I've been thinking long and hard today as to whether I should acknowlege the fact that it is World Mental Health Day.
I like my pretty, happy blog but sometimes, just sometimes, I feel it absolutely necessary that a soupcon of cold, hard reality needs to creep in. Because that's life and it's rich tapestry, isn't it?
I'm going to type this straight off and from the heart, so please bear with ...
I'm not going to give you chapter and verse but I've suffered from clinical depression since the age of eighteen. That's, ahem, some twenty-something years or so. Ironically, just a teensy bit longer than the 21 years that Mental Health Day has been 'celebrated'.
I could count on two hands the number of people who know I have a mental illness (really, really hate that phrase) so this 'coming out' business is quite a big, brave step for me.
The reaction has nearly always been the same.
"OMG! Really? I don't believe you. *A big pause* But you're so self-confident. And always seem so happy."
It's hard and I've had some very dark times. Times when I've felt so desperate and not known where to turn. Times when I've felt so detached from the world, on the outside of everything and everyone; almost like I'm looking on but unable to take part. Times when all rational thought has deserted me. Times when I've felt nothing more than a burden. Times when I've felt so absolutely, completely and utterly exhausted, I've wondered how it would feel to just close my eyes and sleep. To feel some release.
Oh yes, it's really, REALLY the crappest of the crap.
There seem to be two types of depression - circumstantial (a result of loss, stress or trauma in your life) and non-circumstantial (almost like a mis-wiring in the brain). I have the latter.
I've taken St John's Wort, had counselling and been on short courses of antidepressants on and off throughout the whole of my adult life. Nothing has really worked for any length of time.
However, something happened a few years ago ...
I had a new doctor. My firm-but-fair, very old-school, stiff-upper-lipped, bowtie-wearing doctor retired and a young, handsome, floppy-haired and extremely intelligent doctor took over.
"It's quite simple" he said.
"Antidepressants seem to correct the fault in your brain" he said.
"Don't come off them. I wouldn't try and wean someone off corrective glasses, so why would I try and wean you off antidepressants?"
So, it's been four years (almost to the day) that I've been taking a daily dose of 20mg Citalopram and, you know what, I feel really, really good. When you're on antidepressants, you still FEEL stuff, you just don't seem to take that extra step that sends you reeling into an abyss. Your confidence grows with every passing month - I think it took me a good couple of years to be convinced that the horrible 'plummeting feeling' wasn't just lurking around the corner, whatever life threw at me.
So there you go. My story in a nutshell.
I think I'd like to finish by saying that if you suspect you, or someone you care about, have depression, do please seek help. More often than not, it doesn't go away by itself. There is no more shame in having 'dodgy wiring' than there is being short or long-sighted. There is a resolution. I promise. I have eventually found something that suits me; something that affords me the opportunity to live a 'normal' and reasonably stable life. There is something out there that will suit you too.
Please don't suffer alone.