Depression Awareness Week

Depression - PsychosisThis week April 20th-26th is Depression Awareness Week, created by the Depression Alliance it offers us another opportunity to discuss the “still” taboo subject of Depression.

Why is Depression still so taboo? Why is there still so much stigma attached to having Depression (or any other mental health illness for that matter)? Honestly, it drives me a whole new kind of crazy to see the looks I often get when people give me “that” look when they find I suffer with mental health problems.

I was first diagnosed with depression at nine years old, the diagnosis has evolved gradually since then, although my medication hasn’t. Over the years, I’ve learned to cover up how I’m really feeling from everyone including friends, family, employers, colleagues and even doctors. That is until all hell breaks loose and I no longer have any control over myself anymore, one of the downsides of being Bipolar!

Depression comes in so many shapes and sizes, like people there isn’t a one size fits all description of depression, and there isn’t a one size fits all treatment. I’ve seen some anti-depressants turn some people who couldn’t get out of bed into fully functioning, happy individuals who only needed the medication for a few months in the end. That same medication sent me spiralling into a suicidal frenzie. Other people don’t need any medication and talking therapies will help them work through their depression.

For me depression takes hold and rips me apart piece by piece. I haven’t stopped taking anti-depressants since I started when I was about 16-18 yrs old, that’s almost 20 years now. I’ve taken several different types some with more success than others and the doses get altered depending on my current moods but I never get taken off them.

I’ve been through various talking therapies and swear by them, the biggest problem is that the NHS limit how long you are allowed to have so just as you start getting somewhere BAM! It’s over! When I’ve been working and earning enough I’ve paid privately for these therapies but it’s DAMN expensive!

I’ve always taken the treatments offered to me and I’ve always done everything Doctors have suggested but the biggest problem I’ve encountered is being listened to by Doctors, especially GP’s. I reached a point about 10 years ago, having been told so many times I was overreacting, a hypochondriac and so on, where I just started telling them what I thought they wanted to hear. I know that this delayed my ultimate diagnosis and medication treatment but I just gave up caring. I felt if the Doctors I was seeing didn’t care why should I.

It was meeting my Husband 8 years ago which started to change this. I was in a manic phase when I met him so he really met me at my worst. Yet he just stuck by my side, refused to be pushed away no matter how hard I tried. He wasn’t phased by my attempts at suicide, self-harming and wild mood swings. Finding out his Mum was a mental health nurse and he had grown up hanging around in the local mental health hospital befriending inpatients explained a lot. To him I was normal!

Over the past 8 years he has taught me I have to be honest with Doctors, even the one’s who treat me with disrespect, and yes they still exist. That I can’t punish myself for being sick, that I need to embrace the people who do care for me and let go of those who are using me or draining me.

It’s taken 8 years but I feel I’m finally being listened to most of the times. I have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder which I’ve suspected for years. I’ve been told I may also have Schizophrenia which I do have to get my head around and discuss further with my Psychiatrist, but again, it kind of makes sense. Plus I think I’m going to finally get the medications which I desperately need and maybe I will see less of the depression which haunts me at least twice a year for months at a time currently.

So, that’s my depression story in a not so nutshell!

As this is Depression Awareness Week I want to share a few things other people have going on at the moment which I think are worth talking about:

#IWishMyFriendsKnew
This all started from this blog post written by a lovely lady I follow on Twitter @depressednotsad. The hashtag has hit a note with people on Twitter who have things they wish they could say to people in their lives. The tweets are moving, truthful and most of them you find yourself agreeing with! These are now retweeted on the handle @IWishMyFriends.

How Are You?
Claire Greaves, a young mental health campaigner from South Wales has started a campaign in preparation for Mental Health Awareness Week which is next month. Claire regularly tweets under @mentalbattle and has started a new account for this campaign @HowAreUHonestly. Like me she’s been battling various mental health issues since childhood but boy does this girl handle it well. The How Are You? Campaign asks everyone with or without mental health issues to answer the question honestly and not in the way we are accustomed to traditionally answer it. Check out her blog asking for submissions.

Finally, I was deeply moved by this video that Claire posted for Depression Awareness Week and wanted to share it here:

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