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  • Writer's pictureTara Vaughan

Depression As I Know It

Symptoms of depression are often dismissed as temporary setbacks. I was afraid to seek help, knowing that there were deeper underlying problems. I feared being stigmatised by my family and friends and I perceived depression as a weakness. I was having suicidal thoughts from the age of 16, I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, and I was unable to focus on work. Yet I still didn’t realise that it was time to seek help.

“My favorite colour is darkness. Nobody wears it better than me.” – C W Poet

Around the time I turned 21 years old my mother started noticing my struggle. She took me to the doctor and he diagnosed me with sever clinical depression.

I overthought everything, I replayed failed scenarios over and over again, I fed my self-doubt and I could see the good in everyone but myself. I had a tendency to hide, minimise and deny my pain out of fear I would be judged or considered weak. When I couldn’t hide, I’d put on a show. I played that character so well that I sometimes got lost in her, believing that she was the real me.

Many people — mental illness or not — can relate to the stress of looking for a job, a career, something you can hopefully be happy doing. There are many things to consider when browsing these endless opportunities: the hours, workload, holiday, wages, location, amounts of social interaction and so on. It is truly overwhelming to scroll through, and it’s even harder to do when burdened with depression.

Job searches become increasingly difficult and discouraging. It drained me of energy I didn’t have to begin with. I began to tell myself I shouldn’t bother trying. Each job description brings me deeper into my depression and after hours of reading through seemingly impossible tasks, I fell into the inevitable spiral: No employer wants me. My qualifications are not enough. I’m worthless. I’m never going to get a decent job. All I do is fail.

And if by some miracle I did come across a job, I began to wonder… Am I actually good enough? Can I really do this job? The answer is: yes, I can.

Before I trained as a Soft Tissue Therapist I was a private PA. I threw myself into that job. My social life took a back seat, as did my health. I stopped seeing my therapist because I couldn’t bring myself to tell my boss I needed to see a therapist; I thought she would see it as a sign of weakness, that I was incapable of doing my job because of my illness. Looking back I know she would’ve understood. I only lasted eight months and when I finished I was ill for two weeks; I got flu, cystitis and my period came early. That’s when I made the decision to train as a Soft Tissue Therapist. I needed to do something that I actually enjoyed not just something that my parents had pushed me into.

“She has fought many wars, most internal. The ones that you battle alone, for this, she is remarkable. She is a survivor.” – Nikki Rowe

Depression is a chronic lair and it thrives by making us feel pretty grotty about ourselves. When I feel grotty about myself, I tend to downplay all of my good bits (there is always something good, even as I write this I can see something good), yet I’ll happily put others on a pedestal. I feel very much like an imposter, and that I am unworthy of help and support. Not just that but it hampers my social skills too; I don’t always want to socialise yet I still crave connection. I worry that I have nothing to say and that I’m a burden. I worry that I’m hurting or upsetting others and I worry that I’ll never feel better again.

“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die.” – Unknown

My days are better now. I understand that this is an illness and I am learning to live with it. There are still days when I am down but those are becoming less frequent and I try to find small positive moments that occur throughout those day. I am learning to heal myself; removing the misbeliefs, the illusions and the blind spots. I am living for me, and I need to be happy.

To the person reading this, depression is a cruel illness. If you have it, I know you are tired. You are fed up. You are so close to breaking but there is strength within you even when you feel weak. Keep fighting. You have got this.

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