On 28 December 2011 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. This is a scary sentence for me to write but my depression was one of the main motivators for me to create this blog. I am sharing my story because I hope that it will give readers insight into this disorder, I am also very proud of myself, I was very brave and have improved out of sight since my diagnosis. We have all heard the statistics, one in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness at some stage in their lives so it is important that we understand these illnesses as best we can.
Ever since I moved out of home I have struggled with the day to day running of a home and life in general. I have a fantastic mother, she spoiled me rotten and will do anything I need her to do. She taught me everything that I needed to know to maintain a home and a healthy lifestyle but once I moved out, although I had the knowledge and the ability to do all of these things, I struggled with fitting them in around the rest of my life. This would make me overwhelmed and things as simple as vacuum cleaning, exercising or eating healthy were starting to get me down and becoming difficult tasks. I feel very stupid saying this aloud, I work one full time job, have no children yet I still don't have the energy or self discipline to vacuum clean, that to me is pathetic. There in itself lies half my problem, my self talk and judgement. I am also a perfectionist so when I do these tasks they take me far longer than the average person because they have to be perfect. All of this was easy to hide and didn't give me any major problems except for the feelings of overwhelm, anxiousness and laziness. It was easy still to live my life around this one little hang up.
Things became difficult when I had to face other life problems on top of this, as we all have to from time to time. I couldn't cope with much more and work or relationship problems would send me into a crying, bitching, moaning state that I struggled to get over, this would play on my mind 24/7 and steal my sleep. I just could not cope with life stressors out of the ordinary any more.
Although 2011 was one of the best years for me it was also one the worst. Certain things played on my mind for the entire year and no matter how I tried I couldn't move past them or get over them. I was finding myself reaching for alcohol more often, even when there was nothing to celebrate, I would use alcohol and food as a vice when I was feeling down. As December approached I was feeling worse and worse and I was repeatedly getting colds, flues and viruses that I just couldn't get over. I also had no energy and just wanted to sleep all of the time, I didn't want to go to work any more and struggled to get up out of bed, I just didn't want to do anything except watch TV or sleep. I was becoming more and more negative, snapping at people and generally hating life. Don't get me wrong, I laughed every day and still enjoyed life, my mind was just in the wrong place. Christmas was approaching and I wasn't looking forward to it at all, I couldn't have cared less about Christmas and that is very unlike me.
The night before I went to the doctor I had a minor argument with Alex. It was something stupid like me trying to make him go to bed earlier because I was worried about how much sleep he would get, which yes in hindsight is none of my business. But I didn't give up on that kind of thing, it would stop me getting any sleep and in the end he would shut me out and stay up even later all over me sticking my nose where it doesn't' belong. I didn't get any sleep and ended up crying for half the night (this was becoming a regular occurrence), some of those thoughts that you're not meant to think crossed my mind and right then in the early hours of the morning I decided I had to go to the doctor the next day no matter what.
The next morning I went on the Beyond Blue website and read as much as I could about depression and anxiety and realised I had more of the symptoms than I had expected, (sickness, tiredness, nervousness, sadness, loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, irritability etc). I completed the K10 check-list on the website and received a score of 29 which put me at the top end of being at a medium risk of mental illness, one point off being at a high risk. I burst into tears and went and told Alex what had happened and that I had to go to the doctor. With my family history of depression I knew that if I didn't deal with this now, having children one day would most likely send me into major depression. I booked my doctors appointment and although I was unbelievably nervous I went in and told her, as I swallowed my tears, that I just cannot cope any more and I feel overwhelmed with life. After asking me some questions, she prescribed me anti-depressants and referred me to a psychologist.
You may wonder why I am sharing this story. I haven't told many people about this, as it really is a hard thing to come out and say and I am so much better now than when I was diagnosed that people think I am joking and can't believe it, especially people that aren't extremely close to me. So for family and friends reading this, I am sorry I couldn't tell you to your face but I am fine, almost 100% better, please do not worry about me. You will be pleased to know that my depression is called reactive depression, not the major depression that you more often hear about. It just means I haven't developed the coping skills to deal with difficult situations, it might appear that I am handling them but on the inside I struggle to move past things. I plan to share more on what I have learned about depression and coping skills in the future.