I'm feeling a bit scared at the moment, you see, depression, for me anyway, always leaves a feeling of fear hanging over me. 'Am I better?' 'Am I just having a bad day or is this the start of another relapse?'
I've suffered from depression since my early teens along with eating disorders, anxiety and self harm. Slowly over time between and general life stresses and circumstances, it got worse and harder to mange alone. So I've been on anti-depressants since my teens. A good decade now I'd say. It took a lot of trial and error to find ones right for me. Some make you incredibly drowsy and not all there, lights are on nobody is home kind of thing, others make you feel worse than ever. Aggression and suicidal thoughts can sometimes take hold over your mind and body.
It's a scary road. You wonder will you ever see the light again but I eventually found the ones right for me, they still make me feel a bit more 'slow' than usual but it's a better side effect than not being able to get out of the bed right?
In the past I've regularly tried to come off them thinking I was 'better' and didn't need them any more only to relapse. The same feelings of despair and gloominess would come back and hit me like a ton of bricks within about a month of coming off my medication fully. Back to not being able to get out of the bed and forcing a smile on my face for the kids sake.
Depression is exhausting. It also knocks your self esteem to an all time low.
Coming off anti-depressants can really mess with your head too and sometimes ends up with bad results because you can't think clearly at all so I learned not to do it again and have stayed on them exclusively for years now.
Since the beginning of January I have been eating better and my mood swings stabilised as well as energy levels being up. I was feeling the best I have done in years so I thought maybe now is a good time to come off them. So I weaned off them and eventually stopped them altogether about 6 weeks ago now.
I was feeling good, really good actually and very proud of my self thinking maybe finally I had shaken depression off for good and could function like a 'normal' person without tablets....maybe my brain imbalance was finally sorted once and for all!
Maybe I've finally 'recovered'
Over the last few days though, I'm thinking I was very naive yet again. My anxiety feels heightened, I'm teary and very tired, generally just not feeling very good in myself mentally and for no particular reason at all?
I am really hoping it's just PMS though and this feeling will pass. I'm probably just nervous and watching myself too closely, reading too much into normal feelings I get when I'm due my period.
There is however, still a little voice screaming 'Yaz, you shouldn't have come off the tablets....it's coming back, damn, it's coming back!! Stop being a martyr and just get back on your tablets you need them to survive, you can't do it without them!!'
Honestly though, I don't want to end up at the start again. Having to go back on tablets. The headaches, the sleepiness and all the other side effects that comes with starting on them again. As well as the long-term effects I was talking about earlier like having slower than normal reactions and not the best concentration. I then feel like I've failed, like why can't my brain just be normal without tablets all my life? But I also don't want to end up in a bad place mentally again, its very very scary and that's what I'm scared of now. It's such a catch 22 situation.
I'm constantly seeing ads on tv or people in magazines along the lines of 'I recovered from depression, so can you' or quotes like 'You can choose to be happy'
These make me feel like crap if I'm honest and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like that when they see things like that. I think these put pressure on people with depression and make you feel like you're not trying hard enough or that you are causing it somehow.
It makes me feel like maybe I'm not trying hard enough to be off tablets and that I'm doing something wrong. I really am trying though. I'm thinking more positively, eating better, exercising more so why am I not 'recovered'. Why am I stuck in this limbo of on tablets, feeling better. Off tablets, feeling disastrous, then back on tablets. It's frustrating.
I feel like I'm going around in circles with depression
I know that it's a chemical imbalance in my brain but I thought tablets over time would eventually 'fix it' along with a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle. Now I just don't know. Maybe some people do recover from depression and never get it again but maybe some people just can't, it's apart of who we are just like a physical illness that can't always be cured like diabetes.
Either way I'm not ashamed to have depression, I'm not ashamed to be on tablets.
I would however like to be one of those people who 'recover' but maybe it's not always possible. Everyone is different after all.
Maybe depression is just part of who you are, a lifelong illness that you learn to manage and cope with whether it be with medication, a healthy lifestyle, meditation or a combination or all three.
Maybe it's time for me to accept I will always have depression but everyone's definition or way of recovering will different.
In the meantime, while I figure out weather this is just a little blip and a general bad mood or not, I will continue to be positive, eat well, exercise and whatever else helps keeps me manage it better.
Best thing any of us can do is look after our mental health in whatever way we choose, whatever helps us keep it under control better.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone or get more information on mental health there are lots of helplines and info out there in both Ireland and the UK such as
08457 90 90 90 * (UK)
116 123 (ROI)