“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
I have wanted to take the above pledge for a while now. But I told myself I needed to be in the right frame of mind to write the accompanying post. The irony of this has not passed me unnoticed. I am not one to publish a sub standard post but I don’t think it can be helped at the moment. Coupled with my brain box feeling cloudy, I am also struggling to catch my breath today. So I will keep this brief.
Maybe, I’ll start with my story as I’m sure most of you don’t know it.
I have always, to my shame, looked down on people who had Depression. I genuinely thought depressed people were “ssaaaadddddd”, not in the emotional sense, but in the derogatory “what-a-LOSER” sense. I never thought it would affect someone like me.
I was diagnosed with Major Depression Disorder in September 2014, almost six months ago. At the time I was struggling to concentrate at work. Simple tasks took two hours instead of ten minutes to complete. I had problems sleeping. I would wake up at 5am every morning, in a complete state. I would be drenched in sweat, certain that someone had turned off the oxygen supply in my bedroom. I couldn’t breathe. I was going to die. It was truly awful. I would panic like this until I had to get up for work. By the time I arrived at work, it felt like I had wrestled a bear. And lost.
I was exhausted.
This continued for many months until my boyfriend took me to the GP. She prescribed Sertraline and an anti-anxiety drug called Urbanol. I was so ashamed. I told myself I wasn’t depressed. I was strong. I was a ninja. Ninjas don’t get Depression. I decided to ignore my medication. I knew I could do this alone.
Turns out I couldn’t.
After a few weeks of struggling to stay afloat without meds, I had a full-blown panic attack at work. I was having lunch with a friend. When we said goodbye, I realised that I would have to go back up to my desk and work. And the next day I would work too. And the day after that. And the one after that. Until I died. I couldn’t do it.
A few days prior, I was researching the most effective ways to commit suicide. Even though I was happy about my decision to kill myself, I was scared it would go wrong, and I’d be left physically disabled or worse yet, alive, and having to face the consequences of spending the rest of my days as the crazy girl who can no longer be trusted around sharp objects.
All these thoughts came up when I had the panic attack. I was shaking. I couldn’t breathe. I thought “I’m about to die” The room was spinning. It felt like being trapped inside a snow globe that someone was violently shaking. I had no control.
I was driven to the GP once more and booked off work for a week. That week passed in a daze. My boyfriend rented movies for me that I couldn’t understand. I tried to read but couldn’t get passed the first sentence. I had no appetite. I slept a lot. I showered very little.
After a week it was decided that I would benefit from a visit to a psychiatric hospital. I just remember thinking “Holy sh*t. I’m gonna be girl interrupted”
I believe everyone would profit from a stay in a psychiatric hospital at some point in their lives. It was highly rewarding, and for the budding writer, The Clinic was rich in anecdotal treasures. Being with other “normal” but depressed people made me realise that this is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. Depression doesn’t care if you’re pretty, or young, or well off. It doesn’t care that you’re usually a happy person. Depression doesn’t see colour, status or class. It will gobble you up and spit you back out.
But not me.
When I left The Clinic, I was determined to do all I could to bring an end to the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. I believe that if you’ve been affected by a mental illness, it is your moral duty to educate others about its effects.
Depression is hard, but people’s reactions to it makes it harder.
Think about it.
Would you say to a double amputee: “I feel you bro, I had a paper cut once”
Or “Snap out of it” to a diabetic?
Or to a cancer patient: “You’re so talented and rich, why would you have cancer?”
You wouldn’t. Depression is no different.
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