My Experience with Depression

As it’s mental health awareness week this week I thought there would be no better time to write a blog about my experience with depression. I have touched on this subject before in some of my previous blogs, but for those that don’t know, I experienced depression when I lived in London in 2014/2015. It was at the same time I was experiencing disordered eating (read more about my experience with disordered eating here). So all in all, it was quite a time for me, dealing with some mental health problems. That being said, often mental health problems are experienced at the same time, be it depression and eating disorders / disordered eating, anxiety and paranoia, or low self-esteem and substance abuse. Whatever it may be, everyone is different, and everyone’s experience with a mental illness may vary.

So, what caused it?

At a first glance it may seem that it was a bad break up that triggered it. I had moved to a city to be closer to my boyfriend at the time and then within a few weeks it went tits up. Like royally tits up. I’m not one to live in the past so I won’t delve into the details of it but after the break-up my confidence took a huge knock. I had put so much into the relationship that when it fell apart, I felt like I had completely lost who I was.

So why wasn’t it the break up? Now of course, the break-up certainly sped things along, and completely knocked my confidence, but you also have to take into account my environment. I was living in a city, working in the corporate world, and where success seemed to be determined by money. You would drink on Thursday with work friends and then at the weekend with non-work friends, only to go back to the office on Monday to look forward to the weekend, again and again. Now I’m not knocking this lifestyle, I know some people absolutely love it and thrive in these circumstances, but it wasn’t right for me.

How I felt

I was about 4 months into living in London (about 3 months after the break-up) that I started to realise that something wasn’t right. I had lost a lot of weight, I couldn’t sleep without drinking, and I felt low, like really low. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings, and I cried almost every day. I would drink and (sometimes) take drugs at the weekend. At the time I thought it was to have fun, but looking back, it was clearly to numb whatever I was feeling.

It was actually after a big Saturday night that I hit rock bottom. I hadn’t slept and had work the next day. I started to panic and feel extremely anxious. I got home after the night out / the next morning and rang my Mum, and just said, ‘Mum I took a load of coke last night and I haven’t slept. I have work tomorrow and I’m really worried’. She told me to run a bath and put my headphones in so we could just chat until my housemate got home. What an absolute legend of a mum I have. There was no judgement, no ‘telling off’, just support. It was in the next few days that I realised I needed help. I couldn’t go on like this. I went to the doctor just before the Christmas holidays and she diagnosed me with depression. She gave me sleeping tablets to help me get into a routine of sleeping and suggested I take some anti-depressants. I refused. I said I wanted to go down the route of therapy first, and boy am I glad I did.

The road to ‘recovery’

Now initially I tried to get therapy through the NHS but the wait list was months long for a time-slot that didn’t work with the job I had. I spoke to my legend of a mother and she agreed that she would help me go private so I could see someone quicker and at a time that suited my work schedule. I realise this is an incredibly lucky situation that I was in, being able to receive some financial support to help me go private.

I had my first therapy session at the start of the following February and pretty much cried for the whole session. It was exhausting. At the end of the session the therapist suggested I have seven sessions, and the therapy she was going to do means it’ll probably get worse before it gets better. I said I was happy to do this. At the time I was willing to try anything

Did it get worse? Yes. There were times where I wanted to hurt myself, and yes, there was a time when it crossed my mind that it would easier if I wasn’t around. But thanks to my amazing family and friends, I would never, ever want to put them through anything like that so the thought passed.

** BIG shout out to my family and friends who at the time, were honestly incredible, you guys know who you are and you helped me through the hardest time of my life to date, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I love you all **

During the therapy we delved deep into my childhood experience and I learnt a hell of a lot about myself. I’ll always say that year was probably the toughest year of my life but I would never take it back, I learnt so much from it. I’m happy to share that by the final session, I didn’t shed one tear. Not one. I had decided to take my life back into my own hands and move back to Verbier, Switzerland. One of the best moves I’ve made to this day.

How am I doing now?

Genuinely, I never feel like I experience depression anymore. Who knows, maybe I will again one day, but for now, I don’t. Whilst we’re here, there’s actually something I’d like to touch upon and that’s the language we use to associate ourselves with depression, or any mental illness for that matter.

Language Around Mental Health : When you talk about a mental health problem, don’t every say you ‘have’ it, or you ‘are’ it. For example, ‘I have anxiety’ or ‘I am depressed’. The reason I say this is because your mental health does not define who you are. Yes, you can experience it and there may be times when you experience it more, but you never are that thing. Always talk about your experience with *insert mental health issue*.

I hope by speaking out about my experience it will help raise awareness around mental health. So many more people experience it than we realise and by being open and talking about it, we can encourage others to open up about it, and maybe seek some help. As always. please feel free to reach out if you want to talk, I’m here with open arms and ears.

Love Emma x

In memory of Hatty Harrison, loving friend and one of the biggest advocates of mental health I knew 💜

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