Trigger Warning: depression, anxiety
Here is my battle with depression. How it came in to my life and the different ways I have chosen to deal with it. And also how I have come to terms with it and let it live alongside me.
Mental illness does not discriminate. The worse thing in the world is when people look at your life from an outside perspective and say ‘But what do you have to be depressed about?’
My depression and anxiety initially encased me in the run up to my wedding. I had been with my now-husband for 7 years at the time and was ecstatically happy in my relationship, was building the job of my dreams, financially secure and surrounded by people who loved me. And I still got depressed.
I own my own business and loved pouring my time in to it to watch it grow. And so I was always busy. But I found that it was whenever I stopped that I would get overwhelming waves of sadness crash around me. I would sometimes just be sat there and suddenly feel so much negative emotion throughout my body I couldn’t physically bear it. I would have days where I wouldn’t be able to do anything but stay in my bed and sleep and cry.
How I would attempt to describe depression to someone who has never experienced it would be this. Imagine when something bad has happened to you and you have felt hopelessly sad or worthless. And now imagine feeling this without having any ‘reason’ to tie it to. That’s depression.
I felt guilty too, as my whole business is based on spreading happiness and positivity and neither of those things applied to me. I would post a positive post about how everything would be ok when, in my mind, everything was far from it. I felt like a fraud.
One night I just sat up in bed sobbing and my husband Jeff suggested I go to talk to my doctor. The doctor was really supportive and suggested trying meds and a course of CBT therapy to try and eliminate the underlying anxiety first.
I had no shame in taking meds as they really, REALLY helped. They seemed the numb my sadness and I started feeling like myself again. The contrast was unbelievable.
Feeling more like myself again I started building a person weaponry against depression. Whilst on the meds I learned so much about myself as a person. It might sound daft but it’s like I never knew myself until then. I learned about my introversion and my personality type and I learned that I am an empath. I went to therapy and my therapist taught me techniques to keep out other people’s negative energies. The best one being a sort of patronus of energy to conjure up around myself to combat negativity. I felt like a wizard and still use this frequently!
Two and a half years later I came off the anti-depressants. As I write this I have been off them for 9 months. And guess what, I’m not miraculously ‘cured’ and depression is still a part of my life. The difference is that it is not all consuming anymore and it doesn’t have the power over me that it once did.
I have accepted that it will always be something that I struggle with. Every now and then it will attempt to rear it’s head and I will crush it back down. Sometimes it will win for a few days or maybe weeks. But then I will find a moment of strength to turn to my weapon arsenal and see what I can use to bash it back in to submission. I will talk about how I feel so openly with people around me, I will make more time for things that make me happy. Doing these things makes my depression weaker. I know I have meds to turn back to if ever I need them, and I would have no shame whatsoever in turning to them again.
Everyone’s experience with depression is different. For me it seems that every small step I take, my depression groans and decreases in size ever so slightly. I have accepted it will always be there but I refuse to let it define me.
Katie Abey is an illustrator human who lives in a teeny hobbit-like house in Derbyshire with a cat, a hedgehog and a husband. Her work provides illustrative doses of happiness and motivation along with a little dash of sarcasm. She is a big lover of animals and her work often features creatures looking slightly nonchalant, perturbed or even a bit deranged.