Hi, my name is Hannah from the Wellbean blog.
When I was younger, the word depression didn’t ever enter my vocabulary. No-one I knew suffered from depression and it just wasn’t something people spoke about (well, in my small part of the world anyway).
I was 20 when I had my first major breakdown. I knew I was feeling down but I didn’t know I was depressed until I was standing on the edge of a bridge.
I spent the majority of my life up until that very moment being a massive worrier. My mum always used to say I could worry my way out of a cardboard box. I never really knew what she meant, but what I did know was that I would worry about literally everything and I would go through months at a time feeling really down, but what I didn’t know was that this was actually called anxiety and I didn’t know that what I was feeling was…well… depressed.
I could look back on these days with great sorrow, but I choose not to see them this way; I choose to see them as life lessons. I’d like to share five things that having depression taught me.
1 – Freedom
Not being afraid of death taught me to live again. I began doing all the things I wanted to do without fear, I felt free.
I had a pivotal moment in therapy, where I realised this. It was a hallelujah kind of experience. I’d always wanted to work abroad, so that night I went home and applied for a job in France. I was successful in my application and three weeks later I travelled to France for the summer of a lifetime.
2 – It’s OK not to be OK
Depression taught me that I was allowed to be depressed, without shame. Accepting this and not fighting against it aided my recovery. The more I resisted my feelings the more distressed I became. I spent an entire three months watching Grey’s Anatomy back-to-back and rarely left the house because I didn’t feel like it, and that was OK for me at that period of my life.
3 – Coping mechanisms
Having depression taught me how to deal with being depressed in the future. The warning signs were there: I was overworked, stressed, drinking too much, not sleeping, but yet I ignored the warnings. In the future, I now know I need to take time out. I know that it’s OK to take time to look after yourself. Sometimes the step back gives you the distance you need to regroup and get yourself together. There’s nothing wrong with doing this.
4 – True friends
When you’re going through the worst time in your life, you realise who your good friends are. Unfortunately, you can realise who’s not your real friends, which can sting, but it’s an important transition in your life. The important people stick through the good and bad times in your life. They aren’t judgemental about your mental state.
5 – Gratitude
I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the people I have in my life. I honestly have some amazing people around me, they are my support network and I love them to pieces. I feel so grateful every day of my life now, whereas before I think I took these people for granted.
The biggest bit of advice I could give you if you are suffering with your mental health is to let someone know; you don’t have to tell everyone, just confide in someone. There are loads of support services out there and you can get help. I overcame depression, and so can you.
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