I had a dark period of depression for just over two years, not that I knew it at the time. It had become the norm to feel dead behind the eyes, empty, numb and generally dire at all times. My weekends would involve a breakfast of crying followed by a coffee and cry for lunch, a long sleep on the sofa to forget I was even there, then a dinner of tears and a sob to sleep. It was bleak.
I had suffered a dreadful heartbreak months before which left me crushed internally and unable to feel anything. It was also a major factor in my decision to give up my career as a singer and songwriter. I was so twisted with pain I physically couldn't sing, plus there were only so many songs I could write in that state, "He's left me, I'm DEAD!" My passion had abandoned me along with my inner spirit that normally lifts the room, instead - I couldn't leave my room.
While I was aware that something wasn't right, it took a hit of gastroenteritis which I carried on with oblivious for two weeks, followed by a serious bout of face swelling glandular fever which left me unable to move, and my Mum spoon feeding me in order to say - enough! I could almost handle the emotional deadness of depression, but seeing my face look like a puma was too much for me.
I took the plunge and saw my doctor. Speaking to someone honestly about how I felt on a daily basis made the floodgates of frozen emotion race out like a tidal wave, and there it was - I was depressed. I explained the feeling of having a pair of hands crawl up my back and press down on my shoulders, that's how I saw it in my mind so I could identify what 'it' was. But as I spoke to her, I also felt utter relief for the first time in years. As I left the surgery and walked home, I felt alive and present. I smiled, I breathed the fresh air - I felt semi normal again, just from talking. A session with a brilliant therapist followed, and by the time the session was over he told me to, "Get out of here!" as I was fine. By opening up to my doctor then him, he explained how I was one of the 'lucky' ones who reach the bottom, realize it, then bounce back up. My god, I was lucky. I left him and never looked back, and as quick as my recovery was, I will never forgot the feeling of those hands on my back, no escape seemed possible.
In a matter of days I noticed the colour return to my cheeks and a sparkle to my eyes - I looked like me again! That period of my life stays with always. It makes me feel equipped to deal with anything, anything. After feeling like you're a spec of dust waiting to be swept away, you just don't sweat the small stuff - it does not matter. A break up, a crappy day, a job loss, or being unable to make rent, they all pale into the background after you've experienced depression. I feel the strongest possible version of myself due my depression and I wouldn't change it for the world. Who knows who I would be without? Would I really know what pain was? How would I cope with everyday things that seem to drive sane people to tears? I don't know. I do know however, that an open honest attitude to mental health is essential to helping others with depression.
I didn't tell my family or colleagues about my therapy, only a few select friends at the time were aware, as I knew there would be that look of 'there's something wrong with you'. Narrow minds would pop me into a catorgory and harp back to it anytime I felt a bit off colour, so why share. That was over ten years ago for me, and thankfully I feel the stigma attached to having depression is massively diluted today. Indeed some of the most wonderful creative minds have fallen victim to the illness, and come away for the experience, like myself, mentally richer for it.
I also know, that it doesn't matter what someone says to you to try and help. The best will in the world can't shake the feeling of helplessness, but if we do keep talking about mental health, openly, proudly and freely without fear of others labelling suffers, it will help.
Since my depression I have lived my life by the law of attraction, and I can honestly say I feel happy every single day. That's not to say I don't get pissed off from time to time, but ultimately, it just doesn't matter. People often ask me how I am so genuinely happy and positive all the time, and my answer is beating depression - nothing will ever be that bad again, or so valuable to the fabric of me.