An effective way to help reduce stigma and myths about mental health issues is for people to read/hear about first-hand experiences of both their problems and recoveries. I hope that MYH will be successful in encouraging students at the University of York to do this for our own person benefit as well as our community’s benefit.
Before I go on to tell you about my personal experience with depression, I want to remind you that everyone is different and handles depression differently. My story is not necessarily supposed to help you decide what to do or how to recover if you are battling depression, but rather to let you know that you can get better. It is just one person’s story; someone else’s would be completely different.
Having now fully recovered, it feels quite scary looking back at those days. That period of time really is a blur, a thing of the past now – how did I live for so long like that? I can remember being so sad but astonishingly it’s impossible for me to feel that pain again no matter how hard I try to. I can’t even fully imagine being so depressed to the extent that I was.
If I’ve been there before and can’t fully imagine myself in my own shoes now that I’ve recovered, I definitely understand why it is so hard for others to understand depression if they have never experienced it before. It’s one reason why we should share our experiences if we feel confident enough to – to help others understand better.
But there really was once a time when I whole-heartedly, honestly believed I would never recover from my depression. It just made no logical sense to me why it would ever happen. I felt like I had been depressed my whole life; I had even lost sight of what made me depressed in the first place. My depressive thoughts and insecurities would swirl in a circle inside my head: Each time I thought of something that made me sad I would become even sadder, and that in turn would make me sad, and then I would think of something unrelated which made me sad… And so on.
I tried a few things: I sought help and vented about my problems online, made calls to Samaritans, spoke in person to a close friend who was concerned about me, tried the “friends with benefits” thing, received antidepressant drugs, turned to alcohol and attempted to overdose.
For me, none of the above helped. And although it’s not the most inspiring way to blog about a recovery, I’ll be honest and say I don’t actually know what it is that triggered it. In fact, my recovery started without me even realising; one day I was in the shower and started reflecting upon how little I’ve been depressed recently.
I don’t know what day it was, but I think one day I was so low and fed up with being depressed that somewhere inside me I found the inner strength train myself to think more positively. I did begrudgingly throw out/delete a bunch of emotive music with “sad” tones and melodies; I actually strongly recommend this one if you’re someone who likes that kind of music. I began to let myself recover.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that your recovery can start without you knowing it if you let it happen. It might not happen suddenly and you might not feel it immediately, but that is not a reason to lose hope.
Even if you don’t want to believe it, it will go away one day, and you can recover.
From someone who once believed it would never happen.