When I started this blog I was unsure whether I would blog about depression.
It has been a big part of my life for the last ten years. Having said that, I don’t define myself as a depressed person. If I did, I’m not sure I would be able to enjoy the bits in between. These are the times when I am a confident, happy person with a good sense of humour.
The first time I understood that the feelings washing over me had a name, I was around 22. That said I think I’ve had depression since I was a young teenager. I just didn’t recognise its face.
At that time I was grieving. My dad had died, it was extremely painful. Months went by and I couldn’t lift myself out of the hole I was residing in. I went to see a doctor. He prescribed antidepressants which I decided to try. They made me feel drugged/high. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation, my pupils where huge and I talked way too much.
I was then referred to community mental health services. I was lucky I got a good phychiatrist She didn’t rush into diagnosis or drug treatment. Eventually she diagnosed me with Cylothymia (a mild, rapid cycling version of Bipolar Disorder) and prescribed mood stabilisers.
I am now in my early thirties. I have endured over ten years of unstable mood. I have suffered Post Natal Depression twice (here is a guest post I wrote about PND). I have had ‘talking’ therapies and have tried two different mood stabilisers.
It is a huge challenge to live life like this. To never know what version of myself I will wake up with each morning. Whether I will be down in the dumps, hating myself in the mirror and paranoid about other people’s opinions of me. When I’m well I like myself. I’m sociable and happy, I love to laugh.
I (and my husband), have become much better at coping with my mood swings. I no longer take medication. I’ve recently been discharged from mental health services, pronounced well enough to be dependent on my GP for any help I need.
I think I will probably always struggle with my cyclothymia. That said I will never define myself by it, or live a small life in fear of it.
I am apprehensive about posting this. I am embarrassed by my condition, worried I will be judged as an unbalanced person, I am not. I will post this though because I shouldn’t feel this way. The only way mental health problems are going to lose stigma is if people like me put their hands up and admit “I’ve struggled too”.
So yes “I’ve struggled too” but it’s only a small part of the person I am now.
You shouldn’t be embarrassed in the slightest – I think you deserve a pat on the back: a hug and a well done for putting this out there and raising awareness. And for writing it as it probably wasn’t easy. You are right, it shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet or not mentioned, there is stigma attached to mental health but thee shoudnt be and thanks to people like you talking about it, I think it becomes less stigmatised.
I waffle too much, sorry, but it was, as always, a great read Ella xx
Thanks Jenny, I guess I just didn’t want people to define me by this. That said it is a part of me and I want this blog to be honest. Gosh this writing thing is cathartic isn’t it.
Well done for writing this 🙂 The more people who speak out, the less stigma there will be.
I have never suffered fortunatly, but praise you for speaking out. It’s awareness that counts. My colleague and friend suffered with PND, you can read about that on her blog: http://www.mummy-tips.com/2009/11/me.html
It takes a brave woman to write a post like this, I take my hat off to you my dear. My own mental health experiences are on the whole too painful for me to share but once in a while I do let a bit out in a post. It’s amazing the amount of love and support out there – and the high percentage of mothers and women who have struggled at some point in their lives.
A really lovely post, you have my maximum respect x
Thanks for a lovely comment, really encouraging.
It’s funny that you feel unbalanced when you did all that balancing stuff in the circus. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and yes, writing is very cathartic and liberating so don’t stop. Keep writing, it can be very healing. Big bloggy liberating love to you.
Thanks, funnily enough mental health problems seem to have a higher precedence in the circus arts. Perhaps in arts in general ?
What a wonderful post. You’re so very much not alone and yet, exactly as you describe, on low days, that’s exactly where the swing puts us. Well done x 1 zillion for posting this – if this little response alone is of any use, please take it to mean
1. I’m here because of the subject matter (thanks Brit Mums) not despite it but
2. I don’t think of this as defining someone
3. I’m in admiration of the way that you write about this.
Thanks and I look forward to getting the hang of this blogging/honesty about family life!
Wow a well written post.. I am impressed that you are sharing as I know from experience it isn’t easy.. There are a ton of people that have mental health issues that are ashamed but you have nothing to be ashamed of, its an illness. Are you ashamed of when you get a cold?, its relatively the same, its not your choice and you work hard to live with it so PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK. You live and enjoy life in whatever way you can and know you work hard… You are not defined by ANY illness mental or not… Wishing you well, and Thank you for sharing!
Well done on publicising it. I too have battled with it since my early teens, culminating in severe AND/PND when my son was born nearly 4 years ago. I’m currently med-less, though i’m not sure how long for… (managed 11 months now!)
I have a very understanding husband, a mostly-understanding family but its still a daily battle. I’m currently in the middle of a ‘low’ which happens, but it hurts every time!
Keep strong, keep talking about it, the more we talk, the less stigmatised it becomes!
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, at all. You should be proud of yourself for writing and publishing this post – it is very brave of you. Big hugs to you.
Thanks , it’s really good to get such positive feedback.
Big hugs. Brilliant post. It highlights the fact that we all have ‘mental health’ issues. Its not black of white – you are either mentally well or not. Its a spectrum. I experienced severe antenatal depression and then PTSD symptoms after Little A was born. That was fun. Not. But I can completely empathise with feeling embarrassed about what others think. Actually you come across as a strong, self aware, well rounded person.
Wow thanks , I am , mostly :-). Antenatal depression always seems particularly cruel to me, as pregnancy should be such an optimistic time. Also it seems even less understood than PND. Hope your doing well now.
Great post. You are not alone. I think one of the great things about blogging is discovering how many ‘normal’ people suffer with mental health problems. As for me, I’d say I first suffered depression in my teens. After my last son, things got quite bad and I’m only just crawling my way out of it. I tried to put a brave face on things though and it didn’t quite click that I was perhaps depressed for a little while. I also suffered from quite bad anxiety, awful thoughts would just pop into my head, especially at night. Again, things are only just improving 18 months later and it’s only now I can look back and see how much I was struggling.
You shouldn’t feel embarrassed. It’s very brave to write a post like this, you should feel proud of yourself. I’ve worked in Mental Health for the last 11 years and it’s inspiring to read a post to challenge the stigma surrounding these issues.
Thanks – I suffer from exactly the same illness. Feels a bit lonely most of the time – so your post and revelations have helped! Yx
Such a brave post, it is hard to post about depression, I felt exactly the same posting my PND post but you really should be proud of how well you have coped, the wonderful person you are and the fact you are brave enough to speak out. So many of us suffer, its nothing to be embarrassed about at all. Beautifully worded x
How beautifully worded, Ella. I am a little bit surprised, and sad to hear that you have suffered in this way. The Ella that I remember from school was always happy, always smiling, a real bubbly personality. Well done for speaking out, and for being strong enough to look for a way of dealing with this.
Thanks Helen , most of the time I am smiley and happy and up for a laugh. This is just the other side of the coin, I suppose everyone probably has their dark times. Thanks for reading.
Your post has made me think hard – I wrote a post about my feelings on Monday this week which I would love for you to read and let me know what you think. I have never asked for help for fear of being judged a failure – judged by who I don’t know! By the time I feel low enough to shout for help, I feel fine again, i pull myself together so to speak and get on with it – until the next time. I am so glad you did blog about this because I think it’s really made me think hard about the importance of getting help – I too have dealt with the mood swings for many years. Good luck with your future and thank you x
Hi Sarah, I’m really glad to hear my blog has been useful for you. I actually think there is strength in recognising a problem and asking for help. Good luck.