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I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front lately. Sometimes, we just need a little break. I honestly don’t know how these professional bloggers do it – coming up with interesting content every single day. It’s certainly a challenge.

The last few weeks have been tough for me. I’ve been crippled with a pretty nasty bout of depression. It’s something I’ve dealt with for years now and every so often life gets the better of me. Despite what people think, it’s a little more than just “feeling a little down”, it affects me physically and some days I’ve been in a pretty bad way. I know some people whom I know personally think that. I’ve been told “It’s not that bad, snap out of it” or been faced with judgement when I’ve spoken about how bad things have got.

It’s surprising how many people are affected with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. I think it probably effects everyone in one way or another at some point in their lives. Whether it’s a loved one who has it or sometimes life just gets overwhelming. Which is why it surprises me so much that there is still so much stigma over mental health.

I found out lately that two of my closest friends are even sufferers, which is surprising. They’ve been my rock when things have gotten bad for me so obviously I want to do all I can to help them.

Firstly though, I want to challenge the stigmas that surround mental health. Some of these things I’ve even dealt with recently so if you know someone suffering you (hopefully) won’t make the same mistakes.

  • Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re “nuts” or unstable or weak. Many things can trigger depression, childhood trauma, bereavement, loss, stress, childbirth… Depressed people are not “unhinged” they just have a lot on their plate.
  • Don’t think that because “they’re on a bit of a downer” you need to leave them alone or give them space. They may seem withdrawn or quiet but at times like that they usually need you the most. Just being a friend and saying “hello” will mean the world to them and make them feel less alone in the world.
  • Depression is a physical illness. We’re not just a bit sad or feeling sorry for ourselves. Some days I’ll feel like I’ve been physically beaten. My body aches, my chest feel tight, I get IBS and headaches and I can’t fight back tears no matter what I do. Anxiety attacks can come on for no reason and having them isn’t fishing for sympathy or trying to get out of having to do things. They’re real.
  • Let me get to the touchy subject of suicide. It’s a taboo subject and many people will say it’s a selfish, cowardly act. I find it hurtful anyone who says that. They’ve obviously never felt so tired, low and hopeless that they’ve felt can’t go on any more. They’ve never felt so alone that they’ve felt no one would even miss them if there weren’t around anymore. They don’t understand that at that point of feeling like that it isn’t “you” thinking. Your judgement is so clouded and you’re not thinking straight. I find it hurtful that people can be so quick to judge.
  • Just because I may crack a joke, post a status on social media or share a photo where I look happy, it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly cured. You don’t see that ten minutes before a certain picture was taken I was fighting a panic attack or I posted a status showing my gratitude for someone/something means everything is hunky dory. Perhaps that person I’m so grateful for has helped me through a really rough day. Many people hide their feelings through humour. We all don’t mope around mike emos. Look how many comedians have been sufferers… Robin Williams for instance.

I’m actually a little angry at the way some people have treated me lately… like I was broken, lazy or selfish. I’m not asking for sympathy, no one who feels depressed is. But a little understanding goes a long long way.

My advice for anyone who is suffering and feeling like this is to get help. Go talk to your doctor, a friend or loved one. It’s so important to get advice if you’re feeling this way. It can literally save your life.

Take some time out for yourself. Look after you. Learn to love you for all your flaws and imperfections. Spend time with people who make you feel loved and cherished. Relax. Allow yourself to cry to if you need to and don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for your feelings. Eat right. certain foods have been proven to help raise serotonin levels in the brain when eaten like spicy food and chocolate. As tempting as it is to hit that bottle of wine, I’d suggest you opt for a hot chocolate or smoothie instead. Alcohol can cloud your judgment and make you feel worse. Get outdoors and go for a walk. Get some exercise. Write a list of things in your life that you’re grateful for. Gratitude is something that can really be really helpful when you’re feeling negative. Do things that make you feel happy… take photos, paint, write in your journal. Express your feelings creatively. Go for a coffee with your bestie and have a good rant over a huge piece of chocolate cake….And if things get really really bad, talk to a doctor or call the samaritans.

Christmas is on the way and this time of year can be really hard for some people.  So if you know someone who’s in need of a friend, be one.


Image credit Yanko Peyankov