So the fantastic news and probably the reason I haven’t posted for a while is that I feel better. Not just a little bit better but on top of the world better.
Even now I am a little at a loss of what to write so I will just start with a list of how I did it – how I beat ‘the black dog’ and overcame depression.
1. Talking. I’m still on the NHS waiting list for counselling which is fairly ironic, but I still did plenty of talking to my partner, friends and family which helped enormously. I am a trained councillor myself (I don’t work as one however) and I think that having an understanding of psychology and how counselling works is definitely a string to your bow when fighting depression. There are lots of great books and articles out there. As always I have included some links at the end of this article.
2. SSRIs. I was against them before but gave them a go anyway and this time they worked! The key was choice. Before when I was prescribed them I felt that I was being forced into taking them – I was scared, suspicious and skeptical. This time around I decided to try them and I felt in control. I did lots of research and read medical reports to understand what they would do to my body and how I could use them as a tool – as a weapon to beat depression.
3. CBT. Again it takes months to get this in the NHS but all the info you need is there on the net and in books so don’t wait. Cognative Behavioural Therapy is all about recognising negative thought patterns and eliminating them. It is a rewarding process that builds your self esteem. It is like standing on a pair of scales after a diet and seeing that you have gone down a dress size and all the hard work and healthy eating was worth it – but for your mind.
4. Light Therapy. I used a Lumie SAD lamp for seasonal affective disorder. It helped lots and now the days are longer and brighter I don’t need it anymore. Contrary to what my work mates think it stops depression caused by lack of sunlight and is NOT for giving you a suntan!
5. Healthy eating and exercise. In fact not just healthy eating but eating foods that fight depression and anxiety. Not only do you get all those lovely feel-good endorphins from exercise but you get fit and healthy also which does wonders for self-esteem – especially when all those compliments start rolling in and you get an excuse to go shopping and buy new (smaller) dresses!
6. Acceptance. Acceptance within myself that depression is a disease not a weakness – this gave me the strength to use sheer-bloody-minded determination to overcome it. Acceptance from my loved ones, employers and online and offline friends for the same. It took a little bit of fight from my side for some of them to accept it and was not easy in some cases – education was the key in this case and this helped to cast aside the social stigma of mental illness. Half of the battle with depression is the guilt it produces and acceptance is the antidote to this.
7. My daughter. She is my reason for being, my life, my world, my love, my everything. Nothing, no illness, anything will stop me from being there for her and being the best mother I can be.
So where to now? I know my journey is not quite over. I still have to come off the medication and I know there can be side effects and that can be tough. I have the biggest move of my life ahead of me to the other side of the world and the beginning of family life with my partner and daughter – new house, new job, everything. They say moving is the most stressful thing you can go through so maybe I will do best to wait until after the big move to come off the medication. Either way I am full of hope and know now if the depression ever comes back I will beat it once more – it is only an illness after all.