Trying To Understand My Depression
It's hard to see positivity in times of depression. It sucks the happiness and enjoyment from everything you once loved. The most menial tasks seem pointless and a waste of time. Stay in bed all day and not shower? Yeah, why not?. Cancel on plans I've made? Fuck it, no one will miss me!
I believe my depression came from the severity of my anxiety as I got older. A side effect almost and it took me to rock bottom, well rock bottom for me, the lowest point I had ever found myself and at times I never thought I would get through those periods and even when they happen now.
The first 18 years of my life I had more or less been on the same trajectory as everyone else. I had a paper round at 14, my first part-time job at 16, went on to the sixth form and then university. I had played football at a fairly high level and been involved in a variety of different sports. I was always a high achiever and I wanted to achieve more, I wanted to do more and be the best at everything I did and to go from that guy, to this person I no longer recognised, was difficult to come to terms with.
The first time I noticed it happening was when I was at university and I started noticing the panic attacks and the only reason I noticed them was because of how bad they were. Looking back I had been having panic attacks for years on a daily basis with no idea what was going on, these ones couldn't go unnoticed and they scared me. They left me low and vulnerable for days and even weeks at a time. I resorted to staying in my room, not going out as often, not seeing people, not sleeping, eating crap.. you get the picture, my quality of life was deteriorating. Initially, it was from something out of my control, then due to not knowing how to cope and falling into bad habits that quickly became my lifestyle.
I actually dropped out of university. That's still hard to say even three and a half years later. The anxiety and panic became so bad I found it so difficult to attend my course and with no one there to make me go and push through it, I gave in. These days I tend to look at the positives that I never really wanted to be an Engineer and I got out before wasting another two years studying for a career I may never have ended up working in. Either way, I dropped out and I came home.
It seemed the best option at the time. Being back home where I was comfortable. The pressure of uni wouldn't be there amongst other things and being able to see my GP and also being in Derby where I had self-referred to the talking mental health team. However coming home didn't have quite the desired effect I wanted it to. Coming home meant entering the real world. Going into full-time work as well as the anxiety and panic attacks I ran myself into the ground and within months I was signed off by my GP and on antidepressants.
From there on it became a vicious cycle, two weeks in work, two weeks out of work until I had to drop down to part-time to make it slightly easier for me. I had minor success with therapy and not much success at all with the medication. The medication gave me so many side effects and if you've taken medication before you know it takes a few weeks to get in your system and to start working. Well, those few weeks each time for me was hell. My anxiety got worse, I was constantly depressed amongst a variety of other side effects and often I couldn't last long enough taking them and gave up. I became worse, I found myself unable to leave my bed for days at a time, my memory went to shit and I didn't recognise myself anymore. I hated this person the tablets made me but eventually I found a medication that was bearable enough at the start and then took the edge off of my anxiety.
As time went on I started to get my life back together. With less anxiety present in day to day life I picked up a second job, started going out more, worked on my friendships, relationships became easier and my quality of life was improving and it just kept getting better.
I left my two part-time jobs and started my first full-time salary job with better hours than I been working in retail and the catering industry and things were going well. I went abroad for the first time since I was about 16. A year earlier the thought of getting on a plane wasn't even a possibility but I managed it with only a small amount of difficulty. I was happier in myself and looking to make up for lost time and progress and change jobs to make more money and that's exactly what I did.
I was doing well. Very well for saying where I had been a year prior. I was off medication, not in therapy and just getting on with life as if I had never been through any of it apart from the minor amount of anxiety most people go through. That might be a bit of a lie it was still more than most people will ever experience but it was manageable for me. What wasn't manageable was the periods of depression that started to come from out of nowhere. The first time was last summer (July 2017) I had been to Newquay for the weekend with my brother and best mate and on Monday I was supposed to start a new job, unfortunately the depression kicked in after returning home Sunday evening and after a traumatic and stressful morning with several stop-offs at restrooms on the way to my first day, I sat outside in tears and couldn't bring myself to go in, I didn't care, I was empty, I was suffering but I made a decision and I was going to live with it.
Luckily enough I bounced back out of the depressive episode within a few days and by the end of the week I had an interview, was offered the job the following day, closer to home so less travel involved and it was for considerably more money as well. Not a bad bounce back at all.
I thought it was a small hiccup. I usually noticed the deterioration of my mental health in the past but this time was different, I didn't notice anything and it had been way over six months since anything similar had happened. Either way, I put it behind me and carried on as if it had never happened.
