Tag Archives: depression

Coming out about depression 2

Last week I was unsure whether or not writing about my experiences of depression was wise or not. I received many messages, both public and private from friends, family and colleagues wishing me the best, offering support and advice, and sharing their own experiences of depression. I am so thankful for all these messages. I would best describe it as a relief. Having gone public I plan to write a blogpost every so often, but I won’t be making this “John’s depression blog”.

One thing I understand for sure about depression is that everyone experiences it differently. You can’t tell if a person is suffering from depression just by looking at their demeanour. Last week many others came forward to tell me about their experiences of battling depression, anxiety and addiction. Like me, they don’t come across as depressed or unhappy. And perhaps like me the ‘darkness’ is not a 24/7 experience.

So why did it take me so long to a) seek treatment and b) start telling other people about it.

On the face of it these are separate questions, but in one respect they both have the same answer. I really believed that if I was ever diagnosed professionally as having depression I would be signed off work and become unable to cope with everyday life. And if others knew I was depressed it would become my main identity. I suppose this is part of the anxiety element. The prospect of being unable to work is not just a financial issue for me, but central to my sense of self. Some say that having too much of your identity invested in work is a big problem, but maybe I’ll write about that another time. Either way these fears are irrational. Recognising that you have a condition doesn’t suddenly make it worse.

I genuinely believe my depression to be fairly mild, but that does not mean it is not a problem. In the back of mind I almost felt the fact I was able to function at work meant it wasn’t proper depression.

My only real advice to anyone feeling depressed is to seek professional help. I’m one of those people who finds it difficult to talk about my feelings. Being a bad patient is also part of the problem—I never really told the doctor how I was really feeling. We all need to remember that doctors are not mind readers.

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Coming out about my depression

I have been thinking of writing this post for some time. I’m still not convinced of the wisdom of writing it, but I have been suffering from depression for some time and been taking anti-depressants for the past year. Most of the time I am able to cope, but occasionally I enter periods of what I can only describe as deep darkness. Those who know me or follow my blog will know that that work has been difficult over the past couple of years. The closure of the subject centres, being re-interviewed for my job, and having my hours reduced have taken their toll, but my struggles with depression pre-date these events. I’ve told very few people about my struggles. I think I’m actually quite good at hiding my depression. The medication I am taking is actually for anxiety rather than depression – my doctor even said to me “I don’t think you’re depressed”.

I am fortunate to have a very loving wife and family as I go through this process. I am grateful for my job and enjoy my work. As far as I know I am performing well at work. I have been keeping very busy and am working on some interesting projects. I am fortunate to work with really nice people. I have a strong Christian faith. Working four days a week has enabled me to set up my open access research website and take on some freelance work, which has been very enjoyable. It all sounds very nice and it is, but as anyone who has suffered from depression knows none of these things guarantee good mental health, and many face depression without any help.

There seems to be a lot of talk about depression on the radio and TV at the moment. I’m not sure whether this is due to the recession, heightened awareness of the condition or whether it is just heightened awareness on my own part. I’m not sure what the consequences of ‘coming out’ will be, but I feel that it is time to stop hiding what I am going through.

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