Friday, 27 April 2012

Depression Awareness Week #4

I hate overhearing people misusing the word 'depression'.

Like Jo said, depression is a serious illness. It is real, it is scary, it is beatable.
And it comes in different degrees.  When switching medication for OCD, I sunk down to a low of emptyness. My meds happen to also be used as antidepressants. So I guess I've been there too, to an extent.

But it isn't annoyance. It isn't PMT. It isn't having an argument with a friend or relative.
It isn't even bereavement or grief.
It is an all-encompassing state of being. Or rather, not-being.

My first tangible encounter with the 'black dog' was through my oldest friend. At a sleepover, she blurted out that she had been diagnosed with clinical depression. I thought we were just growing up. Teenagers have moodswings, friendships change, perople sometimes distance themselves from each other. But they always come back, right? It scared me a lot.

Trying to support and reach her through the bubble of isolation depression created around my friend was one of the hardest and most exhausting things I have ever tried to do. And I've done Duke of Edinburgh and Advanced Higher Maths, so that's saying something.

Since then, I have met and grown close to others affected by depression. Some of my closest friends have black dogs of their own. And I have learnt that all I can do for my loved ones is be there for them. Be their friend. Be their sister. Answer their calls. Chum them to their doctor's appointment. Be there when they need someone to talk to, and still be there when they don't.

This post has no fluent line of argument, it's just bits and pieces all jumbled up. But that's the way it is inside my head. Mental illness doesn't make sense. It's just there. And it doesn't make the people we know and love any more or any less valuable.

Libby x

Depression awareness week #3

“We think you have depression, what do you think about that?”

Upon hearing that statement, my head started racing with thoughts.

I am just weak. I shouldn’t be depressed, I have a fortunate life. I can’t letanyone know. I am a freak. Great, I’m mental. I know they are right. Does thismean they can help me? I have to pretend I am okay. I am pathetic. It’s just anexcuse for being weak.

I was ashamed, I did not want anyone to know and I didn’t think I deserved any help. I rejected all offers of help from professionals and kept all of the thoughts to myself. They just escalated. This escalation continued until finally, I accepted the help.

Depression is an illness that will affect 1 in 5 people so, why did I, and many other people, feel it was something that needed to be hidden? Something that shouldn't be spoken about?

What I want to say is, if you think you may have depression or if you do, don’t be ashamed. It is an illness, an illness that deserves treatment. No one deserves to suffer alone.

When I was struggling, and wouldn’t access any help a friend sat me down. She was honest with me and, despite my objection; she took me to speak to the school nurse. At the time it was safe to say that I was less than pleased but, looking back now I see how vital that event was. If she had not taken the time to talk to me, the time to care, then I don’t know if I would be the person I am today. If she had not had the courage to be open about her own issues I wouldn't have been able to be myself. I will be forever grateful to that person and I now I want to be able to be that person to others. To show others that they are not alone and to encourage them to seek help.

If you are struggling, don’t suffer alone. Talk to someone, you deserve the help.

And, if you know someone who is suffering from depression, the greatest thing you can do, in my opinion, is just to be there for them as you've always been. Don't be judgmental. Depression is just am illness and underneath it they are still the person the always have been.

All the best,
M xx

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Depression awareness week #2

So I decided that with it being Depression Awareness Week, for the first time I'd share one of my poems which I wrote whilst I was in the grips of depression. At the time I felt as though I was trapped in this web of darkness and pain, I thought I'd never find a way out, that there was nothing left. If you're reading this now and are in the grips of depression, please know that it DOES get better, I've been where you are, desperate, hopeless, lonely, and now I'm finally seeing the light, and you will too - there is hope, there is a light at the end of this long dark tunnel, just keep fighting and it will be worth it.


From the moment I wake up
to the moment I fall asleep,
this darkness surrounds me
fills my heart and engulfs my mind.
 If you close your eyes or stand in a dark room you will see darkness,
but for me it is is a constant darkness.
A lingering darkness that follows me around everywhere I go.
I cant seem to escape this darkness, no matter what I do,
it hovers and surrounds me,
makes me feel so alone,
so afraid and so hopeless,
this darkness called depression,
it wont leave me alone.

