My real life experience of Depression
People have been keen to read about my experiences of mental health. They have written to me to explain what resonates for them. So I thought I’d write a bit more in depth describing what I felt when I was very Depressed.
I remember I felt very, very flat.
I remember a ‘blackness’ that hung over everything, a sticky fog that made everything much harder to do, or make them too hard so I didn’t bother.
I can recall trying to work as a GP with people with complex mental health needs.
My brain didn’t want to work…
There was a clear thought that I remember even now – I was worse than they were…
I was listening to their stories & it was very hard just to think clearly enough to help.
Making a decision was almost impossible.
And conversations were a real struggle.
My brain almost didn’t want to work at all. Or do anything really.
My body and mind weren’t working…
I had various signs my body and mind were trying to convey to me that I wasn’t right. I had constant headaches, and took paracetamol to try and control them. My chest hurt, my knees hurt, almost everything seemed to hurt. I wanted to sleep constantly, but then would wake in the night.
There was a steam of constant negative thoughts – what was the point… of trying to help people, of anything.
I was tired. And drank more coffee to keep going.
And coming home from work there was always a thought about cycling onto the other side of the road into the traffic…
Fortunately, I never did this. But there, every day, for months on end.
My whole self made me stop.
My brain was giving me helpful ideas – stop and rest, take time off, don’t drink alcohol this weekend. But I just ignored it.
So my body took things into it’s own hands.
And I became so fatigued, I just couldn’t go to work.
I was forced to stop
And I slept and slept for hours, days, weeks on end. And when I was awake, I criticized myself, felt guilty, and allowed myself to feel like a failure.
I was either disinterested in my children and wife, or very angry. And this made the guilt worse.
Time to change
But things did eventually slowly, gradually, bumpily turn around. I made a series of changes to improve things, and keep them improved. This wasn’t easy, and I fell down the same holes several times that I had done previously. But when I had the space to do so, I started to learn.
Know, Change, Live
I needed to know certain things. How the mind and body work, what they need to be well, what they need to heal. The fact that they are one of the same, a whole, an indiviudal, me.
I have so many habits now that help me improve, and keep improving. I’ll list a few which I think were most helpful.
Movement – as well as regular cardiovascular exercise, I started doing regular strength training – just a few bodyweight exercises in my kitchen each day. I also added some balance work, copied from yoga, and incorporated into my routine at the start of the day
Mindset – I learned that you have some choice in what you do, if you give yourself the chance to see what’s going on on your mind. Journalling to process thoughts and events that I’ve found difficult. Choosing to experiment with different work roles and opportunities. Also, seeing the potential and positives in situations – incredibly, this can all be learned, practiced and improved
Meditation – learning to meditate was so helpful. Being able to see my thoughts clearly, and allow them to gently pass, like clouds across the sky has been so helpful. I can see (nearly) all the time now when this is occuring, and wht I can do when difficult thoughts are about.
Vitamin D – this is another factor. It’s so hard, if not impossible for me to get enought Vitamin D living in the UK. But learning that it improves mental health was a reason for me to start taking supplements, and I still do today.
I didn’t use medication. For me, this wasn’t an area I wanted to go down.
Overall, I feel much, much better now. And I’m thankful for my life.
If you’ve ever been like this, what’s it like for you? Let me know what you think below.
If you’d like to speak to me, please complete a form and I’ll get back to you.
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