My Struggle with Depression
January 22, 2019
Before I begin, let me first say that this is probably one of the hardest and most personal things I’ve ever had to write, yet one I’ve wanted to share for some time now. This will probably strike a few people the wrong way, but I aim to be as open and honest with you all and if there are some people who suffer from depression reading this post, I hope to be able to help in some way possible.
I don’t look like someone who suffers from crippling depression. Not just on Instagram to those I’ve never met before, but even to my closest friends. After confiding in a few people, it really took them aback. I’ve worked so hard to put on a brave face and not let others see my sufferings and, therefore, I had everyone fooled. A defense mechanism some might say.
How it began:
My first experience with major depression came when I moved to Chicago in 2010 for my first job after having just graduated from university. Whilst accustomed to having moved my whole life and starting fresh in new cities, there was something very different about this move. It might’ve been the isolating nature of my distance to everyone I knew back home, or the terribly miserable winters, or the fact that I truly wasn’t passionate about my job, or all of the above and then some! After months of suffering, I found myself visiting a doctor and explaining that I couldn’t stop crying, my motivation was waning, and I found it difficult to conduct work or socialize properly. He confirmed I did indeed have depression and sent me home with some antidepressants. Ultimately, these pills didn’t work for me. I ended up quitting my job (before the next winter hit!), moving back home, and changing my lifestyle in hopes of fixing my mental state.
Depression seemed to subside at this point and I didn’t experience it again (severely) until the beginning of 2017. It was triggered again due to a few reasons but one of the the biggest being that I was working from home (I had been for 3 years at this point) and not socializing much outside of work travel, workouts in the evening and the occasional hangout with friends.
Symptoms of depression:
Whilst everyone has varying degrees of symptoms, my own also fluctuate drastically. There are times when I’m the bubbly, happy girl you all see (& that typically comes from surrounding myself with people I love) and then there are times when I’m terribly depressed, can’t face the world and just hide in my room. Sometimes I’m depressed but cover it up when around people and disguise the pain I’m suffering inside. I’ve encountered times when I think I’m beating it after all, and it can come back out of the blue and really turn my day upside down. It’s a debilitating condition and really pushes me into a black hole when at its most severe.
Whilst Eddie, my husband, has been THE rock in my life throughout this awful journey, it wasn’t fair to burden him with taking care of me. Searching for the right avenues to get better were necessary for a speedy “recovery” and to keep our marriage healthy. Below are the avenues I’ve taken to get better and ones I wholeheartedly recommend to those in need.
I began consistent therapy in 2018 and have found it to be the most wonderful and helpful tool for battling my depression, anxiety & panic attacks. I would highly recommend this to anyone who has access. I feel like a different person when I leave each session and always look forward to the next one each week.
Whilst not consistent in the slightest (still working on this), it has helped calm my thoughts, reduce my anxiety and ground my emotions. It’s a great way to slow down, think clearer and destress. Currently I do guided meditations with the Headspace app and couldn’t recommend it more!
I aim for 4-5 times a week where possible. Endorphins really do help – just listen to Elle Woods! You can read about my current fitness routine here.
Less sugary snacks, more veggies. When I work out I want to eat well, when I eat well I feel better, so keeping that a priority helps elevate my wellbeing.
Getting out of the house! Because working from home can be so isolating, depressing, and lonely, getting out even to grab coffee or walking at lunchtime for a change of scenery really helps lift my spirits. Anyone who works from home will understand the loneliness that comes from no contact with the world except briefly in the evenings. This has been the toughest lesson for me thus far and I’m still struggling to find the right balance.
Caveat: Socializing IN PERSON is imperative for me and reducing my time spent on social media really helps. It’s common knowledge that some people can struggle with social media and I’ve been one of those people for years now (the number of times I’ve gone off and come back on these platforms is a testament to my unstable mental health and inability to handle the pressures of it all). But I say all of this because I get the sweetest messages from people on Instagram and Facebook (particularly people I’ve never met before) who compliment things I do or how I look or who ask me wonderful questions about how they can also achieve XYZ interest. And whilst this is the exact reason I started Simply Saffy (to have a positive influence especially with all things ethical and sustainably) I don’t want others comparing their lives to mine and thinking that mine is perfect. Yes, I recognize that I am very lucky and have a wonderful life with a damn near perfect husband, but there is so much I struggle with that I don’t share and have thought it unfair not to bring light to those areas.
After putting everything above into action and taking the right measures to better myself, I still wasn’t quite getting to the mental state I needed. Eventually, my therapist recommended I also see a psychiatrist to get a prescription for antidepressants. Initially reluctant (due to my previous negative experience), I succumbed and have found that they have worked wonders and incredibly quickly at that! My psychiatrist told me to view them as a “crutch” for getting better. They’ll help get me on my feet again as I sort my life out and make the other changes necessary to get healthy. I can happily say that I’m very grateful I listened as I’m feeling the happiest I’ve felt in a few years. Yes, I still have awful days/weeks, but I’m much better off than I was just 6 months ago. For this, I am grateful for the earnest recommendation from my therapists after a valiant attempt at just counselling.
Road to Recovery:
I’m dedicated to getting happy and healthy again. It’s a long journey, I know, but I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Life is too short to be driven by social pressures, corporate expectations and forced ideals that don’t bring joy. I vow to search for the joy in small, simple things each and every day.
This post is to clearly show that I am not perfect and that my struggle with mental health affects me every day – I just haven’t exposed it to the world… until now. I’ve benefitted greatly from others speaking out about their struggles and I hope to be able to shed a little light onto my world for others to understand the complications of this awful beast. I hope to continue to show you how I’m actively working on my mental health (if this is something that would be of interest to you??) because it has become a primary life mission of mine – alongside living as sustainably as possible.
If you’ve made it this far down – THANK YOU!
I’ll try to keep the rest of my posts as upbeat as possible but definitely more realistic now that the cat is out of the bag – so to speak. 🙂
Love (as always),