Readers, I know it’s been a long time, but I’d like to think I come back whenever I have something useful or important to say. Today I want to talk to you about something that directly affects me, and a lot of people, most people, in fact, around the world, in various degrees and in various ways. I want to talk to your about mental illness, more specifically, about depression. I don’t think that mental illness as a whole is something I can tackle, when I’ve only experienced this part of it, but it’s important, so here goes.

About five months ago, I saw this video:

Once I’d seen it and soaked it in, something fell into place. I realised that I needed help, and I asked for help, and it was okay. The world didn’t fall apart, nobody thought I was stupid for doing so, and nobody thought I was making up my problem. So here’s my experience with depression, and my advice for taking steps in the right direction.

So many people on the internet – myself included – talk about depression, about mental health, about experiences, solutions and reasons. I’m going to try and explain to you how I felt when I went through it a while back. I’m not saying I’m cured, because it’s still something that I’m going through. Still, I feel like a different person than I did then, and even though there are large periods of day to day life that I just can’t even remember, large blanks as it were, I still remember how it felt. It did not feel good.

Everyone has down days, and everyone uses the word ‘depressed’, most of the time without the full weight of it behind what they’re saying. Depression isn’t just feeling down, it’s feeling awful, all the time, and this constant grating fear that, when you’re not feeling quite so horrific, you’re going to crash down even lower than you were before. There’s no way to really understand it until you experience it, and even then, it’s different for every person. For me, it got to a point where I just couldn’t handle the way I was feeling any more, and I knew I needed help.  When I realised this, I went to see my doctor as soon as I could, and asked her for help. There are no words for how much healthcare in this country has helped me, and I could not be more grateful to my doctor for helping me with my depression.

Ask for help: I only began to feel better about myself when someone helped me to. You should not deal with these things alone. The people who love you will be there no matter what, and there are people out there whose job it is to help you. You are allowed to ask for their help and not feel stupid for it, and asking for someone’s help is probably the best thing you can do. Mental illness, depression, is a legitimate illness, and you deserve to get better. Counselling works for some, medication works for others, and it’s something that’s always worth trying. Tell someone what you’re going through, someone you trust, whoever that might be, it will help you in some way, even if it’s just to validate how you’re feeling and say it aloud.

There’s another side to the coin though. If you’re on the other end, if you’re one of the people who’s worried about someone, make sure you know the person really well. Be able to see through that mask that people often wear, when they pretend they’re okay. That’s the hardest part I think… then just being there to listen. Showing them you care and they’re not worthless. Sometimes “I just don’t want to talk about it.” is a start. There isn’t always a logical reason to feeling awful, that’s a big one to understand. It might not make any sense to you, but try and understand that it might to them.

I’m not sure I have much more that’s helpful to add to this, so I’ll stop it there. As always, questions, comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you next time.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute medical advice, please see your GP should you require advice from a healthcare professional.

Photo Credit: Helga Weber via Compfight cc