GUEST POST BY Anisa Easterbrook
‘What is it I’m doing which is making you so unhappy?’ There’s a question I’ve heard a few times before. I recently broke up with my girlfriend and wanted to write about my struggle with depression, not only to spread awareness and perhaps the small possibility of helping someone else but simply as something I wanted to get off my chest.
We broke up because I was and still am struggling with what seems like a losing battle with depression.
According to youngminds.org a staggering 8,000 children aged under 10 years old in the UK suffer from severe depression. So this is not an uncommon illness. Thankfully times are changing and mental illness is no longer a taboo subject and I think we’re in an era where we’ve finally realised everyone’s a little fucked up in their own way and it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to talk about it. Which also means there’s more help available.
Depression is like a dark cloud which follows you everywhere that you can’t seem to shake off. Relationships sometimes don’t work out unfortunately because let’s face it, if you aren’t happy with yourself it is difficult for the person you’re with to be happy too. They feel helpless and in a way they are. There isn’t anything your partner can do to make it go away which often causes them to feel a lot of guilt and pain and sometimes even self-blame. My girlfriend and I ended up arguing every night, mainly down to me due to my manic mood swings and lack of affection, I knew it was the right decision to end it even though it was very difficult and a bit tragic because we cared for each other a lot.
Symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. For me this was cooking flamboyant meals, taking my dog for long walks and going out. They no longer brought me or enjoyment.For those of you interested other symptoms of depression include a loss of appetite, lack of energy, self-loathing, sleep changes and reckless behaviour. I certainly suffered from the reckless behaviour aspect of it. The last time I went through a low period I pierced my nipple and went on a very prolonged drinking binge and spending a lot of money I didn’t have (or rather my loan did not cover).
One more thing is I found getting out of bed is a total ball ache on a low day. You just think ‘screw this, I don’t want to see anyone, I want to stay in bed and hide’. To be honest some days I think I it’s okay to do just that and almost embrace it but don’t do it for a long period of time and become a hermit… Take a shower. You’ll be surprised at how much something so simple such as cleaning yourself can make you feel better. After your shower set yourself a task. Literally anything, from something small such as going to Tesco, going out to see a friend or going to an art gallery and slowly but surely you’ll start to feel slight normality again.
If you, or anyone you know for that matter, feels they are suffering from depression, the first thing I would encourage you to do is go and see someone. You can go and see your GP and you will discover counselling is available on the NHS and there are also helplines you can call. Medication may be prescribed to you but it depends on your situation as everyone is different.
The second thing I would encourage anyone to do is to talk to your closest friends and your family. Surround yourself with people who get you and understand you. Don’t be too upset if you tell someone and they don’t understand and suggest something irritating like ‘take a walk’ or ‘eat a decent meal’. This obviously is not going to magically solve the problemo. If this person has not suffered from it before they are unlikely to understand and will simply think it is a phase of some kind, which isn’t very helpful.
Be open to help from doctors and counsellors, I know it seems weird and uncomfortable talking to a complete randomer but trust me when I say it lifts the biggest burden off your chest. Think of it like this, it’s like having a friend who you can tell all of your deepest, darkest and cringiest secrets to and they are literally being paid to not tell anyone. Legally obliged to lock it all away and not tell a soul! All of your secrets are safe with them. You can just waltz in, word vomit everything onto them and leave with peace of mind it won’t get out to anyone else. It’s great.
The last piece of advice I have for you is even though you may feel helpless and like you’re drowning into a never-ending pit of darkness, you will get out of it and feel ‘normal’ (whatever that is) again. Everyone has their own set of issues and you’ll be surprised at how many others suffer from it. A lot of the most successful and some of the greatest people out there such as Stephen Fry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ellen De Generes, Angelina Jolie, Russell Brand and even Jim Carrey have all spoken out about their dark times and how they got through it.
Depression never fully goes away, you’ll always have some down days but you can learn to control it and live with it. And on a cheesy note, in Ben Howard’s words ‘keep your head up, keep your heart strong!’
Good luck kids