Fast forward two months and the new job started getting stressful. Things started becoming inconsistent and lots of changes were taking place which brought on the anxiety which I had managed to keep under control for so long. I even went as far as voicing my opinions of how all the changes, that were only happening to a select few of us, were affecting me and my mental health (I had been open with them before starting the difficulties I had faced) but nothing changed till it all got too much.
The days became longer, the job became harder, my anxiety got worse, my mental health deteriorated, I stopped enjoying the things I once had, I started drinking a lot, I stopped exercising, I found myself on the edge of tears in the toilets multiple times a day, I was detached, unable to interact with people, unable to understand what was going on, I was far from my usual self and it got too much. I kept pushing through but it wasn't getting better and as I had a couple years before I ended up signed off work and back on the same medication just as my probationary period at work was coming to an end.
The time off work did nothing, I would go back for a week and then off for another two and then it all came to an end. My time off work was unsalvageable, the damage had been done and they wouldn't offer me a full contract based on my absences. Although instead of taking the dismissal, without directly saying it, they told me to leave on my own terms to save me having to declare I was dismissed at future job interviews, I suppose having a good relationship with the people you work for comes in handy and that was it I decided to leave.
I didn't plan on being out of work for long, I imagined picking up some part-time work to tie me over and take it from there but this time things didn't work out. The antidepressant that had worked the first time, was making me worse. I can't even remember if I was anxious, I was just incredibly depressed, it didn't matter what I did or where I went, it followed me, I couldn't escape it and that's when I reached my lowest ever point over this last Christmas (December 2016 - January 2017).
At that lowest point I'd had enough, life wasn't worth living, I wasn't quite ready to give up but I couldn't see a way out and so I stopped the medication. The antidepressant which was supposed to be helping me had been making me worse. Within days I started to feel slightly better but everything I'd been through was taking its toll. I still wasn't in a good place and I realised it was going to be a slow process getting back on my feet and this year has been my toughest yet.
I never imagined being out of work because of my health and having to sign onto ESA to try and get by and even then getting myself in money problems because more money was going out with bills needing to be paid and not enough coming in. I was so low and I didn't care. I wasn't in any position to go back to work and I was struggling to get through day to day life and complete basic menial tasks. I was having good days and bad days, not getting out of bed for days on end, trying to get back on my feet and then out of nowhere being knocked off my feet and back at square one. I was back in therapy, private this time, and that wasn't really helping. The NHS was failing me leaving me on waiting lists for months and months without hearing anything. I ended up going private to see a psychiatrist and at the moment looking privately for another hypnotherapist/therapist.
The depression has been present on and off this last year and currently on today as I write this. My depression at the moment seems to be a side effect once again from the severity of my anxiety however only a few months ago I was in a constant state of depression thanks to another antidepressant which helped reduce my anxiety tenfold but left me low and depressed.
There's very little consistency to any of it and that makes not only getting your head around it difficult but trying to live a normal life almost impossible. I'm trying my best to maintain some kind of routine and I'm always slipping up, taking a few steps back and beating myself up but I'm learning. I'm learning again to push on and push through rather than throwing in the towel. From where I was a year ago I'm a million miles away but from where I was six months ago, I'm doing so much better.
I may never understand any of it fully. Sometimes my anxiety takes over and becomes a focus and other times the depression takes over and becomes the focus and I have no idea why. I have no idea why I go through good periods and why I go through bad periods.
One of the hardest parts is pulling yourself out of a depressive episode. There are levels to how bad I feel, sometimes I may feel low and something as simple as going out and doing something I enjoy, even when every fibre in my body is telling me not to, I can naturally lift myself out of it. Then there are these other times where I drop below a certain threshold and it's almost game over. Nothing is touching it. No matter what I do I'm not escaping it. I will lie in bed for hours staring at a wall, maybe my eyes are closed but I can't sleep. Time is passing but I'm feeling nothing but emptiness. I can't bring myself to talk to people or respond to texts. Even turning the TV on it out of the question. I'm numb until it lifts. Then life can resume and I can start to slowly bring myself out of it wondering what the fuck happened and hoping I don't end up there again.
I've learnt to live with it, kind of. It has made holding a job down very difficult especially the last few years. It has tested my relationships with my family and friends. It has affected my life in ways I never thought it could have. Even getting help is difficult but I am trying. I don't want to live this way. I never asked for any of this and I certainly wouldn't wish this upon anyone else.
The more I go through it, the more I realise it may never go away. I may never understand it and I'm just going to have to learn new and better ways to live with it.
Thank you for reading :)