I've had depression since before I knew what depression was. Actually my primary affliction is anxiety and my unwanted thoughts make me feel despondent but the intricacies of other people's melancholy are really boring so all you need to know is, sometimes I feel rubbish.
I've been to GPs over the years and been offered variations of 'chin up love' but after I had Roscoe, tiredness and hormones made my crazy hit factor batsh*t. My baseline mode of low level anxiety, mixed with parenting anxiety, led to anxiety squared and I became convinced that a series of terrifying but ridiculously unlikely things would occur (think tsunami in Brighton) and I didn't want to tell health professionals about it because I was anxious about their reaction. And so I wrote down what I was feeling (something I recommend if you're feeling anything similar) and took it to see my GP, Dr Punja and he said, 'Mate, you're obviously depressed and I can offer you therapy but to be clear you're 37,567th in the queue, so I'd recommend these drugs.' And it was one of the happiest days of my life.
Those pills made me feel seen; they made me feel heard; they made me feel validated. Prior to recently I didn't really talk about my depression because I acknowledge I am in a very privileged position within the world of mental illness - I have supportive friends and family and I can function and hold down a job. But also, there's always an also, I didn't really talk about it because depression sometimes seems so basic; like such a soy latte, cracked iphone screen cliché.
I decided to start being more upfront about it because this blog is about truth and this is my truth and also because my antidepressants felt like a badge of that truth, unexpectedly my prescription made me more likely to speak about it and not less but when I started to speak I got some curious reactions. I got a lot of...
'I don't believe in drugs.'
'I think you should try to get off them.'
'They're really addictive.'
'Drugs are over prescribed.'
'Have you tried yoga?'
'I don't think you're depressed.'
'Have you tried cutting out dairy?'
This is not a post in which I criticise my friends, each and every one of them cares about me dearly; it's because they care about me that they are perturbed by the idea of me taking drugs. I don't want anyone not to express themselves, I hate those posts that are like 'don't you dare ever say these things to a pregnant women/mother/Take That fan', all I want you to do is consider if you would still make those comments if my depression was asthma...
My asthma is so bad today, I can't get out of bed.
I'm knackered, my asthma kept me up all night.
I'm gonna be late for work, I had a really bad asthma attack this morning.
I've been given new asthma medication and had a bad reaction.
I take this medication once a day and it totally keeps my asthma under control, I feel wonderful.
If my depression were asthma and I told you that corticosteroid was keeping my alive, would you still encourage me to ditch it?
Nine out of ten people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. This can be even worse than the symptoms themselves. Time to Change is England's biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.