And so I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes;
"Sometimes in life we need to hit that all time rock bottom in order to appreciate how good it feels to be right at the top"

Hang on in there, because life is such a beautiful thing.
YOU are wanted & needed in this world, yes YOU.

Rachael xx

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Depression Awareness Week #1

Winston Churchill described his own depression as his, "black dog" making frequent references to it throughout his life. If one of our country's most well known and well respected prime ministers suffered from the taboo of depression, why are we still hiding behind its stigma, refusing to talk about a condition that 1 in 5 of us will suffer with at some point in our lives?

This week, the 22nd - 28th April 2012, is Depression Awareness Week. We're looking to talk about depression; from every angle to every height, we're hoping stories from the depths of this illness to recovery might offer insight and hope.

If you google depression it has two definitions: 1. Severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. 2. A condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life. These intense, overwhelming feelings affect sufferers in a range of severity - some people will be ill for a short time, gradually gaining strength with support, treatment and often medication. Others will struggle their whole lives, recovery and relapse a part of their daily living. Some will be diagnosed with "manic depression", an illness we now know as bipolar disorder, an illness with incredible highs and lows. And there will be people out there who see no way through their illness, those who attempt to take their own lives and those who tragically succeed.

You see, depression takes many forms. It is not just a phase that affects sullen teenagers or those reaching midlife crisis. It strikes anyone. And yet like most mental illness, as a society we refuse to face it. We refuse to admit that depression will affect not far short of the number of people affected by cancer. Around 15% of those who suffer from clinical depression will die by suicide; in Scotland the number of young men who take their own life has increased by 22% since 1989; and in those aged between 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Shocking? Serious? Preventable? Treatable? Yes.

Depression is serious, the statistics speak for themselves, but help is out there and recovery from depression is possible. There are a number of different treatments out there from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to counselling to medication to a mixture of all them. And it's not just the health service which is there to help, there are number of leading charities which are set-up to support those with depression. There is always someone there to listen, whether that is the GP, your best friend, a counsellor or someone on the end of a phone service like Samaritans.

And why am I able to tell you that it does get better? Because I've been there.

I had anorexia nervosa, but with my eating disorder came depression. Anorexia caused such isolation, anxiety and obsession that I became lost in my own world; in this dark narrow minded little world of mine, came further thoughts of self-destruction. For me, a tangled mixture of anorexia and depression made me believe that I deserved to be hurt, that I had no right to be alive. I hurt myself and the scars remain. But they are healed now and show that there is strength in all of us to beat even what we feel might be unbeatable.

The rest of this week, I hope you will read our other stories. And the rest of this year and time to come, I hope we will talk about depression as something we face and are able to move on from. Hope is real.

Check out these links for information and support regarding depression and suicide:

Depression Alliance - a charity designed to assist those affected by depression.
In Comes the Black Dog - an art auction in conjuction with Depression Awareness Week.
TWLOHA - an American charity focused on inspiring hope to those affected by depression.

Love, J x

Monday, 9 April 2012

World Autism Day (a bit late...apologies)

When someone says "autism" - the rain man is what spring to most people's minds. But autism is a spectrum disorder and although some sufferers are savants like the rainman, the majority are not and the disorder can range from a complete lack of communication ability to the disorder being only vaguely apparent on the surface.
I have high functioning autism. I am just like everyone else. I just find some things a bit more difficult due to my autism. 
I do not see autism as a disability, I see is merely as an obstacleThe below video is one I made once describing a little about high functioning autism from my perspective and that of many others. 

The symptoms of autism fall into three main categories; difficulty with communication, difficulties with social interaction and difficulties with imagination. This means that social situations can often be overwhelming and cause high levels of distress.

I was very reluctant about my teachers at school being told about my autism. But, when they were told it was explained to them which things I find tricky and why I didn't understand some things. The consequences of this have been purely positive. This just shows that a wider understanding and awareness of autism in our world would be highly beneficial. Not only would it decrease unnecessary  discrimination but, it would make things easier for those with the disorder.

Autism is a spectrum disorder. Do not assume that all people with autism are the same. Give us a chance and get to know us. I promise you that autism is not purely a synonym for strange.

take care

The following link explain the characteristics of autism very well: