‘What idiot called it “depression” and not “there are bats living in my chest and they take up a lot of room, ps. I see a shadow”?’ ~ Melissa Broder
My conversation with my mum went something like, “I have anxiety, I hate my life and I need counselling but don’t panic”.
Of course she panicked and I slid back into my shell. It’s hard explain to someone that you feel like you’re dying, it’s even harder when the person you’re trying to explain it to loves you, and harder still when the person you’re speaking to doesn’t understand. Many people think depression is sadness, a fleeting feeling that you can just get over, when in reality the person suffering is walking around feeling like some ugly force is sucking the life out of them and they don’t have the motivation to fight back. I often think depression can’t really be explained, it can only be felt. Like most most unfortunate feelings and things, once you have felt it or been through it, you become so sensitive to it that you can recognize it others and you feel a sense of compassion and understanding that you didn’t before.
I didn’t realize I was suffering, I just thought I was just going through the normal motions of life. I was waking up every morning feeling hopeless, down, deflated and demotivated. I wasn’t able to connect with my loved ones and I was having anxiety attacks more than usual – sometimes for what felt like no reason at all. It was only after a succession of crazy panic attacks that I knew things were more sinister than I was admitting to myself.
I went to see my doctor to talk about a more pressing issue (cankles) because I was totally sure I could handle my mental health meltdown on my own, but as I sat in the waiting room, I started to panic. When my doctor called me into her room, it turned into a full blown panic attack. I tried to explain over my shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and tears that I was actually there to see her about my fat ankles but of course she wasn’t having any of it. I admitted to myself and my doctor for the first time in that appointment, that I really wasn’t okay and I needed help.
My doctor referred me to my local counselling service which I was so grateful for because I know I respond well to counselling, she also offered me medication but I declined it at the time. I didn’t decline the medication because I thought it wouldn’t work, I declined it because I felt like taking medication for depression and anxiety was weak and I wanted to get better on my own. I know now that my mentality at the time was wrong and depression and anxiety are illnesses just like any other and there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking medication to help treat these illnesses. However, I do believe that medication alone is not the answer, you have to do the work. The work may be counselling, therapy, exercise, yoga, meditation, etc – if you want to get better, you have to do the work! From my own experience, I know that whatever treatment route(s) you take, somebody will always have something to say. You have to block out the noise and follow a treatment plan that works for you.
I’m still waiting for my counselling to be begin, so in the mean time I have started reading some great books, speaking to my friends about whats REALLY going on, and thinking about how to get to the root of my problems. It has been just over a month since I started taking medication for my anxiety and depression and I have noticed some good changes. I still feel what I consider to be normal emotions, such as sadness and even anxiety but they are not taking over my life. My relationships with my loved ones, (my mum in particular) are more healthy – turns out I’m not a raging snappy bitch when my mood is balanced. My friend Monica is a nutritional therapist, and she recommended some things to me that have really made a difference in my life. I have introduced more protein and Omega 3 into my diet by taking Omega 3 supplements and adding Hemp seeds, Flax seeds and Chia seeds to my meals. I’m a vegetarian, hence why my protein intake is mostly seed and plant based. My favorite thing by far that Monica introduced me to is Bergomot Oil, this oil gives me life! As well as it’s many other uses, Bergomot oil helps to reduce anxiety and stress. I just put a little on my collar or on a paper towel and sniff it when I start to feel anxious and it really does calm me down. I probably look like a nitty to the general public when i’m sniffing away but at least I’m calm.
I’ve learnt during this time that despite what I’m going through, I’m still a ray of light for others. I have never felt so loved like I have in the past few months – from the people at work to the random strangers I have crossed paths with on my journeys. I know it sounds cheesy but for me, this is evidence that I have a purpose, and my inner light is shining through the dark cloud that hovers above me. I also learnt that apart from dealing with the root of my issues, in order for me to not get lost in life and feel down and out, I need to have a vision for myself. Without a vision, I will always sink back into a slump of depression. Taking medication for the rest of my life is simply not an option for me, but I accept that at this point I am a work in progress and I need help. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that glimmer of hope is enough for me to push through.
I’ve been rambling on for a while but this post has been on my heart for a very long time and I just had to get it all out.
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