Exams are over

I had my last exam of the year this morning. It is a huge relief having them out of the way, after what has been a tough few months.

I have to say my college has been very supportive since my diagnosis. I had two big projects due on the same day, both of which will form 25% of my final grade in each subject, and I began to feel overwhelmed. I asked for a meeting with both professors, and explained the situation (as well as showing them copies of my medical notes, so show I wasn’t bluffing), and they agreed to stagger the submission dates for me. This was a huge weight off my shoulders, and allowed me to do my absolute best on both projects, and I’m incredibly grateful to my professors.

My college adviser has also been a Godsend for me; a couple of weeks before the exams started, she searched the internet, and found lots of advice on coping with exams when you have depression. She printed it all off for me, and then we went through it all together, discussing which advice would work for me. The main thing I took from it, was to only study for exams when I was in a good place, and not to try and force myself to study when I was feeling down. Even though this obviously reduces the amount of time available to study, as my adviser said, it’s quality of study/revision, not the quantity of it.

Anyway, I think it paid off, because I feel like the exams went okay. Although that may be wishful thinking on my part.

I must admit though, now my exams are over, I have a slight feeling of dread about returning home for the summer. I was in college when diagnosed, and therefore the college community has been my main source of support since, so I’m starting to worry about how I’ll cope when I’m away from it. I have a session with my therapist later and I will discuss these feelings with her then. She has referred me to a therapist closer to home for the summer period, it’s someone she worked with previously, and she’s confident her former colleague will be a good fit for me.

Despite the fog of depression, I’m still able to recognize the incredible support I’ve received from so many, and I feel incredibly blessed because of it.

Advertisements

What NOT to say to someone with depression

I’m very fortunate that on the whole, I’ve been met with over-riding support from family and friends, after sharing the news of my depression diagnosis. However, as I’m sure is the case with everyone living with depression (or has lived with it), I’ve had some of the ‘what not to say’ type comments too. I’ve responded to each politely, pointing out what you think would be the obvious, and thankfully I don’t think I offended anyone.

Anyway, I decided I’d add a post to this blog, about what not to say to someone living with depression. These are just a handful of examples, I’m sure there are more out there.

What NOT to say: “There is always someone worse off than you in the world.” Those living with depression know this, they don’t need anyone to tell them. As humans, any problems or difficulties we face at any given time, are only relative to our individual situations. That doesn’t mean any of us aren’t realistic. For me personally, I’m living with depression and as it’s still “early days” for me, I’m finding it difficult to begin with. However, I know that in comparison, my difficulties are nothing compared to people caught up in the conflict in Syria. (Lets face it, I’d be pretty stupid and self-centered, if I did think my current woes were on a par with the suffering in Syria). I haven’t lost sight of the suffering of others, just because I’ve got my own troubles at the moment.

What NOT to say: “Snap out of it” or “have you tried not being depressed.” If only it were that easy. I’m mean seriously, does anyone think that if it was as simple as “snapping out of it” or trying not to be depressed, that those with depression wouldn’t just do that?! No-one wants to be depressed, I know if I could magically “heal” myself, I would do so in an instant.

What NOT to say: “Have you tried herbal tea/chocolate/going to the gym/any other example, it always makes me feel better, when I’m down in the dumps.” With all due respect, depression isn’t simply being ‘down in the dumps’, it’s a psychological illness. It isn’t cured by a cup of herbal tea (which I do enjoy by the way), eating some chocolate (something else I enjoy) or going to the gym (something I don’t enjoy). Of course, it’s important for those living with depression to start doing the things they enjoy again, as one of the symptoms of depression is losing enjoyment in things you’ve previously loved doing. However it’s not going to magically “cure” a person’s depression.

What NOT to say: “Depression is a sign of weakness.” Quite possible the worst thing anyone could say to someone living with depression, as that person will already be feeling pretty shit about themselves, you really don’t want to be making them feel worse. Plus there remains the simple fact, that depression = weakness, simply isn’t true. Winston Churchill suffered from depression (he called it ‘the black dog’) and no-one can call Churchill weak.

Instead of saying any of these things, there’s one thing you could simply say instead, or something similar…

“You WILL get through this and I’ll be here to support you every step of the way.”

Whenever someone said to that me, or something very similar, it was music to my ears.

Introduction

Being diagnosed with depression in February of this year was a real shock.

Yes I had gone through a bad break-up in December 2013, but the rest of my life is pretty good. I’ve got a wonderful family and great friends, I’m attending my dream college, and I don’t have any financial worries. When my diagnosis was confirmed, I sat there and asked myself, what have I got to be depressed about?

But the more I learned about this illness, the more I realized how indiscriminate it is, and it can creep up on anyone, at anytime, with no rhyme or reason.

I started therapy about six weeks ago, and one of my therapist’s suggestions was blogging about my depression, and the journey I’ll be taking. She said even if no-one reads it, it’s a way to get my feelings out, and also a great tool for me to be able to look back and see I’m making progress (well I hope so).

I’ve only just started the blog now, as it’s taken me a few weeks to be able to feel ready to tell all my family and friends, but now I have I’m happy to start this blog and share my journey with them.

On top of that, if anyone happens to come across this blog by chance, you are more than welcome to stick around if you so wish. And if anyone else is out there reading this, who is also battling depression, I would love to hear from you.

That’s it I think, not much to say really, other than this is one more step I’ve taken.

Hurrah!

NB: This blog won’t JUST be about depression, I’ll be rambling on about other stuff too I’m sure!