I never planned to write this. In fact, I just gained the courage to write about this topic just now when I was on the toilet (TMI… I know). You see, it’s not easy talking about depression and anxiety. So I am going to write this before I lose courage. It might help me embrace what I’m going through and come out stronger. I don’t know… We’ll see.
When did it all start?
It started a little less than over a year ago. I was going through some issues in life that felt like it was the end of the world. I also started feeling insecure about myself. I would constantly scold myself for every mistake I make and hate myself for everything that went wrong. Some time around October was when everything started crashing down. That was when it got too overwhelming and I could no longer hide it. The crashing point was when I failed my driving test for the second time. As if I don’t hate myself enough, failure made it worse. No one likes to fail, but when I fail it’s a whole new story.
I started thinking I was unworthy and stupid.
I started cutting myself.
I was suicidal.
I cried… a lot.
I think it scared my partner at that time because he had never seen me this way. I’m lucky that he stayed with me and guided me all the way. I’m lucky.
“You don’t seem depressed. You have such a great life”
This is a common phrase I hear a lot. And I hate it. You know what else I hate? When I go to the therapist or when a friend asks me “So why are you sad?”.
You see, when you’re suffering from depression, you don’t really have a reason as to why you feel the way you feel. If I actually have a real reason, I would just be justifiably sad. Depression is an illness that puts you in a low mood for a long period of time. So when you say, “if you need someone to talk to, I’m here”, I would really appreciate it but you’re most likely going to either hear the same reason over and over again or a complete senseless reason that shouldn’t have affected me that much.
When I started seeking help, I pretty much explained my “story” like a hundred times to different people. Every time I see a new doctor, nurse, therapists, counselors, etc. I hated it. Going to these appointments was a terrible experience because no one would like to recall their low mood over and over again.
A common misconception is that depressed people are constantly sad (think emo). That’s not true. Many people hide it very well in public but die on the inside. Sometimes I have to smile throughout the day and I come home mentally exhausted. There were also many times when I had to excuse myself early just to go home because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I know I could possibly stay home all day, every day, but I didn’t. I knew I want to get better for my loved ones. I refused to let depression take over my life. There were many times when I would just cry for hours but go to work like nothing happened. There was a time when I attempted suicide but my partner saved me. I went to university afterward like nothing happened.
If I stayed home, it would be the end of it. It’s like I’ve surrendered. I refused. I went out the house and carried on like everything is normal because I believed that after a while, I will start believing the reality that everything is okay. I was not going to let some imaginary evil thoughts take over my reality.
So if you meet someone that’s going through depression, I think the best thing to do is just show that you care. I am lucky because I am surrounded by supportive people like my parents, my partner, in-laws, and friends.
And then the anxiety kicked in
I was on medication for a few months but for some reason, anxiety happened. I started worrying about things that I have no control over. I even started dreaming of having panic attacks. These nightmares wake me up and guess what? I have a panic attack (IRL). These attacks started to happen more frequently, especially at night. I would start shaking, my heart would race, and breathing became difficult. My GP suggested I increase my dosage every day. I did that and it helped a little. Personally, I thought breathing exercises helped the most.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Before I say anything about CBT, I am not suggesting that it’s not a good program. It just didn’t do much help for me. I know a lot of people who benefitted from CBT, so this is just coming from my point of view.
I started going to CBT classes every week. It was nice because I was surrounded by people who were going through the same situation as I am. However, the classes were common sense (in my opinion). I know having a regular sleeping pattern is good for me. I know having a realistic goal is good for me. I know that meditation is good for me. These tactics were ingrained in us since we were children. It’s just hard to put it into practice.
I know a lot of people would say “well, you just got to put in the effort”. You are talking about someone who has trouble getting out of bed every morning, dreads going out the door and face the world, and already thinks so lowly of themselves.
Let’s just say, I stopped going to CBT after a few weeks.
How am I doing now?
I did not feel like I missed out or had no directions after I quit CBT. I’m not going to lie, but I still don’t have the grasp of overcoming my panic attacks or when I’m depressed. I’m still struggling. I constantly live in fear that everyone will stop caring about me. Every little fight that I had with my partner makes me fear that he will leave me (not that he has ever left me). Every mistake and failure I go through, suicidal thoughts do come to mind. I still don’t really know how to overcome what I’m going through but I’m definitely doing a lot better than before.
I’m still on medication because it helps me think logically when dark thoughts come to mind.
Do I think I’ll be healthy soon?
Well, I sure hope so. I’m moving back to sunny Singapore at the end of the month so that should do me a lot of good. No offense, but the gloomy British weather can be quite depressing.