In late February, during a psychiatrical Skype call, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I had been crying in bed for days and I had no idea why; the months preceding this were a mixture of social anxiety, panic attacks and lack of motivation that culminated in two crisis where tears would stream down my face and I had a wrenching pain in my chest for absolutely no reason.
My bed was both the best and the worst part of my day. I couldn’t get out of it in the morning so I would stay the whole day, except for when friends or family would beg me to go outside and do something else. These ventures to the outside world were my worst nightmare, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye and every social interaction seemed forced, awkward and insincere.
The Skype call in February resulted in my medication, which I have to take religiously everyday with my breakfast. Many people were against this, and I can see why. It is addictive and I start shaking if I don’t take it in the appropriate times, which is scary in itself but the pills have also given me a step out the door and massive pain relief that I could not have given myself, no matter what coping mechanism I was clinging on to.
The most accurate account of how I was feeling was written by comedian Rob Delaney, who struggled with depression for a long time. Even though my case wasn’t as severe as his, and I desperately sought help, I understood his afflictions and it helped me understand more about what was happening in my head. I suppose this is why I am writing this post.
My social life has gone down the drain, I have disappeared from most social circles I used to count on and I don’t quite know how I feel about that just yet. Only in the last couple of days have I started to get a grip on myself, on who I am and what I want out of life. My family, close friends and boyfriend have been the best support I could have hoped for, even when I was adamantly pushing everyone away from me because my mind kept telling me I’d be better off alone and that I was incapable of loving or socializing.
In the deepest levels of my crisis stage, I had two modes: hysterical crying and painful numbness. I wouldn’t be surprised if some one told me I cried my whole body weight, because at times I felt so weak and dehydrated I could barely walk without pain.
Last week, I felt like I was going to have another crisis. I felt pain in my chest again and then a constant feeling of desperation and nervousness that was threatening to force me to stay in bed again, day after day. But for some reason, the crisis didn’t happen – although it still might – and today I feel better than I’ve felt in months. I’ve been meaning to write about this episode in my life for a while, but my lack of motivation and constant negativity took a toll on my writing skills and I delayed it as much as possible. Oh, and also posting that you were crying in bed for days on the internet requires either courage or extreme stupidity, I’m not sure which of these I’ve got at the moment but to be honest I don’t care one bit.
This post, as cheesy as it sounds, is to reassure those afflicted by mental illness that you are not alone, and there are people who feel the same; as soon as I said the word depression to my friends they understood how I felt and some of them had even battled with the disease themselves. It is also to say that depression makes you do things you wish you had never done and that your mind tells you these are the things you must do to escape the pain. Trust me, they are not.
Even with so much trouble in my mind, I have to count my blessings. During this time I thought I was incapable I got an job interview at the Daily Mail, I got one of the best Uni marks I’ve ever gotten in my life and I have done a lot of amazing writing that maybe wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been given this illness to mature from. I thrived, even though I felt like I was dying.
And I must say I took up on many hobbies that I absolutely love and had forgotten about since I came to University. I can knit now and I have been scrapbooking again. I have also avidly made time for reading for pleasure which helps in so many ways – escaping your own mind might seem like a cliché but it is what books are for.
I hope this clear things up for friends and family who were far away from me during these past few months. My battle isn’t over, but alas, I have an essay to write. Let’s hope I thrive again.
Edit: As a journalist, I believe no one should suffer in silence. When people tell me their pain during an interview, it is inevitable that I will use it in my writing, so I feel like it would be hypocritical not to expose my own troubles.