Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health problems in the UK.
Everyone feels down in the dumps, sad or low at some time. That is a normal part of life, just as feeling excited, ecstatic, euphoric or generally happy. People sometimes describe themselves as depressed when what they mean is that they are feeling a bit down.
Depression is where these feelings are severe, or long lasting.
When symptoms go on for more than a couple of weeks, or if a person feels suicidal or has thoughts about suicide, medical help should be sought urgently.
Depression is increasingly common. Significant life events can trigger periods of depression…exam or work stress, family turmoil, or concerns around identity or sexual orientation are all types of thing that can be triggers.
Strangely, one catch 22 symptom/manifestation of depression occurs when one feels depressed without being able to pin-point why. Often, there is a reason, but the mind is in such turmoil or surrounded by such fog that one cannot see those reasons.
Anxiety and depression are strange things. I've often thought it's like lying asleep on the beach. I've woken up. Not only has the tide come in and swept over me, but am actually now in very deep water and about to drown. Another way I've described depression is like an on-coming storm. I'm looking ahead into a sunny, blue sky. Behind me, the sky is black. By the time the wind is howling about me and the rain is lashing down, it's too late to seek shelter and I'm drenched.
I've never been able to work out how to dry out. Ok, so sometimes, I've been drier than others, but I've always been a wee bit damp.
Stigma is depression's favourite bed-fellow. I find it very difficult to vocalise my sadness, depression or anxiety. I become embarrassed, sometimes squirm. I know by divulging such information, I'm making the listener feel uncomfortable. This discomfort only adds to my own and the whole thing snowballs - so it's best to say nothing at all. A problem shared is not necessarily a problem halved.
On a similar note, I'm sometimes aware that I'm surrounded by so many problems or tasks that in attempting to manage one, I'm not attending to the others. This causes me stress and dispair, so in order that I don't feel I'm leaving something out or not attending to some task or problem, I'll do nothing, instead. The taks and problems then pile up ever more.
Sometimes, I wish all the stuff would all go away. Not just all the bad, everything, including the good. Life would be so much easier to cope with if nothing actually happened.
What's the answer? A self induced coma?
All this, dear reader, of course, is not to say one can't smile, laugh and enjoy oneself during a bout of depression. I can sometimes be in the deepest of black holes yet laugh more heartily and loudly than ever before, smile more broadly and enjoy events and circumstances like I've never done before. Yes, I may have a short attention span, but getting through something from start to finish, like this blog entry for instance, makes me feel like I've really achieved something and gives me such a good feeling, better than if I was feeling in good spirits and had read War And Peace in a weekend, decorated the house from top to bottom and solved the political crisis in the Middle East.
I don't have a beginning, middle and end to this, but before I close, dear reader, please, if you know someone's depressed, have a wee chat with them and try to say and do things to encourage a wee bit of cheer. Please don't try and change the subject. And be frank. I'm sure it will be appreciated.