The blog post I never thought I’d write (and publish)

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Like a lot of people, I was rocked by the news of Trey Pennington’s passing this week.

And, like a lot of people (I imagine), I’ve read a lot of different perspectives on it and the broader issue of coping with your inner demons.

Jason Mollica wrote a post which inspired the one that follows here.

My mate Sian Meades also wrote something a little while back which has encouraged this too.

You won’t find anything particularly ground-breaking here, just some things I’ve learnt about coping with an illness that has been both a blessing and a curse.

What, me? Depressed? 

I’ve suffered from depression for about nine years.

It’s been a very on and off thing with only a small portion of that time spent in the ‘deep fog’.

Although, off is never really off, perhaps ‘nagging’ and ‘heavy’ are the two extremes and then everything else in between.

What impact has it had?

I don’t know the difference (now) so it is hard for me to say, but I like to think it has made life more interesting (good and bad) for me and the people near me.

In all honesty, I think it has knowingly and unknowingly impacted on others more than it has impacted on me – especially the people I truly love – I accept its ups and downs as a matter of course, but I’m not sure other people do or can (not for lack of trying though).

And, I’ve pushed a lot of people away to shield them from the pain I’ve experienced – I don’t really want to do that anymore – and I don’t want other people to follow suit.

Instead of itemizing the adventure I’ve had, I thought it would be more useful to highlight some of the warning signs I didn’t notice early on, but could only recognise after the event.

And then, how understanding myself (and the illness) has made it manageable.

The warning signs

The biggest and scariest warning sign (that I only can see now) was my initial inability to understand the imbalanced contest taking place between the rationale and emotional parts of my brain.

The transition from happy to deflated was so gradual for me that I just kept putting my deteriorating outlook down to events going on around me – in other words, I couldn’t distinguish between ‘normal’ suffering and a more systemic problem.

And I began to indulge in acts of escapism with more fervor and passion than ever before – it was the only way I could break free from the nagging fuzzy outlook.

Escapism quickly turned into self-destruction, mainly because it was the only way to inject some feeling into my world.

In short, something was wrong when I couldn’t find any single thing wrong – the whole thing just wasn’t right – I wasn’t ‘me’.

Coping, improving and managing

How people choose to deal with depression is a very personal thing.

We’re all made up differently and what works for one person may not work for another.

The key for me has been understanding how depression works and manifests itself.

At times it owns you, and at other times, you own it.

The best (and only) way of managing it is to accept it – that’s 95% of the battle.

From a strictly practical perspective, take a look at the depressions symptoms checklist and be honest in your own assessment against that criteria.

Even if you’re not sure if you ‘qualify’, go see your GP and start the conversation – they can help you with the next stage if required.

I chose to tell a few close friends and work colleagues at the time so they knew I wasn’t at my best but wanted to be – and while my improvement in their eyes might have only been subtle, it was a catalyst for continued improvement and growth.

In a way, I hope writing and publishing this has a similar effect.

I like waking up each day, and it upset me when didn’t feel that way for a period, so this experience has only heightened my appreciation of the good stuff.

And, I live in hope that the deepest depths of the illness don’t return, but after having come through different levels of it on so many different occasions, a quiet confidence resides inside of me now – I know I’ll always be OK.

I hope I never lose that feeling.

If you need any help in identifying the symptoms, or just need to be told ‘you’ll be OK too’, get in touch – it would be a waste to not share my experience from a subject I’ve come to know a fair bit about.

And thanks for reading this post – it is something I have wanted to write for a while now – this is a part of who I am.

A life living in denial in not really a life – confront, accept and adjust – they’re the three steps that have helped me.


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