If you have read my story or previous blogs you’ll know my background. I suffered with depression after a car crash in 1997 which you can read about on the website. When I say I suffered with depression, this was self-diagnosed years later and not at the actual time. This because I didn’t think and probably wouldn’t have admitted I was struggling at the time.
The first thing is realizing you are not feeling yourself. I wouldn’t put this down to depression. Depression has become very easily labeled. It’s great that it’s more in the public eye now but it’s easy to say I’m depressed when you are feeling a bit down. Which there is nothing wrong with because everybody has down days or weeks. So you take a trip to your GP and they will either give you a number to ring to talk to someone whom you don’t really know. They will have studied but do they really know what you are going through and will you open up? They might even give you some magic pills. These are antidepressants and the way they work are that by increasing levels of a group of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, can improve mood and emotion, although this process isn’t fully understood. Increasing levels of neurotransmitters can also disrupt pain signals sent by nerves, which may explain why some antidepressants can help relieve long-term pain. While antidepressants can treat the symptoms of depression, they don’t always address its causes. This is why they’re usually used in combination with therapy to treat more severe depression or other mental health conditions caused by emotional distress. But people seem to get stuck on these pills for years with a lot of side effects which then in turn can add to you not feeling great, putting on weight, lack of a sex drive and many more. Or is there a placebo effect with you thinking I’m on these pills now so I must be better and I need to take them to because I don’t want to go back to feeling rubbish. Can we achieve this placebo effect by doing other things?
Now I’m not saying this is for everyone and I’ve never taken antidepressants so it’s easy for me to sit here and write this. It’s just an outsiders view. My magic pills when I was struggling was to spend money. I used to regularly buy clothes that I didn’t need (and I’m not taking £100 at Topman, I’m talking thousands of pounds on designer clothes), and this could happen a few times every month.It was my coping mechanism and I would go drinking on a night. This seemed to stop me doing what I came close to few times and ending it all. Why didn’t I ask for help? Most likely because I was too proud to.
I’ve worked out what works for me. It’s taken me years to do this but now I feel I have the tools in my head to deal with things. If you draw a line on a bit of paper and above this line is you feeling happy etc and below is you feeling down. My life was like a mad heart beat on a monitor. Two days happy three days feeling shocking and that was the case for around 16 years. It’s no way to live and nobody really had any idea I was suffering. But now I manage to keep myself above that line and its not like a mad heart beat anymore. I work at this everyday and I’m still learning that my life works better when I’m more organized. As simple as it sounds, things like making sure everything has a place in the apartment, keeping the inside of my car clean instead of it looking like I’ve eaten in there every night for a month. I go to the gym three times a week and I’ve set myself little goals and not daft ones so they are achievable and when you hit them it gives you a great feeling. There’s nothing worse than setting the bar too high and not hitting it. I’m not saying don’t be ambitious but break it up in to small bits. This doesn’t need to be a gym this can be anything in your life. Go tell someone who is close to you that you are struggling a little bit trust me that saying those words are hard but once you do it it’s like a little weight as been lifted from your shoulders. Then set yourself a little plan of goals you want to achieve giving yourself a little structure and still talking about the issue all the time and in time you’ll find that your smile will return.
I’m not saying this will work for everyone I’m just saying what I find helps for me. I have days now where it feels like I’m carry a big weight around on my leg and I’m struggling to walk and whereas before I just wouldn’t tell anyone I’d push myself to breaking point. Now I say to people “I’m struggling today”, and not ashamed to say on days when my leg and back are screaming at me that I do nothing. and I mean nothing! This used to get to me but it’s my body telling me I can’t do today so I need to rest and instead of getting down I just think, I need this day so tomorrow I can get back on with my life achieving those small goals.
I know sometimes you think there just isn’t light at the end of the tunnel and you really cant see things getting better as you just plod along not telling anyone. But tell that person who you are close to and they can help. Set yourself a little plan and you will slowly change your mindset. You don’t need a life coach telling you that you need to do this and you need to do that. Seek advice from people of course, but listen to yourself also and slowly you will find what works for you. Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes you need to take one step forward and then two back. There is nothing wrong with this it’s just you learning the tools to cope with what you are going through. But you will change that mindset and you will get there.
I got a newspaper posted to me last week. I was on the front page and the headline was, ‘Walking back to happiness’. In the article I said I wanted to be back playing football and that’s something I still miss everyday, but like I say, I set small achievable goals and now I can finally say that after 17 years I am walking back to happiness without no magic pills.