Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. More than just the temporary “blues,” the lows of depression make it tough to function and enjoy life as you once did. Hobbies and friends don’t interest you like they used to; you’re exhausted all the time; and just getting through the day can be overwhelming.
The subject of depression has been highlighted frequently in the news recently. High profile sufferers have brought the subject to the fore. I have often written about the so-called “cancer of mental health” on this blog but the true extent of the effects of depression can only be felt by sufferers themselves. The way it affects self-confidence, reduces quality of life and plagues everyday activities are just some of the consequences.
I feel totally qualified to speak on this subject as I have battled depressive episodes in my life for as long as I can remember. The first time it really hit me was when I was a teenager though I am fairly sure that there were occasions before that. I remember the lack of energy, the sense of hopelessness, the thought that the world is caving in. It affected every part of my life from work to relationships through to the way I presented myself to the world and myself. It reached a peak when I decided spontaneously as a nineteen year old to drive my car into a wall at high speed, only to save myself at the last moment. What made me do that or try to take my life is a still a mystery to me.
I have not since made an attempt to kill myself but generally suffer sometimes from depressive episodes that can last from one day to one or two weeks, the so-called “under a black cloud” syndrome. It is a constant battle to keep positive and keep my head above water and even the simplest things can be difficult and procrastination comes easily. Many people have said that given my qualifications, I should be immune from such things but of course, this is crazy thinking. Depression does not discriminate, it can hit young, old, rich, poor, male, female, any race, creed or colour.
I have learnt over the years that one major factor in the battle against depression is an understanding partner who often has to take the brunt of bad moods and long silences. When the partner understands to a certain extent about what is happening, it is easy for both to somehow cope. As with many things, communication is the key. Many relationships break due to a lack of knowledge and understanding about the situation, i know mine have in the past.
So, I battle on and no doubt will have to for the rest of my life. What is most frustrating is that one never knows when it will come, how bad it will be and what will be on “the other side”. Who do I blame? My parents? Many experts believe that depression is genetic. My influences? Myself for not doing more about it? Blame is not the appropriate word. I am just one of many, the majority suffer in silence or ignorance, who try to cope as best they can and hope that the intervals between become longer and longer.
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