Living With... Depression
Depression is a serious illness. Health professionals use the words depression, depressive illness or clinical depression to refer to it. It is very different from the common experience of feeling miserable or fed up for a short period of time.
Emily is 40 years old, lives in Manchester and is employed in a full time position within a large organisation. Emily talked to GMMH and agreed to share her experiences of depression.
What was the trigger for your condition?
I was 27 years old and following the birth of my first child, I began suffering from postnatal depression. This lasted for two years. I was in an unhappy relationship which contributed to a pattern of feeling depressed. I stopped eating and sleeping properly and this contributed to my anxiety.
How did it affect you?
I felt like I was removed from society and I didn’t want to be around people, even my friends and family. I left my job as it involved a lot of lone working which I found was detrimental to my condition.
My sleep pattern was disrupted and I alternated from not being able to sleep at night to feeling exhausted and having no energy to complete even the most basic tasks. I also lost my appetite and didn’t want to eat. I felt extremely disorientated and this was mainly caused by my anxiety which made everything seem worse.
What did you do?
When I began to suffer from postnatal depression I visited my GP who was extremely supportive and said that my depression could have been caused by a chemical imbalance as a result of my pregnancy.
The GP monitored me and as the depression did not lift he put me on a course of medication which helped to treat my depression.
I was fortunate to have a strong support network of family and friends to help me care for my child when I was suffering as I didn’t have the energy to do it. I also spoke about my suffering to the health visitor who was also extremely understanding and supportive. She told me that there were many other women who also went through the same experience so I was not alone.
I read a lot about depression when I was recovering. I found that professional publications which give facts about the condition were really helpful to me to understand what I was experiencing and to help me make sense of my condition.
How do you feel now?
People who know me now say I am a much happier person than I was when I was suffering from depression. I was a shadow of my former self and didn’t want to socialise or engage with other people. I had to make lifestyle changes in order to help myself. I ended my negative relationship and made sure I ate as well as possible and began exercising and taking pride in my appearance.
I am definitely a stronger person as a result of my experience. I have a lot of empathy for people who are suffering from depression and can spot the signs in others.
I have a positive outlook on life and am more patient and appreciative of everything and I jump at new opportunities rather than waiting for things to happen to me.
I let each bout of depression take its course and don’t feel guilty about it as previously I suffered extreme guilt when I was depressed.
How did you begin your recovery?
It took a very long time. I still have periods of depression today but I know how to spot the signs and I ensure I am eating well and getting enough sleep and I tell myself that I will be ok and I can get through it.
My main recovery tool was to remove the negative things in my life as they were making me unwell and giving the depression a reason to return. My support network really helped me and they helped with my recovery by talking to me.
What advice would you give to people who think they may also be suffering from depression?
My advice would be don’t keep your feelings bottled up, speak to somebody you trust. Visit your GP and ask them for help. Also, be wary of some websites which give other peoples stories and don’t be tempted to diagnose yourself.
You can also visit the depression alliance, which is a registered charity for support and advice. You can get through it and help and support is available for everyone who is affected.
Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter and person, ‘Emily’ is a pseudonym.