I want to start by saying that this post took a whole lot of courage for me to even consider publishing. I have put it off and put it off, I’ve written it, deleted it and started over so many times I’ve lost count. However, I really do believe in trying to raise awareness, and the only way that this will be achieved is to speak up. I think even people who have known me a long time will be surprised by this post. So a forewarning, this might be miserable, but it has a happy ending, I promise.
Diabetes does have a big stigma around it. I’ve said it many times before, but it really is true. Another condition which suffers in the same way, is Depression, and unfortunately the two are often linked. After all, there are times when it is depressing to feel like a human pin cushion, like your blood sugars will be never be in range, realising that there is no break from this disease.
Depression affects a massive amount of people and still there is not enough help or support for those who suffer. It is another condition that leaves no visible trace, and it’s so hard to explain to anyone who has never felt it. I would know, as I was diagnosed with depression at 14.
Now what is important to keep in mind, is there a difference between being a bit miserable and being depressed. I’ve felt both and they are not the same in any way. I’d take feeling miserable over the dark numb ache of feeling depressed, any day. Sometimes I can feel it creeping up on me, it comes and washes over me until I feel like I’m drowning. Other times it hits me out of nowhere, and it’s as if a wall has been thrown up that I just can’t get past. All I want to do is lock myself away but I know that is the worst thing I could do.
I suffered from an eating disorder around the same time I was told I was suffering from depression and the issue I have with my weight has never gone away. I can go for a long time barely eating and sometimes when I do, it takes all my self-control to not go and make myself sick. I’m convinced about 95% of the time that I’m overweight. It didn’t help that when you suffer from high bloods, it can make you lose weight and when I was younger, to me, it was worth the risk. I wish 21-year-old me could go and tell 15-year-old me that her weight is fine and she needs to look after herself.
As I said, I was first diagnosed with depression at 14, going on 15. There were varying underlying causes of this, but a big focus was on my diabetes and how I could get to grips with it and start looking after myself better. I was in counselling for a while and although it never truly helped, it was a bit easier to deal with. I was about to write that I was okay for a few years, but even in those few years it was hard. You can try and keep your head above water as hard as you like, but eventually it will wear you down. When I was 19, various events occurred and I really lost my ability to try and battle through. I began to suffer badly with panic attacks, nightmares, I was a bit of a wreck and if I didn’t look it on the outside, I more than made up for it with the way I felt inside. I was so desperate to not let it show and to keep up the image that I coped with everything fine that I think even people close to me were surprised when they found out how much I was dealing with. I knew I needed help and it took a lot of courage, but I eventually went to my GP and broke down. I was offered a new type of counselling (which I took) and put on anti depressants and as silly as it sounds, I was gutted. I just wanted to be happy, I didn’t want to be questioning whether my happiness was natural or induced by tablets, but I knew I had no choice.
The first two weeks were even worse. The tablets knocked me out, to a point where I had to stop taking them in the morning and switch to the evening as by 10am I was like a zombie, I just didn’t function. The nightmares were made even more vivid and intense, whether that was a result of the tablets or just me being knocked out into a deeper sleep, I’m still not sure. I was grinding my teeth all the time, something I never do and I just generally felt restless. After a while the tablets kicked in, the panic attacks eased and I found it easier to go about my day-to-day life. I think a lot of people believe that anti depressants are some kind of magic that make everything better, but in my experience, they make it bearable, not better.
After about 5 months, I knew I needed to come off them but I was so worried about how I’d feel once I did. What I found was that after a while, it wasn’t so much they were picking my mood up, it felt as if they were pushing it back down. It felt like there was a lid being kept on top of my emotions, restricting me from feeling anything much. It was a new kind of numbness and it was horrible feeling so detached from everything and everyone around me.
“Just snap out of it”, “Stop being so negative”.
I know that there are times I’ve not been able to make sense of how I’m feeling myself, to try and explain it to others is damn near impossible. It’s not as easy as that. It’s not a case of trying to feel a bit more positive, it’s trying to feel anything at all other than your own personal darkness.
In the same way it irritates me when Diabetes is joked about, it irritates me even further when Depression is mocked. It’s so hard to face up to, to admit that in fact you think there is something wrong and you aren’t just having a bit of a rough time. So to finally come to terms with it, get the help you need and then feel as if people don’t believe you or are laughing at you, is crushing.
I promised a happier ending to this post and there really is. I’ve been off anti depressants for over a year now, and there are still days when it’s hard for me and I just shut down a bit, but I feel more able to cope with it then I did before. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s important to know you have got support and I can guarantee that you will from somewhere. I wish I hadn’t bottled everything up for as long as I did because I think it builds up to a point where it has to explode in some way and it isn’t healthy.
Talking helps, writing helps, knowing you aren’t alone helps.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”