I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for a while now, but as its Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week it seemed the perfect time to start.
My history with depression and anxiety is short, I’ve only been on medication since January, however I’ve frequently found myself at low points over the last few years.
Like many I have had difficult relationships, including issues with my partner’s mental health and emotional and verbal abuse. Those five years caused me to withdraw and become emotionally distant with those around me. Not only that; it left me with low confidence in all aspects of my life and myself. Crying and arguing in a café in Paris will always dark time for me. I visited doctors at various points during these years however the boyfriends were used as scapegoats and I never received any serious attention. I sought non-medical routes as well, and though counselling helped, I only really recovered post-break up.
Lets jump to the end of 2015 and I’m in a new city, doing something I’ve been working towards for a while now (and love), and it all starts to slip away again. Stress and the need to be productive struggle against each other, ultimately resulting in more stress. By Christmas I was no longer sleeping properly and no longer enjoying anything. However, it was not until I went home for the holiday that I realised that it wasn’t normal. I was fighting back tears in the kitchen while my family laughed watching TV, but when I returned to them I was normal. I kept it all together, not wanted to ruin Christmas, until I was dropped back off at university and within hours I had a break down on the phone. It was only then I realised that this wasn’t normal, and its only now that I can see I haven’t been normal for a long time.
I had my first panic attack in January and with that sought help from my doctor. Since then I’ve been placed on anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants, they have helped. For me, however, it’s the anxiety that keeps coming back. Sleepless night and mornings of waiting for mild panic to subside are still a regular occurrence. I am coping better though, I am able to focus better on bad days and have concurred social anxiety at an international conference. My second panic attack occurred minutes before I was set to give a presentation, and somehow I managed to maintain my composure and deliver.
For the first few months I was ashamed. Why couldn’t I cope with things others could? Although I still have that question I can see now that the why doesn’t matter. What matters is that I don’t let it affect my life. I’m planning a trip over the summer and I refuse to back down due to my fears.
I’m very good at hiding my feelings, but I no longer want to. It’s a part of who I am and probably always will be. The further I bury it the more viciously it attacks; so its time to bring it to the surface.
Depression and anxiety are often hard to see, but for many it hangs over like a dark cloud. We need to be help, but not patronise. Support but not shelter. Awareness is the first step.