Today I want to share one of my stories with you: my struggle with depression. I didn’t have a great childhood, looking back I realise that there has always been a sense of melancholy that I have carried with me. I have a few good memories, it is those I choose to think about to fight back the bouts of depression that loom over me now and again.
Most of the time I am a happy-go-lucky person and nobody would ever know my secret. Since mental illness is stigmatised, I tend to not advertise the fact that I struggle with it. Some days are good days, but then I get those days where I am walking through syrup, days when I struggle to get out of bed and to put on a happy face; days when I just withdraw and lie in bed, overthinking, overeating and crying. I am a people person, but when I am very depressed I hide my feelings, because that little voice in my head tells me that people will not be able to handle the person I become when I am depressed.
Certain times of the year are a battle, especially holidays like Christmas and Easter when I am alone, isolated. Being single without parents or siblings makes it worse. At 37, the expectation of ever getting married is dwindling rapidly which in turn makes me even more depressed.
I can always feel it coming over me, the beginning of a battle. So I work harder, joke more, laugh more, eat more… anything to ward off the darkness that builds up behind my eyes. Most times I win. But now and then I lose the battle. After years of struggling, I know myself well enough to know when I’ve lost. That’s when I need to be transparent. That’s when I can’t hide it anymore.
I hit a slump end of November last year, and it was so bad that I had to play open cards with my boss and eventually landed in hospital for a week. Hospital was fine, but when I was released, I hit rock bottom. With it being the festive season, most people were away and being stubborn, I didn’t let anyone know how difficult it was for me to get up and brush my teeth or bath or leave the house. I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t bring myself to listen to music or watch DVDs. I lied in bed and thought about all the ways I could kill myself. See, I made myself a promise. If in 2 years my life hasn’t changed for the better, I am taking an out. Screw my religion that teaches me I will go to hell! In times of darkness, I live in hell anyway.
One or two people reached out to me, but it was one friend in particular that probably saved my life. He emailed me every day and we chatted constantly via email. He is the type of friend that I can say anything to. So when I wanted to cut, I could tell him. When I was too tired to cook, I told him. There was no part of my depression that scared him. He was my rock.
I am still standing. I am still on meds, and seeing a therapist. It was an uphill battle but I guess I won. I still have my off day (sometimes weeks), mostly when I am isolated and alone, but somehow I make it through to fight another day.
I have made peace with the fact that I will probably always be on medication, and probably will always need therapy and except for them both being bloody expensive options, I am okay with that.
On days like today, I have hope. Tomorrow I may feel differently. But even though people don’t understand, there were some who supported me and I know will continue to do so if I could only let them in…

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