Today, we have a guest post from the wonderful Dee of The Restless Empire. Dee and I have been working together to bring some much-needed attention to the normality and prevalence of mental health issues. Below is Dee’s piece on her own struggles. You will also find a list of questions to get you thinking about your own journeys. We encourage everyone to have a read and share their stories in the comments or on their own pages using the hashtags below.
If anyone feels they are struggling and can’t cope you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 0800 543 354. Help is always at hand.
The first time the term depression related directly to me I was a 17-year-old high school student. I didn’t want to go to school, this was more than any normal high school student, I was panicked at the thought of going to school. The corridors felt vast and uncaring, I felt watched and alone. I was probably paranoid. I definitely felt like I wasn’t good enough.
I don’t know what happened to my self-confidence. It up and left well before I was 17. Nobody noticed but for a large portion of high school, whether or not it was cold, I wore my school jersey. My horrid itchy maroon school jumper was like a security blanket.
“Impression depression” was all it said on my doctor’s notes and prescription. There wasn’t much decision but it was a difficult conversation nonetheless. In a jovially singsong tone he told me that he was prescribing Prozac “but don’t worry it’s totally safe, you could take the whole box and you won’t overdose… you’ll just feel really unwell”.
I stuck with my medication for several years, and then decided by myself that I was fine and didn’t need to take it. I bumbled along for years without fluoxetine and moments with it. Between my first prescription when I was 17 and latest prescription at aged 30 I’d flitted between using fluoxetine and not, largely convincing myself that everything was fine.
Driving to work last year, in tears and eating my way through a packet of chocolate biscuits I realised things most definitely weren’t great. I was frightened and panicked about work, I was tired, I was worried and I had worked myself up into a state. I was going to need to have that conversation again; I was going to need to ask for help.
Asking for help, as an adult was much easier, yet at the same time more frightening. I felt I had more to lose if people knew but realised I had more to gain. My doctor was extremely understanding and so were my near and dear. Later when things slid from bad to worse, it was my GP who ordered me to take leave and look after myself. It was my GP who suggested I take stock and look at what’s important and it was my GP who organised for me to see a psychologist and it was my GP who has worked with me to get me to a better place.
Asking for help wasn’t easy.
Living each day nervous, worried, confused and tired also wasn’t easy.
Getting up each morning knowing I was only going to get more panicked wasn’t easy.
In the end asking for help was the easiest solution.
Day Job: Retail Marketing
Diagnoses: Depression & Anxiety, dialogised age 17.
Game plan: When I feel things are getting the better of me… I try to manage sleep, exercise and surround myself with good friends.
Dee writes regularly on mental health and all other aspects of life at TheRestlessEmpire.com, a magazine-style blog, encouraging others to write too.