had zero motivation to make progress. Yoga was the only place I could look at myself in a mirror and not have an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. It gave me the beauty of feeling myself again, and not the girl with depression.
To this day I find yoga keeps me grounded. It allows me to have head space in a controlled environment, so that my mind doesn't wander into bad thoughts. This worked for me, but there is no right or wrong answer to how to get through this, everyone finds their own cure at different points.
For ages I never spoke about my illness, as I was ashamed of the shell of a person it turned me into. I still have down days, but these are thankfully few and far between because I can recognise what I need to do to control it.
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