The D word
Jenny talks us through the process of her depression and the support that worked best for her, talking to her friends.
Getting up to go to college; an alarm rings, eyes open. Brain and body are fully awake and aware of the fact that in missing another tutorial, 25 % of the next essay automatically goes down the drain.
But really, what does that matter? What good is attending going to do for anyone? What’s the point?
In getting out of bed, I’m facing the turmoil of choosing an outfit to wear and doing my makeup so I can look people straight in the eye without cringing away from them.
Making sure I don’t eat too much cereal so I won’t end up feeling fat and unattractive for the remainder of the day.
I’m packing a similarly budgeted lunch, and deciding whether to walk and face the danger of being late, or cycle.
This is risking arriving windswept and sweaty, a surefire way of destroying any self-confidence I’ve built up in controlling my cereal intake for the day. This is all before leaving the house.
Not to mention the bleak thoughts of the steadily growing list of readings and assignments that are left un-ticked in my day planner, and the explaining I have yet to do for being absent yesterday too. It won’t matter.
They won’t actually care if I’m not there. I roll over in bed and my brain goes blank, as another few hours of hazy sleep fall like a thick sheet of fog, dimming out the looming importance of any appointments or deadlines I have to meet today. What is the point?
This scene may seem familiar to a vast amount of people. Yet its frequent recurrence and increasing interference in various aspects of life could mean there is more in question than sheer laziness.
In fact, it would be somewhat distressing and offensive for such a person if you were of that opinion. Constant lethargy and negative mindsets are but a few of the gloomy symptoms of something more destructive than many choose to believe.
Depression. It’s a word that even still for me, after nearly three years of straining to understand it, to conquer it, to master it, still conjures up a blurred outline of a faraway problem that I shouldn’t ever have to deal with or worry about.
It’s a real, overwhelming, confusing, and downright inconvenient thing to suffer from. Over the last two to three years, I have experienced lows of mood and self-esteem that have incapacitated me both physically and mentally.
This has been affecting various aspects of my personal and educational life, and in their irritating regularity and consistency, become more and more a part of my everyday life.
The intensity of depression and the conditions surrounding it differ for everyone. For some it is a mere difficulty in coping with the circumstances they find themselves in, for others it is a more inverted, intricate vendetta against their own persona.
An irrational dissatisfaction with themselves, characterised by self-esteem so low that it is often difficult for them to function normally within society.
Far too often it goes unnoticed, untreated, and unacceptable as a possibility by not only the sufferer themselves, but their family and friends alike. But it can be managed.
Talking, one of the most important ways to manage depression and can be seen as a kind of mental exercise, an internal form of physiotherapy, that pushes the mind to its limits and improves its capacity for pain and healing, and also coping with a previous injury.
I consider myself among the lucky ones, with a supportive network of friends to whom I can talk, and more often than not, cry to on a bad day. It’s often the last thing I intend or want to do, and even though I always feel guilty after expressing myself to a friend who isn’t professional.
Someone who isn’t getting paid to listen, and who hasn’t got a neatly timetabled slot to meet with me in this café to discuss the internal workings of my brain purely because I have so many thoughts I can’t handle them all myself, it is always, always appreciated afterwards.
Getting clarity of thought
What I’m trying to achieve by writing this story I’m not entirely sure. In a way it’s almost to clear my own head and give me something to focus on for a few hours, yet in another, it’s an attempt to allow people to comprehend the internal realities and difficulties of depression.
I decided to write, maybe to let people know they’re not alone, maybe to show people that the struggle to get through each day is something that can be lessened, and it can be made easier, maybe just purely to try and understand my own thoughts and put some structure to them. I’m really not sure.
When people say “it’ll get better with time”, however cheesy it may sound, it’s true. But it’s not the time that heals you. It’s yourself.
It’s your own head, being given a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for you. Being given time to try and sort out and process the hundreds of thoughts that float through your head a minute.
What may seem like an impossible struggle one day, beginning an essay or even just leaving the house in the morning, become only after a time of suffering from depression, something you are aware of having to overcome. You come to recognise patterns in your own mood.
You realise what your triggers are, and often can even notice a bad spell coming on.
Talking to someone
Humans are sociable creatures; we thrive on our interaction with others, not on our own individual thoughts. Make the effort to talk to someone, write something down, get up and make yourself do something you used to love, something you’d forgotten.
It’ll make all the difference in your day-to-day life, and you may even find that you’ll enjoy it.
Just know that depression CAN be beaten. I’m not quite there yet, but I’ve finally come to the understanding that it’s not all about medication and isolating yourself to avoid talking about it.
By talking through it all with a few people I’ve come to understand that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
It’s about understanding yourself and your own thoughts – not unlike figuring out what kind of clothes best suit you, or what kind of product works best for your hair- and implementing things that prove positive for them into your life. This story is in itself an example of that.