It hit me like a car.
I was walking to the library, it was mid-November, I had an exam to revise for and had planned all my revision for the week ahead.
I took my favourite route, past the lake and fed the ducks on my way in. This was always the highlight of my day and put me in such a good mood.
But depression doesn’t care if you’re having a good morning, or if you’ve fed the ducks or not – it will come when you least expect it.
It was as if a dark cloud had formed right above me whilst everyone else was covered in rays of sunshine – sort of like something you see in a cartoon when you’re a kid – except it wasn’t funny this time. I was suffocating under the pressure of the cloud but nobody noticed because it was all in my head.
The lake that I would walk past every morning no longer looked beautiful to me anymore, it made me want to cry and vomit right where I was stood.
That’s when it occurred to me – I’m having another dip.
My dips in mood usually come with some sort of symptoms beforehand, I start feeling really tired the day before or I start to lose interest in things I usually enjoy. This lets me know that the next few days are going to be difficult, and so I plan ahead and make sure to give myself more time.
But this time it came out of the blue, and it was so unexpected. I frantically thought back to see if anything was the trigger – I was taking my medication daily, I had been eating three healthy meals a day, I had made time in the week to socialise and relax. So, it didn’t make sense to me as to why it was happening again. I was doing all the right things, following all the advice from people around me but it hadn’t seemed to help because my dip had come back.
Over the years I had become used to having dips, it would usually take me a few days to recover and get back to full speed with things.
But I didn’t have the time to let myself recover, I had an exam to prepare for that was worth 20% of my final module mark. It was important I stayed on top of everything and I didn’t have time for myself – I needed to focus on what was important.
But that’s the mistake we make, say I’d broken my leg I would make sure to give myself the rest to let my leg heal, and I wouldn’t be so harsh on myself in terms of staying up-to-date with work. People around me would be understanding of my situation and give me the time needed to recover.
But we don’t do that when we feel sad, we naturally put it off as being something frivolous that we ‘don’t have the time for’. But it is crucial that we give our minds the opportunity to rest.
I was so stressed about my exam, I refused to let myself take a break and recover. I went straight to the library and forced myself to revise. But my thoughts were clouded, and my anxiety was crippling. I felt like I had chains attached to my arms that were dragging me down and making it hard for me to do anything. I drank energy drinks, thinking that this would help me to get work done. I refused to accept that I wasn’t in the right shape at the moment and believed I could power through.
Hours passed, and I wasn’t understanding anything resulting in me getting frustrated and angry at myself. I was reading pages, but nothing was making any sense. I packed up my things and went home.
For the next few days I stayed home and couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I would sit in bed all day and still feel so exhausted from having to fight with my thoughts all day. I would sleep for hours on end and still wake up drowsy. I felt worthless and was disgusted with myself. I avoided any social contact because it scared me for people to see me this way.
Finally, after four days I picked up the phone and made a doctor’s appointment.
I was at breaking point, and my Doctor could see it too, she advised that I apply for support from the university because I wasn’t able to work at my best in my current state. I told her how I was scared that I would be deemed ‘not fit to practice’ and be kicked off my course. She explained to me that there was no need to worry as she had seen many students before in my situation, and the university had always been accommodating.
I made the decision to work on myself and work towards getting better. Had I not made that appointment I would have still been in bed at home, feeling worthless and depressed.
The decision to get better, comes from you. Nobody else can pressure or persuade you into anything. It is up to you, as hard as it sounds, your fate is in your hands. It will be difficult, there will come points where all you think is possible is giving up – but in those moments you need to have faith.
Have faith that everything is happening for a reason and it will all fall into place.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety for the past 7-8 years, I seemed to think I knew everything about my conditions, I was supposed to be in control and make the decisions in how I felt.
However, you never really know everything about yourself, the only way you learn more is going through pain and seeing how you carry yourself – the things you learn in these moments will shape you into the person you are today.
Every episode of depression I have, every panic attack I have, every dip I have eventually shapes me. It will never be all of who I am, but it is a part – and the day you come to accept this will be the day you will be starting to take control of how your condition affects your life.
It’s all in your hands.
I don’t know what your journey is, I don’t know how many highs and lows you will have, but one thing I do know is that you will okay.