Thursday, 3 April 2014

Do or die...

I'm often asked by readers and just friends in general how I deal with my depression. And in all honesty, it's a really hard question to answer. Because I'm not 100% convinced I do. I live with my illness every day. At some point throughout my day depression and/or anxiety will slap me in the face when I least expect it. I guess nowadays it's less of a shock, so I find I'm better equipped to deal with it in comparison to when I first started suffering with the illness. 

First of all, it's important I call my mental health problems an illness, because that's what it is. I have a medical condition that effects the way I cope with things. I'm not just a bit down or blue or even nervous. I am mentally ill. Second of all, by talking about it, in whatever small way, I hope that it de-stigmatises this very serious, and very real illness. 

I started suffering from depression in my early teens. I link it directly to my hormones. It started when my period started. I also link it to the fact I was sexually abused by one of my ex-boyfriends at school (I hope in someway by saying that out loud it helps too). 

It wasn't until my mid 20s that I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder. I had a breakdown and was referred to the crisis team where I was placed under the care of a community mental health nurse who would visit me every couple of days at home until I was assessed fully by the psychiatrist. 

I took medication for a couple of years, and have intermittently until about 2 years ago, but it has never agreed with me. I always feel like a zombie, living half a life and quite frankly, I'd rather have the dark days so I can appreciate the light days instead of living in a constant state of limbo. But that is just me, antidepressants can literally be a life saver for some people. But for me they were a life muter. 

Depression can be a very self serving illness. It puts you in a position of intense self scrutiny and makes you your own harshest critic. It can make you feel insecure about everything and everyone around you and doubt everything that ever felt real to you. It will knock you down when you least expect and keep you down for sometimes very long periods. It is the most crushing illness. It strips you of every inch of you and leaves feeling vulnerable and broken. 

I guess there were a couple of turning points for me. Having Poppy made me realise I couldn't let the illness have such a tight grip on me anymore, because my life was no longer about me. I had to get up in the morning because I had a small thing to keep alive and feed and care for. That's not to say I haven't fallen into its dark pit since I had her, I have quite dramatically and luckily I had my husband there to pick up the pieces. But I do find on a day to day basis being a mum means I don't have as much time for depression to take hold. 

I've also found as the years have gone on I've learnt to live with it, understand it and cope with it better. As mentioned before, because I understand the illness now, its not as much of a shock when it comes knocking on my door anymore. It's still crap, don't get me wrong, but whereas before I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I now know that "this too, shall pass". 

Having my blog has been a saviour. It's my safe place, a place where I get to have fun and dress up and express myself through fashion. Some people see fashion as vacuous and meaningless, but to me it's a life saver. It helps me retain my sense of me, express the way I'm feeling and enjoy that feeling of esteem only a great outfit can bring. 

So how do I deal with depression? I take every day as it comes. I remember that when I'm having a bad day, it's only a day and tomorrow might be completely different. I'm kind to myself, I try and treat myself with the love and respect I deserve. I take less notice of the voices that tell me I'm an undeserving, sub-human, because I know they're lying and I indulge in things that make me feel good. Good friends, good food, good fashion and love. Surround yourself with positive messages and lots of love and don't ever think you are alone. There is always someone willing to lend a shoulder/ear and extend cuddles your way. It might be a stranger on the end of a phone line or a loved one who just needs to know that you need them. 

Always reach out, however hard it may feel, (and it does) reach out. 


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15 comments:

  1. Hugs darling. I absolutely agree that fashion isn't vacuous, it's therapeutic. If I feel crap putting on a bit of makeup & something pretty makes me feel better, and blogging gives me the reason to do that. Whatever makes you feel good!

    You can always talk to me about MH stuff. Any time. xxx

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    1. Thanks Leah, I really appreciate that. Sending you massive hugs back x x

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  2. I think your attitude is the right attitude, I apologise in advance for my ignorance about mental illness but I do feel in my heart that you are a wonderful person and mummy to Poppy, but nobody is perfect, lots of love xx

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    1. Thank you Patty darling, you are such a lovely person x x

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  3. Hi Becky,
    we've had a brief little chat about our similarities in the old head department and reading this was quite surreal, it's as if I'd written it myself!
    I'm not yet as brave as you to share my experiences with the whole world but I try to be as open and public as I'm comfortable with and I have uber respect to you for being so honest and showing our illness in such a realistic light.
    Keep shining my love, I think you're awesome!
    Katy x

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    1. Thanks Katy, you are such an awesome person and I'm glad you identified with my story. Sending you loads of love x x

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  4. Becky thanks so much for sharing, the more of us that speak out about our mental health/illness the better. It needs to be destigmatised and only by explaining how it is to live the experience can we make people understand that it's an illness, like having asthma or thyroid disease is an illness rather than being something scary or dangerous.

    Hugs....
    xxxKate

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    1. Thanks Kate, you're absolutely right. We need to open those avenues of discussion more often x x

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  5. So well said. I am a fellow sufferer for 43 years now. I, too, found that motherhood was a tremendous bulwark against the darkness, though not a total antidote. I am currently trying to help a friend of my daughter who has already attempted suicide once and is on the edge now. It is a helpless feeling of a whole other sort to try to help someone fighting against depression...I am going to share you post with her.
    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi there. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughters friend. It can be really tough to try and help other sufferers, because you have an even more real sense of the pain they are experiencing. It's so nice she has you though. Sending you all loads of love x x

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  6. A great post, and really well written. I have not suffered from this type of depression myself, but have family and a number of friends who do. The more it is spoken about, and people share their experiences, the better it will be understood by others who then can reach out to those who need it.

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    1. Hey Molly, that's so right. The more we talk about it it, the easier it will become for others to understand, and help those who need it x x x

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  7. This post means so much - thank you for sharing! Baby steps xxxx

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    1. My pleasure Lee, and yes, just like I said the other week! Baby steps x x x

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  8. I've been looking through your blog today after seeing you rock some nice outfits and being inspired to splash on a new wardrobe, but you made me cry then. I was diagnosed with major depression disorder at 21 I was happily engaged working and living with my partner. So when I ended up in hospital due to a suicide attempt I was treated by a mental health nurse which I still am it's a very lonely life when no one understands why I don't talk anymore and choose to be reclusive. Your an inspiration to many woman like myself who are still in the dark, to maybe start looking to the light. Keep up the good work and remember only the scary things are worth fighting for...x

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Thank you for your comment, I love reading what everyone has to say! B x