First person account: Depression and me
Sophie Jones describes her ongoing experiences with depression and how it affects her illogically on a regular basis.
You know how, when its winter, you can hardly imagine being able to walk out of the door in bare legs and feel warm and happy?
Or when its summer you can barely remember what it’s like to be cold anymore? That’s what it’s like for me, with depression.
The phases come and go, and when I’m down, I can hardly remember what it’s like to be happy, I can’t comprehend how I ever possibly had the energy to smile and laugh and dance and run around.
On the other hand, when I’m happy, I often have a hard time remembering just how bad I can feel when things are bad.
This makes it very hard for people to understand sometimes, because I can’t explain it very well. But I’ll try.
For me, depression can come over me in a many of different ways. Sometimes, I feel it slowly creep in, I feel a sinking feeling start to build up in my gut. I stop laughing so much at crappy jokes I usually love so much. I get irritable with those who are just looking out for me.
Other times, it hits me like a truck. I feel it come over me all at once, brought on by some meaningless trigger, a harmless comment, one little stressor.
Today, I cried because my Benedict Cumberbatch calendar wouldn’t stay up (actually, probably quite an appropriate reaction).
When it does come, it affects almost every aspect of my being. I try to think logically, and my thoughts are all jumbled up in my head.
I can’t make sense of anything that’s going on. I can’t make decisions, I can’t tell you how to help me. If I try to think my way out of it, it’s like the thoughts don’t connect up in my head.
Even the smallest of tasks seem gigantic. I don’t know why, probably because they’ve always been things that I need to do when I’m depressed, but showering and brushing my teeth have become two of the hardest tasks to do.
I feel like I have no energy. I feel almost as if I’m heavy, like there’s a giant weight pushing me down and I just can’t get up or get out of bed.
I might have been so excited to go shopping yesterday, but today it seems literally impossible. I just can’t.
I often shut myself away on these days, because even if I’m around people I’ll often just curl up and not say anything, and I know that’s no fun to be around.
I do it with my boyfriend too and he’s my favourite person to be around, ever. So if I’m not happy with him, I’m not going to be happy around anyone.
This all often leads to me feeling extremely frustrated. I can have a whole plan worked out for the day, but one little thing happens and none of that seems possible anymore, I just want to stay in bed.
And that gets very frustrating for me, because I know how much better of a day I could be having if I wasn’t over run with these feelings.
I get angry, I get torn up and I get so many feelings that I can’t sort them out.
Sometimes I take them out on other people, but most of the time I take them out on myself.
“Sometimes, I feel it slowly creep in, I feel a sinking feeling start to build up in my gut. I stop laughing so much at crappy jokes I usually love so much.”
I squirm away from affection, I push away anyone who tries to help me, and I tell myself how stupid I am for being like this.
I deny myself stupid things like a drink of water or letting someone make me lunch because it feels too self-indulgent, I feel like I don’t deserve it.
So today, after a cry and a soppy film and a nap and some burgers and an eventual trip outside, I feel okay enough to write this.
This is really, really scary for me to write, but I know that tomorrow I could feel absolutely fine again and feel like telling people would be stupid because my problems are invalid and I’m just whining about nothing.
I don’t know why my symptoms only last for a few days, and frustratingly why they appear to be coinciding with my weekends with my boyfriend.
I feel like the depression is always there, bubbling under the surface, giving me the constant feelings of being worthless and not important that never really go away, giving me the continual anxiety I feel most days.
But during the week, I’m distracted. I have friends that need me to be happy so that I can be fun, I have a job to go to, and I have work to do.
At the weekend, when I’m with my boyfriend, I stop. And I’m in a space where I know I’ll be looked after, I know I’m safe and I know I can feel like this and not be judged.
So unfortunately for both of us, that’s when the depression seems to seep out. And it’s worse, also, because I desperately want to spend my time with him being happy and having fun.
So there we go. That’s what having depression is like for me.
I don’t go to the doctors because I know I don’t fit the criteria of the typical symptoms and I don’t want to be put on anti-depressants.
I’m lucky enough to be able to access the free counselling services the university offer, and I chat about my childhood and why I think the way I do, and I cry and I get annoyed but I’m yet to see any major changes in my symptoms.
The type of therapy I was originally offered was based around finding the patterns between my thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, but often there is no pattern.
The trigger is illogical and often I can’t even identify the thoughts that I have because they’re all one big mess of depression in my head.
Now I’m trying to focus on my relationships with other people, and how things I’ve experienced in the past have caused the faulty thought patterns that I have.
Because of the way that my depression works, quite often going to see my counsellor seems self-serving and unnecessary. Other days it’s essential.
Depression has taken so many happy days from me, but one thing it’s taught me is that there will always be another good day. Tomorrow can be different, I won’t feel like this forever.
No matter how bad things are, they will always get better. And for now that’s all I have to hold on to.
Students affected by stress, anxiety, or other personal issues can visit the University’s free and confidential Counselling services here.