It was late one afternoon earlier this year that it suddenly hit me. Usually a positive (if cynical), interested (if wary) and humorous (if warpedly so) person, I was suddenly pessimistic, detached and unable to laugh at anything.
It was like being gripped by ‘flu, except not in any way physically ill; being placed into a tunnel of lethargy, except for no apparent reason; being afraid, except with nothing to fear. I found myself waking early yet determined to sleep at midday; frequently hungry yet unwilling to eat; instantly irked yet unable to remember ever before having noticed the things which irked me.
It is, of course, called Depression – that thing which only happens to other people, that thing which you have helped others cope with, that thing which no one as mentally stable as you would ever experience. Yet there it was – it had happened. In my case, from absolute depth to 80% functionality took about a week, with days on and off, but I remain hugely wary, and fundamentally still affected, now. For all that, reflecting on it, I regard it as almost a positive thing – a means of the mind telling me to get my priorities in order and stop engaging in things (and people) of no value.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I never once thought of self-harm or anything of that nature (mine was more a broad sense of “If I just went away, would anyone notice?”) and, of course, I have the best friends and family in the world – I sought instant help from them and received it. My GP was also a great support – and, contrary to common belief, did not (in my case at least) instantly reach for the “happy pills” but rather looked for programmes of support which have helped.
It’s Depression Awareness Week. So please, if this sounds familiar, now or in future, take some time off, tell friends, seek out assistance, and look for professional help if you feel it’s necessary. It is nothing to be ashamed of, or I wouldn’t have written the above. Indeed, officially it strikes 20% of us – and in truth, not least because of the instant empathy shown by others towards me, I suspect the figure is much, much higher than that.