17/05/2018 11:23 BST | Updated 17/05/2018 11:23 BST

The Lessons My Depression Has Taught Me

Depression. It’s not a easy subject but one with stigma and can be very misunderstood. I can be the life and soul of the party whilst still wondering how my family would cope without me if I wasn’t there. I have a great set of friends around me and I laugh lots. I sing (badly) and have people who still love me despite this. I still suffer with depression though. My reality is that I’m bed bound unless someone is with me to help me out of the house and push me in a wheelchair. I have severe epilepsy and have two carers a day.

Last week I reached breaking point and started antidepressants. Suffering is the best way to describe depression, as you really do suffer. You don’t live with it, rather it seeps into your brain as a result of chemical changes and distorts your perspective. Your brain plays tricks on you and makes you believe you are not good enough, that people would be better off without you. I felt like I was a burden and wouldn’t be missed.

Well I’m writing this to say that’s not true. I am loved and I have an illness affecting how I think. I can get better with help. There is so much stigma surrounding depression that we must open up more and talk about it. It affects so many people. When I broke my foot I waited two days before I went to hospital. With my depression it was months before finally I said to my husband I can’t do this anymore, I need help. I went to the doctors and she’d heard it many, many times before. I’m also getting counselling so I’m feeling positive I will get my mental health back. It’s not about rocking in a corner. It’s highs and lows and trying to get through one day at a time. It’s tough to recover from but there is help out there. The first steps are the hardest. Talk to a partner, a friend, anyone. Tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel you can leave the house to see a GP then many surgeries do telephone appointments.

One of the many misconceptions of depression is that you can’t do anything. I can still enjoy company yet have dark thoughts when alone, particularly at night. There are many people who can’t function at all with depression but also people who can put a smile on in public yet curl up into a ball later on. I fall into the latter category. It can be crippling mentally and physically. I just wanted to sleep all the time but ended up with insomnia. A never-ending cycle of not being able to sleep and feeling worse because of it. My antidepressants have now broken that cycle and I feel stronger for it.

Depression is not something to be ashamed of, it is an illness like any other. Let’s be brave and keep talking about it. Mental health shouldn’t be swept under the carpet, it’s too important. I want to stand up and be counted. I am important enough to get through this. It’s a tough subject but if this inspires someone else to get help then it’s worth it.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and is open 24 hours a day.