In what seems to have become the norm for me now, this is another difficult post to write. Not because of the material, necessarily, but more because it involves making an admission to myself and, by extension, those who read this blog. Ordinarily, I try to avoid making distinctly “personal” posts. Instead, I try to direct the issue to a more generalised set of examples and then put in a little personal information. Instead, this is all about me.
I have recently been diagnosed as having chronic recurring depression. To those who know me personally, this probably won’t come as much of a surprise. It seems that those outside of it always manage to see the cycles much better than those on the inside of it all. But, there it is. What I thought was simply a lack of skills or ability to cope with the multiple stresses life was throwing at me, turns out to be a chemical imbalance inside my brain that means that I am physically incapable of dealing with a lot of what life gives me, without treatment.
Now, I know I shouldn’t feel bad for sharing the fact that I have depression. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and I’m not. What I am ashamed of is the fact that I let it get so far without asking for help, or without letting the people around me know what was going on before it got to this point. I had my suspicions. I knew something was up, but rather than heading to the doctor sooner, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the money. It’d all be fine if I could just get over this assignment, or that interview, or this appointment. There was always something else to be done.
My relationship with my partner suffered. My relationship with my child suffered. My uni work has suffered. My work life has suffered. It wasn’t until all this was pointed out to me that I realised how long this had been going on for.
This is the first week of medication. It’s been difficult. The days of lethargy, the headaches, the inability to sleep despite being so tired – they have all taken their toll. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. People know now, and can help when I need them to. If I falter, they know what is going on, rather than not understanding at all.
This is not a call for those who feel they may have depression to go get help. That sort of thing doesn’t really work. It doesn’t matter how many people say you seem depressed, until you make the realisation yourself it holds no validity. This is simply a statement that once you do seek help, it does get easier. Not every day, because there are still ups and downs, but bit by bit it gets easier. It gets much easier when you know you’re not being foolish, that there is a medical reason you’re up at three in the morning crying for no apparent reason. That there’s a physiological cause of that lethargy. And once you are armed with that knowledge, that makes it easier to cope. Day by day, one step at a time, you can break down that cycle.