My name is Drew Gibson. I'm 26 years old and suffer from depression. For many, depression emerges from the ashes of a traumatic event. Perhaps the death of a loved one, or after years of abuse. For me, it was the exact opposite.
I had a sheltered childhood and I'm thankful to my parents for providing me with a platform from which I could excel. I'm a university graduate fortunate enough to work in my chosen profession in a role that's both rewarding financially and personally satisfying. I own my own home, where I live with my loving girlfriend, surrounded by a handful of the very best friends. And yet, I am sad.
My depression manifests as a large ball of darkness constantly weighing upon my shoulders. It speaks to me; never more than a whisper, and yet somehow always the loudest thing I can hear. All too often, it becomes the only thing.
For a long time, I tried to find reason behind how I feel. I'd incorrectly ask myself whether I'd made the wrong life choices, laying the blame on my work or at the feet of the wonderful people around me. For far too long, I'd take the blame upon myself; maybe I was just a bad person that didn't deserve to be happy.
The answer is much simpler; I have depression. It doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care how successful you may be or how kind you are. In fact, the happier you think you should be, the more it can consume you with guilt. What right have I got to feel this way, when so many around me have things so much worse?
I write this for two purposes, Firstly, as a therapeutic exercise to help with my own struggle. It's my act of defiance, a steadfast scream that l will stay silent no longer. One of depression's great lies is convincing you that the very worst thing that could happen is everyone finding out there is 'something wrong' with you. By writing this, I take my depression's greatest weapon away - Fear.
Secondly, I write this as a message to anyone else out there that may be silently struggling. You are not alone, and you do not have to go through this as if you are. Admitting you have a problem does not make you weak. Standing up and acknowledging there is a problem takes such strength, showing bravery and a desire to get better. If that feels like it's beyond you right now, that's fine. Like me, you can start small.
Admitting to myself there was a problem was my first step. Pretending there is not a problem unfortunately does not make it true, no matter how hard you try. Once I'd acknowledged that fact I suddenly realised that it wasn't my depression so much that was making me feel weak, but the fact that I hadn't been brave enough to accept there was a problem.
The next step is to tell someone. Any one person. A family member, a friend, a doctor. Who you tell is less important than that you have told someone. They will be there to help you. You will feel better for reaching out and will likely surprise yourself with what you are able to do. Do not be ashamed. Be proud that you were able to stand up and say "I want to fight".
I can't promise you that things will instantly get better. They're only the first few two steps, but they are the most important ones. They will embolden you to step further. I also can't promise you that everyone will understand. How could they? Depression is a ruthlessly illogical disease that takes our words away. It tells lies with such force and regularity that you begin to believe them. Do not believe the lie that this means that people do not care. I've learnt that they'll do their best to be understanding even if they cannot fully understand.
My biggest fear was that people knowing about my depression would make them think of me as weak, whereas the truth is actually the opposite. Everything I've achieved I've done despite having depression. Often, my achievements have been deliberately in spite of it; a giant V sign to my disease.
One day, I hope to be able to say that I've beaten depression for good. If I've got this far despite my affliction, what could I be capable of free from its shackles? For now I am proud to stand up and say that I am more than my disease and I will not let it stop me. For the first time in my life I am strong enough to stand up and acknowledge my problem. I am not afraid, and you don't need to be either.