Yes, I know I write a lot about depression. Strange really, but it does consume quite a large chunk of my life in fairness. But this time it is a different perspective.
In the past I have recorded the lows of my days, expressing the loss of control, the uncontrollable feeling of nothingness, and the pointless battle of trying to get out from the slump. Then there have been the fight backs, the recovery, and the jubilation of once again rising from the pit of despair.
Not forgetting my attempts to explain the inexplicable to those who want to, or think they do understand the true depth of depression.
But like I say, this is different. A recent consultation offered me a unique new perspective on the whole matter, and made me realise there is more I could do, should the opportunities arise. To date, I have not sought such a thing. Although have recently set out on a vlogging mission, thanks to another chance encounter with another medical professional.
Back when I did my CBT course, I became aware that I grew in strength and self understanding, while talking to others about my journey. Not counsellors, but a group who were too suffering from anxiety and depression. As the course went on, so I realised that telling your stories, as you understand them, to others, helps them see patterns, and routines in their own lives. Once aware, you are slightly more able to take control. Spurred on by the confidence gained from realising you are not alone, and you are indeed understood by someone at least.
By the end of the course, I was overwhelmed by the number of people from the group who felt I had played a positive part in their improvements, and that my openness was key to that.
On speaking to my GP yesterday, I was very surprised when she expressed an interest in me helping educate a group of medical students. As we discussed it, the idea grew. On agreeing to the the seminar , I realised it is something that really interests me. When my mind is clear, I love trying to put things together and help others understand depression, from my perspective at least. Both medical professionals, and sufferers have something to gain from such discussions.
I am not saying I am the Messiah, and the key to depression. I am not for one second suggesting I understand depression in all its guises, I really don't. However I do believe I have built an understanding of what you might call standard depression and anxiety can drive you to.
Seeing others speaking out on a larger platform about how they have battled with mental health makes me almost feel like I could do more. Be it making myself available to speak to others, getting going on the vlogging, or writing more, I'm not sure. But I do know one thing without a modicum of doubt, I feel compelled to make a difference, and I am truly passionate about helping with depression and anxiety. Maybe sharing my stories with medical students is just the beginning. Maybe I can do this more often?Who knows, but I will be sure to speak to the GP about this.
When I am low, I don't look for help, but occasionally will reach out to someone I know I can trust. I am truly blessed to have a small group of friends who understand this, and are amazing at what they offer at these times. However I am so very aware of how long it takes to build the trust to speak to someone you know about it, or even find someone in your circles who you can talk to. Believe me when I say, that alone is one of the toughest parts of recovery.
For some people, they will either never gain such confidence in their friends, or simply not have the network there to embrace them. This is where it becomes problematic.
When you finally reach out for help, you speak to a GP. The standard assessment will be made, the score will be taken, and if necessary, medication will be prescribed. Sadly for some this is the start of the end. With a health service under pressure, and quite frankly such little understanding of depression from the majority of GP's , you take the pills, feel a bit more balanced, and on you continue. No big attempt to solve the cause of the issue. Being such a vast condition, to a degree I totally understand why this happens.
However, if you fall and bend your leg awkwardly, you are not given painkillers and crutches and sent on your way. Investigations are possible to see the cause of the pain, and treatment given accordingly. Unfortunately the physical body is far easier to make sense of than the brain. And we are full circle on why most cases of depression or anxiety are left unexplained.
If you are lucky like me, and you get an amazing and passionate GP, like Dr Paul, your hopes are better. Along with Dr Mason (my work doctor) they supported me to the point where I could carry on without support. Like the leg injury, they were my crutches which carried me until I could manage alone. From simple sit downs to express where I was mentally, to dosing changes. And of course shoving me in the right direction to get CBT, and stick at it.
Of the tens of thousands of people in the UK on Citalopram and other such medications, I would be curious to know what percentage have ever had any further interventions than being medicated.
I am not saying medication is a bad thing, or evil and addictive. Far from it in fact. But as in my early blog, for me the medication is only there for me to rise back up from the depths of depression, and regain control over the matters which influence my mental state.
Debts, relationships, work and so much more can influence our state of mind.We can get down about it for a while, or we can fall further, lose control and begin to curl up to hide away from it all. That is the point where intervention is needed, and not always just in the medication way. Meds are not the solution for all. In fact I would bet most could be back off them, and balanced of their own accord within a year or so. Depending of course on the changes in their lives, and the root causes of their initial downward spiral.
Sitting here tapping away, I would love to learn more about the subject, and write something meaningful about it, something helpful. A first hand account of what some are going through, and a look through window into the future of hope. I am not the solution, I am not the cure, but I am experienced, and open enough to discuss it with others. Knowing my blog has been read by strangers and impacted them positively just increases my drive to help more.
Speaking to the students could just be the beginning. For the rest of the journey, I need to find my way.