Depression. You can liken him to an imaginary friend. To everyone else, you are crazy but depression to me, he is as real as it gets.
The world was my oyster, graduate of an Engineering Honours Degree, started a new job, a new life in Tauranga, I had great friends around me. I was happy. I thought I was happy. Everything going for me. That’s what I thought.
Meeting depression is not pleasant to say the least. He is demanding, controlling and hurtful. But unlike most of my friends, he is honest. Checking up on me everyday, he reminds me that I am a burden and a liability. Everyone sees me that way, but not him. Checking up on me every day, and being there when I was most alone.
Yes, I am kept up most nights. Depression tells me the truth that others would not be so honest with. When you spend so much time with someone, you no longer have an outside unobstructed view. Now, I feel attached, depression has morphed me to a stranger that is not known to my own self. I can not connect with others without bringing up my own struggles. My struggles are all I know and getting rid of them will make me feel more alone than I already do.
There was a time where my life was exactly where I wanted it to be. That did not last long.
Day by day, I learned that the world was a daunting place. Everything was perfect but I was not happy. I was no longer my loud bubbly extroverted self. Something felt off, and it felt much deeper than the outside world.
During that year, I went through harsh friend break ups, my closest friends moved overseas for work/study and I found it difficult to meet people in Tauranga. I was living alone and my day consisted of work, television, sleep then repeat. Sometimes eating, other days not bothering. Most nights I would cry, for no reason at all. I was swimming in a pool of sadness.
That same year I was diagnosed with GERD, Low blood pressure, Anemia and I was told there was a high possibility I had Endometriosis. I was on Omeprazole, Iron tablets and hormone pills, that was all before I got prescribed antidepressants. I was 23 and it already felt like the end of my life.
My health was deteriorating, my friendships falling apart and I became distant from everyone and everything. Nothing brought me joy. Becoming my own tsunami, I destroyed whatever was left of my own life.
I started counselling through my works, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). I was lucky that I worked for a company that allowed me to receive three fully paid sessions a year. After a few sessions my Counsellor suggested I needed more time which I received for free.
My sessions mostly consisted of me crying for an hour. I cried so much that month that I was drowning in my tears. After my therapy, I felt significantly better, but nothing was helping long term. Trusting people was difficult for me but I had a longing for someone I could talk to. I hated people for what they had done to me but all I wanted was to be around them. I was and still am a paradox.
I was diagnosed by my General Practitioner [GP] with severe depression the night before my 24th birthday. I couldn’t even say severe depression without having a panic attack. Devastation was only the beginning of what I was feeling. I knew I had been going through depression a year before I was diagnosed, but now it was real. I remember thinking “People are going to look down on me. People are going to think I’m crazy” and I wasn’t wrong. So I did not tell anyone. I kept it to myself and pretended everything was fine. It is hard to pretend that life is great. It saps all your energy. Your personality diminishes in the process.
As the days went on, I could not fake it anymore. Everything became a trigger and easily got to me. I have always been a sensitive soul, but depression was highlighting these traits. I couldn’t hide my tears at work, it needed more than a bathroom crying session. Getting as far as possible felt like the best option. I left work with my laptop, hoping my workmates would understand I was taking my work home. However, I did not tell anyone where I was going. I went home, left my phone and laptop and drove far away.
This was the first time I tried to disappear. Papamoa hills was my impulsive destination and I started to walk. Once I got to the top, I lay in the grass in a hidden part of the hills and I cried my self to sleep. I lay there for hours. Cooled off then when I felt at peace, I decided I was too hungry to disappear.
Upon reaching home, there was a note on my door. I had worried my workmates. That wasn’t where it stopped. I had multiple missed calls from not only work but from my family. I no longer could lie anymore and had no excuses, I was stuck. From there my family learnt about my depression. Most were in denial. I was asked if “that was all, just depression?” I was told that my GP was wrong. Depression wasn’t real to a lot of them and at the end of the day it was because I wasn’t religious enough.
I flew to Sydney the next day to be with my sister. Multiple people asked why I was sad? I was pushed again and again to tell them what was wrong. Being depressed required me to have a good enough reason. People lose the closest to them, they’re given months to live, those were the people that had a reason to be upset. They could not see why I was upset. The reasons weren’t enough. So they kept digging. At one point I was asked if I had the depression my generation get because they don’t get what they want.
During my time in Sydney, I was sent to a psychiatrist for an appointment. This time it was a bit unusual. After opening up about every little thing, I was asked for a hair sample which was sent to lab for analysis.
I was diagnosed with copper toxicity and severe adrenal burn out. He prescribed me 7 different supplements, that equated to 17 pills a day. To me that was ludicrous. Swallowing and remembering to take pills was hard enough for me, I was not going to try take 17.
I had called every clinic psychologist in Tauranga, every single one was too busy to take on another client. They all had no openings and would refer me to another that was also busy. Depression help lines were a regular but again, were short term solutions. I had no luck and decided to give up. It was only through my company’s HR department that I found a psychologist. This was months after I first started calling. I would go to every session, open my heart out, talk about every single thing that hurt to talk about. But after months of therapy I felt like I was still at square one. Life was getting harder by the day. Ending my life always felt and still feels like the easy way out.
Arguing to me about my last statement might make you feel better but it will not change how this depression makes me feel and neither will it change how I look at life. You cannot judge a person’s thoughts and feelings if you have not gone through depression yourself. Even if you have gone through depression, it is completely different for everyone. Nothing in this life will ever give you the right to decide how anyone should feel.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch
Solving problems requires us to first find the issue, we cannot solve problems if there is nothing to fix. This is how society looks at depression. If you do not have a acceptable reason to cry, then there is nothing wrong with you. There is nothing to fix. Depression is apparently not a viable reason.
*Currently, I am with Community Mental Health. Which has been a roller coaster. I visit the hospital a few times a week. The loving team of nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists take good care of me. It took me a long time to find the help and support I very much needed, another reason we need to identify the problems in the health system.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
You are not weak for asking for help, you are strong. This world does not need heroes, but the courage tone warriors
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7 in New Zealand:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234