So I’m digging out some of my old blog posts that I had saved and re-posting them……
If I’m honest, what I’m about to write makes me think back to the days when I first came out. Though, this feels like a 100 times worse. And that is something that really needs to change in our society.
Two years ago I was diagnosed as suffering from low mood and anxiety, that’s just a politer way of saying depression. To date, only a select few people have known that as in my head I saw it as a sign of weakness on my part, a flaw in my character. Deep down I knew this was not the case, but its taken a long time for me to allow myself to accept that it is a disease. It’s something I am never ever going to be cured of, but I have learnt how to cope with it and minimise its effects.
I know it’s a cliche to say “unless you’ve suffered it, you don’t know what its like” but that really is true. A video on YouTube from the World Health Organisation probably best describes how it feels to live with depression, a black dog constantly in your life demanding you pay attention to it.
I have had days when even a simple thing such as updating a spreadsheet or presentation could reduce me to tears. The thought of attending or hosting a conference call would cause me to physically shake in fear. The urge just to go back to bed and switch off has been a constant one, and two years ago I would just give in – sleeping was the off switch and that was my go to when my head got the better of me. But over the course of the past two years I’ve attended both group sessions and one to one counselling sessions. I have a toolbox of skills now to help me keep my head in the now and the Black Dog at bay, and met other people who are in the same situation as me.
I have been truly lucky on my journey – having amazing friends who were there just to listen to me when I needed to rant or cry down the phone; friends there to encourage (but not force!) me to get out and remember what is out there; and a team at work who have been supportive to let me fit my sessions around my job. But not everyone is that lucky. Because of the negative stigma attached to depression – that its a weakness, “you are just being lazy”, “just cheer yourself up” – people hide or do not acknowledge they are suffering and do not seek help.
As a society we need to change this – and hopefully one day that stigma will be gone. And the only way to do that is to start talking about it – simple things such as ensuring you know how to recognise the symptoms and where to go for help, education in both schools and at work to show there is nothing to be ashamed of.