Whilst everything I’ve written so far is true, I’m told that some of it might come across as slightly alarming to the untrained (or un-depressed) eye, so I’m trying to redress the balance a bit. Obviously, having depression is rubbish and I wish periodically that it would just magically disappear, but if that happened I would miss out on the culmination of a lot of things God has taught me since I was first diagnosed.
Cheesy though it be, I have learnt a lot about myself. Bizarrely, before all this I had a disproportionate amount of pride in some aspects of myself (in spite of the opposite being true in other areas), and in particular I found it extremely difficult to ask for help. I didn’t need it – I was a strong, independent woman (this is sarcasm – difficult to convey in writing). Having had my ego completely shattered by the presentation of solid evidence of my human frailty, in the shape of a prescription, I’m now learning to piece it back together with humility. There’s an extremely fine line between being humble and being self-deprecating, and I still spend a lot of time on the wrong side of it, but at least now I know it exists and I can aim for it.
I’ve also had a disarmingly large number of people tell me that they can relate to this or that they have depression too. Which is no fun for them, but encouraging for me in that there are other people not so far away who might understand what I’m rambling on about here, and also moralising in that I have found admitting my struggles helps so it might help these other people too. To those people: it gets better. After that, it probably gets worse again, but not quite so much as the first time, and then it might get better again.
It’s also worth mentioning that however grim things get, I’m used to it now. I generally write in here when I’m at my worst, but a lot of the time having depression is just boring. Things get so flat and grey that I lose the energy to try and find a way out, and so I don’t bother. Then again, feeling so dark has the minor advantage that the only way is up – I know that if I hold on long enough, it will pass. Meanwhile, there are songs and words I’ve found or been given which can reassure me I’m not alone, which is sometimes more helpful than company or even tea.
On all but the worst days, of which I’ve been blessed to have relatively few, there are still things that can make me laugh if I seek them out: puns (Tim Vine, anyone?), my fiancé, alpacas (adorable smiley faces + ridiculous hair) and (with thanks to Miranda Hart) forward rolls, to name but a few. Compared to the pain of anxiety, losing myself in mirth is something I’ve never appreciated more. And, best of all, I (unlike some) have some kind of excuse for any (read: many) hours spent watching baby pandas sneezing on Youtube.
One of the worst things about being depressed is that it takes some serious effort to count my blessings without descending into a tirade against myself about how ungrateful I am for them (which is clearly because I’m a horrible and rubbish person, etc…). Before being depressed though, I was taking them for granted, which really was ungrateful. Most of all, I’m learning to count myself. When I first started mentoring and was given the ‘homework’ task of writing positive things about myself, I wrote them in pencil because pen seemed too permanent. It might still be a while before I can state any of them aloud without sarcasm, but the list has graduated to biro and some of it is even in post-it note form on my mirror; I’m getting there.