Thousands of people suffer from this illness or disorder or whatever you like to call it. The person sitting next to you or sleeping next to you at night may be a sufferer. A person who was once so happy and carefree may suddenly become down and negative. Or that friend of yours who always sees the bad in things just got worse.
Maybe it's you? Maybe you're the one that's suffering? Is that why you are reading this? No-one is immune. Everyone can suffer at some point in their lives. It can just sneak up and hit you like a ton of bricks. You may only suffer one episode. You may have been suffering for months or years. Are you struggling and don't know what to do? Where to turn?
It's hard, to find any help, anywhere. I searched and searched and found nothing. I had no emails back from sources designed to help people like me in that situation. I rang support groups and left messages and received nothing in return. But maybe I wasn't supposed to find the support there because eventually I found the right help. I do believe, a bit, in fate. Was it that?
I've suffered for years and through a bad experience with a psychiatrist when I was in my teens, it put me off mental health professionals for a long time. I had no choice but to see a psychiatrist when I was pregnant, as I was so ill. It restored my faith in mental health care. That one episode as a teenager left a mark for such a long time that I struggled on for years not getting the right help. My GP (several in fact) were less than helpful and I have to admit I felt persecuted to some degree. One GP thought it was odd I didn't want medication for my depression and said 'it's a bit like a vegetarian going into a butchers' !! Meaning why had I come to the surgery if I didn't want pills?? He laughed rather snidely I have to say and I went home and cried.
Another GP wanted to know if I was feeling suicidal, why hadn't I killed myself? In tears and desperate I screamed 'because I have a child'. Having a child may stop me trying to do something harmful to myself but won't take away the feeling. He sat back in his chair and I swear if he'd put his feet on the desk and his hands behind his head I wouldn't have been at all surprised. I only went to ask him to change my medication. I had no energy. I couldn't sleep properly at night, yet I could sleep all day. I had no interest in anything. I struggled through each day. No life, barely an existence. All I wanted was a little help.
He refused to help. He said I needed to change my life in order to feel better. I had. I had given up my job. Removed a source of stress which I couldn't cope with. But it wasn't the long term answer. I loved my job but with everything else going on in my life I just couldn't cope with it as well. I was fortunate enough to have a husband who could support (financially) but ironically had he been more supportive in the first instance, at home etc then I wouldn't have had to give up work.
My job involves working with people who may have tried, and some cases, succeeded to tale their own lives. Have you ever felt that low that you've even considered it? No matter what? The pain inside just needs to stop, you need to stop thinking, stop feeling this pain. Is that so selfish? yes, probably, because your leaving the world will not be a good thing. There will be better days. There will be better weeks and there will be be some damn fine moments left to experience. So how to stop this feeling?? There's no easy answer. Drugs helped me. As in antidepressants, not illegal ones! But finding the right dose and type can be a mine field and thew side effects can be off putting. You can actually feel worse than better on first starting the meds. The meds get put on the shelf and we battle on. You've tried medication and 'it doesn't work'.
There is also therapy. Accessing it is a nightmare and what if the therapist doesn't suit you? It took me years to find the right one and then it was by chance almost. I probably did find the right therapist years ago but i didn't believe what she was telling me and went home every time in tears and detraught. It turned out she was right but I jsut wouldn't listen. You can take a horse to water......
Depression can be caused by a number of triggers, reactionary (sometimes called non-melancholic depression) to an event such as a death, divorce, redundancy etc, chronic clinical depression(major), sometimes depression isn't caused by any particular thing we can think of (endogenous), dysthymia, fantatstically called 'mental water torture' by John McManamy http://www.mcmanweb.com/dysthymia.html , which is not as severe as major depression but carries on for at least 2 years and there are more 'bad' days than 'good'.
Depression can be measured by a professional on a scale usually by using the 'Beck' depression scale or HADS (hospital anxiety and depression score) or sometimes the DSM-IV scale although personally I have never been to my knowledge assessed on this scale.
Which ever form you have, which ever severity it will probably be up to you to sort it out. How? Who knows. Not much help eh? Well it was trial and error for me. First, I had to go to my GP to be signed off. As I have said before, they were not the most helpful. You can only sometimes go on what your GP says if you know nothing about your illness, and it is yours. No one elses. Everyone is different. Do your research so you know what optuions are available. If you feel up to it. If you don't, then you are probably suffering quite a major depression (that is not meant to replace a diagnosis, merely advice) anyhow you need help.
Your GP might be reluctant to sign you off especially if there is not a 'cause' for your illness but insist if you feel it will help just that little bit until you can get some other help in place. Don't go into hiding if you are signed off. Use the time to get the help you need. Be around friends who are gentle with you and won't judge you. Do things that make you feel a little better. A magazine? A coffee at the coffee shop? A sleep? Try and avoid comfort eating, alcohol and overuse of caffeine. No need to tell you, it's a no brainer eh? It won't help only cause more destress in the long run. Try not to go out comfort spending either that won't help unless you have loads of money. Getting into debt will not help either. When you are well, and you will be, you don't want a mountain of debt to clear and 2 stone to lose. Alcohol just gives you hangovers and anxiety attacks and you don't want to develope a dependence either.
I have continual cycles of over spending and then paying it off and I go through phases of eating too much and then having to lose the weight and sleeping too much, which is a real pain in the ass when there's things to be done. Sometimes I can't drink alcohol at all, this is usually when I'm coming in or going out of a major depression. I have melancholic depression with bouts of major depression thrown on. I'm a great person to be around!!
Seriously, one thing which saved my life and turned it around is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I still use the techniques even when I feel really low. Thanks to CBT there is always hope now. Always. I used a CBT workbook which really helped and my therapist was fantastic. Sadly she has moved on now and access to her is not possible. I know there will be good days. I know it because I have felt them. I use medication because it helps my symptoms. But it's not for everyone. But don't give up at the first hurdle. Give them chance to work and if they don't work try another one (some drugs are now consultant only prescription and sadly not everyone unless you beg or are really ill will you have access to psychiatry).
Above all, accept things and don not give in to it.Ever.